Animal Therapy at Whetstone Helps Struggling Boys
Whetstone understands that parents want to send a boy to a safe, monitored environment where their son receives personal care, and individual therapies that help heal disorders–whether brought on by trauma, adoption or family genetics issues.
And while the young boy or teen enrolls our therapeutic boarding school for counseling, treatment, and improving academic/life skills, Whetstone Boys Ranch also helps boys improve mental and physical health through Animal Therapy, led by licensed therapists.
Animal-Assisted Therapy is a therapeutic intervention that incorporates animals, such as horses, dogs, cats, pigs, and birds, into the treatment plan.
It has been shown that interacting with a pet animal can aid in various mental and physical issues such as insomnia and anxiety disorder. Some of the many benefits of animal-assisted therapy include the reduction of stress, alleviation of pain, reduced blood pressure, and an overall improved mental state.
Additionally, therapy with pets helps with improving joint movement and motor skills, developing social skills, increasing motivation for exercise, decreasing isolation and loneliness, and helping kids develop nurturing and empathic skills.
One of the biggest benefits of pet therapy is the reduction of stress and anxiety levels. When interacting with a friendly animal, the human brain releases “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins that make the patient feel relaxed and more at peace.
Animal Therapy at Whetstone Boys Ranch Improves Effects of Individual Therapy
Animal Assisted Therapy is used to enhance and complement the benefits of traditional therapy at Whetstone.
When a young teen boy struggles with trauma induced disorders, i.e. anxiety, depression, lack of social interaction, Animal Therapy can help him:
- improve socialization and communication; • reduce isolation, boredom and loneliness; • brighten affect and mood, lessen depression, and/ or provide pleasure and affection; • improve memory and recall; • address grieving and loss issues; • improve self-esteem, be presented with opportunities to succeed and feel important, and improve feelings of self-worth; • improve reality; • improve cooperation and problem-solving ability; • improve concentration and attention, and increase engagement; • decrease manipulative behaviors; • improve expression of feelings; • reduce general anxiety; • reduce abusive behavior; • improve an ability to trust; and • learn appropriate touch.
Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons suffering from ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Developmental Delay, Genetic Syndromes (such as Downs Syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, and many other mental health problems.
Equine Therapy can help the individual build confidence, self- efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and learn boundaries. Since the horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, it is easy for the patients to create a connection with the horse.
The two main reasons why horses make for perfect therapeutic animals is due to their ability to be completely unbiased and mirroring. Pet therapy research suggests that equine therapy is extremely effective in treating patients with a wide array of disorders as horses have the ability to be non-judgmental and patient.
Furthermore, horses are sensitive and observant creatures that provide the patient with quick feedback, helping the patient be more aware of themselves.
That’s why Whetstone Boys Ranch offers Animal Therapy in addition to Individual and Group therapy. We want each boy to experience effective counseling as well as improve daily life at school, and back home with family.