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Animal assisted therapy - Referat

1. The importance of animal-assisted therapy
I think some of you can imagine what an animal-assisted therapy is.
In animal-assisted therapy the therapist gets support from animals. The animal is the center of this therapy. The intention of the animals is to create contact and alternative communication and acceptance without prejudice. These therapies are seen as an alternative medical remedy for mental and physical damage. But parents should not have too high expectations: Animals in therapeutic settings can help, support and accompany - but they can’t do miracles.
In animal-assisted therapies, the relationship between children, parents and the team of therapists and animals is very important. This can be done in the psychological, pedagogical or social-integrative field.

Why animals are used?
Animals have no prejudices. They don’t care about physical or mental defects or diseases. They take and accept a child the way it is. And for children, it is easier to get in contact with animals. Even a shy, frightened and quiet child can hardly escape the charm of a dog, a cat or a rabbit. In addition, all animals bring some typical behaviors and characteristics with them which can help by various diseases.

2. The application areas
Animals can be used as a therapist partner in many different areas.
Now I will show you some application areas in which one the patients can benefit from animals. Which animal is used and how the therapy works depends on the situation.

2.1 Psychology
Psychological and mental disorders
for example:
- trauma
- fears
- compulsive disorder
- emotional disturbances
- sleep problems

2.2 Pedagogy
Because of the use of animals problems can be prevented and existing problems can be improved.
for example:
- concentration weaknesses
- attention deficit
- loss of motivation
- problems in resting behavior
The learning behavior can influence animals positively because animals create a balance to the learning situation and this can change negative experiences into positive

2.3 Social integration
Animals are ideal helpers in social problems like
• Behavior errors,
• adjustment problems
• binding fears and separation fears

Animals offer a good "training platform" for social togetherness and integration

2.4. Animals as assistants
The use of animals as assistants is used for various problems. Dogs are often the ones who are responsible for assistants because of their character traits, their ability to educate themselves and their good family integration.
They can help in different ways.
- in case of perception problems
( guide dog for blind or deaf people)
- in case of physically restrictions
( the dogs open the door or press the traffic light…) > You can see it on the picture in the right upper corner
- as a warning dog
(in suspicion of epileptic attack or a diabetic shock is there.

2.5 Accompanying therapy
More often animals have a role in other basic therapies. They are used, for example, in cancer clinics, rest houses, speech therapies or ergotherapies

3. The content of animal-based therapy
The process and the selection of a right animal is very important.
All animals used in therapy must be accustomed to humans and characterized by a peaceful, social and stress-resistant behavior. Also they can express their own moods by clearly recognizable signals.
Over the years, it has been shown which animals are suitable for certain fields of application.

Does anyone of you know animals that can be used for animal-assisted therapy?

3.1 Lamas and alpaca
They are characterized by quiet and relaxed behavior.
Because of these characteristics, they are perfect to use by
• mental illness,
• trauma,
• behavioral errors,
• mental handicaps and
• voice problems.
Both have a very strong motivating effect in dealing with kids.

3.2 Rodents
guinea pigs, mice, rats and rabbits - are characterized by their gentleness but also their very high temperament. At the same time, rodents can usually be kept quiet for hours and simply be stroked.
This makes them ideal for use at
• physically impairments, frightened and unsafe children
• children without self-confidence

3.3 Horses
The use of horses is very popular and is predominant in the physiotherapeutic context.
The horse's instinct is actually designed for physiotherapy. Horseback riding is also available. The focus is on the use of horses for children with
• physical impairments,
• mental disorders and
• Delays in social contact

3.4. Dolphins
In America and Israel, dolphin therapies are often chosen and they are usually used. In Germany you can’t do a therapy with dolphins everywhere. Dolphins are very playful but sensitive and empathic
It finds its therapeutic use in many fields of application
• physical, mental and emotional deficits

Finally, I come to the most often used animal for such therapies in Germany.

3.5. Dogs
Thanks to the many different races and the respective typical characteristics they can be used in all possible applications and can help by many problems and deficits.
There are different types of therapies with dogs.
They keep apart between
• Dog-supported therapy, which is used by disturbances in the communication area
• Animal-assisted support with a dog, which should achieve a rebuilding of the quality of life and well-being.

Race and age of the dog have to be adjusting to the especial situation. Young dogs are lively and bring kids with their character to laugh, awakening protector instincts and are ideal partners to create contact. On the other hand adult dogs are calmer and embody protection. They are ideal for frightened children.

While animal-assisted therapies with dogs, dolphins and horses are mostly used alone and rodents, donkeys, alpacas and lamas are always integrated into a therapeutic farm.

4. Advantages and disadvantages of animal-based therapy
4.1 the advantages
• Animals can’t speak, they are not unforgiving, they are not interested in a person's strengths or weaknesses.
• They accept everyone just the way they are. For children, this unconditional love is a positive experience.
• Animals are highly varied in therapies.
• Animal-assisted therapy takes place without medication.
• Even if therapy is unsuccessful, other barriers are always overcome and desirable effects are achieved.

4.2 the disadvantages
• This Kind of therapy is not recognized in Germany and therefore it’s often very expensive and health insurance companies don’t pay.
• Animal-assisted therapy is not a magical remedy > not every treatment is successful.
• Not all animals are suitable for therapeutic use.
• Animal-assisted therapy requires a perfect patient and therapist relationship.

Another very big negative aspect are the costs.
Animal-assisted therapy is not recognized in Germany as an alternative healing method. As a result, the therapy costs are usually must get paid by the parent. The cost depends on the selected animal and the quantity of the therapy.
The health insurance only has to pay when the use of animals takes place through and during prescribed ergotherapy, physiotherapy or speech therapy
the health insurance paid the therapy only in very few cases and only for persons with a very big handicap.

5. My own opinion about animal-assisted therapy.
I like the idea and the implementation of animal-assisted therapies and I think that it can help at many problems or disabilities.
I find it bad that the therapies in Germany are not supported and paid by health insurance companies. Many parents don’t have the possibility to pay the high costs of a therapy.
If the therapy would become cheaper, it could be made possible for several children.
In America and Israel the possibilities with therapies are much better and very cheaper.
Germany should develop here and take an example to these two countries.

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