Therapy Animals Can Help Children Overcome Challenges
At Bradley Hospital, our clinicians use certified therapy dogs to help our patients and their families cope with mental health issues and other facets of life. Visitation sessions are always guided by the animal’s handler, who is also trained and certified.
While the visits at Bradley are not considered formal therapy, animal-assisted therapy offers many benefits to children. It may help build self-confidence and increase self-esteem as the child learns and performs new skills. These special animals may improve verbal and nonverbal communication abilities, model compassion and empathy for others, and help develop social skills.
Research shows that stroking a friendly pet lowers blood pressure and heart rate, regulates breathing, and relaxes tense muscles — all signs of reduced stress. Interacting with dogs can help calm hyperactive or aggressive children, studies indicate.
When the trained dogs visit each of the programs at Bradley, most children are excited to pet and play with them. Those who are uncomfortable interacting with dogs can decline to participate. Bradley dogs and their handlers visit our programs on a rotating schedule.