It’s well known that dogs are “a man’s best friend.” But that old adage could be modified to say, “dogs are best friends to those who need some extra help with mental health issues.”
Marriage and Family Therapist Roseann Bennett is putting our canine friends to work at her Center for Assessment and Treatment in Hackettstown, New Jersey. Bennett discovered the value of dogs in the course of her work with children several years ago. It’s called Canine-Assisted Therapy.
Dogs have a special ability to put children at ease, make them calm and help them to open up. Reducing anxiety and making a child feel at ease in a therapy situation is major first step toward going further into treatment. Read This Article for more information.
A therapy dog is different from a service dog. The latter helps people with special needs. A therapy dog deals with emotions, as in calming negative emotions, such as anxiety, or lifting moods of people who are depressed. Therapy dogs have also shown great ability to get through to children with autism.
When well-trained therapy dogs are matched with the skills and expertise of someone like Roseann Bennett, the results can be powerful. Bennett brings more than 10 years of experience to her role as therapist. She earned her MA and Ed. S in marriage and family therapy from Seton Hall University. She also earned a post-masters certification from the REACH Institute.
Roseann Bennett says our canine friends can deliver a remarkable array of benefits to people with mental health issues. Research shows that interacting with a friendly mutt can actually trigger the release of positive endorphins in the brain and body. Dogs have been shown to help people lower blood pressure. Best of all, it’s the feeling of calmness and just plain delight that a friendly pooch can invoke in people that provides positive leverage in a therapy setting.