Most of my focus this week has been on anxiety. I mentioned in my earlier blog post about neurotic perfectionism and the links to anxiety. I also talked a little bit about one statistic from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. This organization states that “Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2016).” I would like to say that I am surprised by this statistic, but in all honesty I’m not. So, I thought about what those treatments might look like, and I came up with drugs (because I mean really, when are drugs not the answer?) and talk therapy. But I was curious about other alternatives besides doping up or talking about your feelings; and then I recalled a news clip I had seen several years ago about therapy animals. So can Pet therapy work? I was curious, I remember seeing the video and it mostly focused on shelter animals being linked with students that struggled with reading (hopefully I can find the clip and attach it at the end of this!). But the news clip reported positive results from these students having the ability to read to animals.
I read an article by Goddard and Gilmer (2015) titled The Role and Impact of Animals with Pediatric Patients which I found to be very interesting. Prior to the publication of this article there was limited research on the impact that Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal Facilitated Therapy (AFT) with pediatric patients. While this article is more clinical in nature, it had me thinking about some of my students within the school setting. Some of my students have severe anxiety, and this article made me think about the potential positive impact that this kind of therapy could have on students within the school setting. Would it be possible to have a therapy dog at school all year? What types of benefits could we see in student engagement? Would it decrease school anxiety for some students? The more I think about this concept, the more I would love to pursue doing some type of study to assess how animal-based therapy(ies) could be beneficial in the school setting. Logisitically, I’m not sure how I could make this work though
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2016). Facts & statistics. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.
Goddard, A.T. & Gilmer, M.J. (2015). The role and impact of animals with pediatric patients. Pediatric Nursing, 41(2), 65-71.