On Friday we welcomed Bailey the Cocker Spaniel to the Bridge, into our Mental and Physical Health Recovery provision. She is training to be a Therapy Dog, what does that mean?
"Pet therapy is defined as a guided interaction between a specially trained animal and an individual or group, guided by the animal’s handler. Pet therapy interactions are used to help improve people’s mental, social, emotional and physical functions. Animals accept us as we are – they don’t judge and they don’t threaten – so people can wholeheartedly interact with them safe in the knowledge that there is no hidden agenda. People with emotionally based disorders may find it difficult to open up and trust another human being, but discover this process is much easier with a therapy animal. Benefits from pet therapy programs include a reduction in stress, a boost in self-esteem, improved mood, and better communication skills.
Stroking, sitting next to or playing with an animal is believed to cause the release of endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters) which has an extremely positive impact with our mental health due to its calming effect. Focussing on an animal and its needs draws our attention away from our own problems. We develop nurturing skills and develop a sense of empathy with an animal. Pets are a motivator for people; dogs especially are great at encouraging owners to get exercise beneficial for our mental health".
Bailey will visit us again soon!