NSCM are very excited to offer a new service to our clients. Elsa has recently completed her training as a therapy dog and she will be working with some of our most vulnerable clients, either at their request or at the request of professional team/commissioners.
Animals have the ability to form strong connections with humans and vice versa. Our programs are client-centered although they may be designed to achieve specific therapeutic goals. The activities involved depend upon client preferences and needs.
Animals offer affection and unconditional acceptance. They are responsive, live in the ‘here and now’ and do not mind who you are or what you look like.
Animals are usually direct and honest and unlike humans they are non-judgmental. Animals do not criticize, hold grudges, change the rules or otherwise confuse through verbal communications.
In fact, some clients actually feel safer and less threatened around animals. Being with animals can encourage our nurturing and empathic traits and, for survivors of abuse, offer an opportunity for ‘safe touch’.
Benefits of positive interactions between people and animals are likely to include:
• Development of relationships and emotional bonds built on trust and respect.
• Improve mood, morale and sense of self worth.
• Better social interaction and reducing feelings of social isolation.
• Relief from anxiety and stress.
• Offenders or those at risk of offending can regain a sense of control and responsibility through caring and nurturing the animals.
AAT aims to promote mental, physical and social well being, many people can benefit from this intervention. Studies suggest that it is particularly effective for vulnerable people including those with emotional and behavioural problems.
Working alongside animals offers outreach workers a different way of exploring difficult and sensitive issues as clients may find it easier to express their feelings and recount painful experiences. Where clients are suffering from low mood, research indicates benefits, such as focus of interest and positive attention, as well as pleasure in handling animals.
Time spent stroking and talking to dogs can result in lowering blood pressure, relieving pain, reducing anxiety levels and enhanced mood. We have found Elsa visits also promote engagement, and support clients to build a relationship with their outreach worker.
|MG, I was moved to a new area because of CSE as a result I rarely left my flat, since working with Elsa I have been able to go out with her and my outreach worker she has helped me to talk to strangers which I find very hard to do, and to feel more settled in my new area.|
|KH, I used to avoid my outreach worker but since Elsa has been coming too I have not missed a visit, I like to stroke her and cuddle her and go for walks, she came to my college interview last week she helped me to stay calm and focus. I got a place for September.|