The Significance of Animal Therapy

Samantha Carman   Staff Writer


I never thought I would be someone who needed therapy. However, my decision to start going was something I will never regret. Many people react differently to psychotherapy and I personally wasn’t gaining anything from it. After awhile, though, it was because of this first step that I was able to try animal therapy, which is something that has changed my life.

 

In Nov. of 2015, I adopted a cat for emotional support; I named her Binx. The difference between animal therapy and psychotherapy for me is that with animal therapy, there is no judgment. An animal will love you no matter what. I got really lucky with my cat because she’s someone who loves to cuddle and be near people. Sometimes I feel like she needs me just as much as I need her. She even gets to stay with me in the dorms.

During the days when I come back from class feeling too anxious to keep it together, she is there. During the nights when I can’t sleep because my mind is racing and I can’t seem to separate what is logical from illogical, she is there. With the traditional talk therapy, that instant need can’t ever be satisfied. Usually by the time I am sitting in the therapist’s office facing them, all of the things I needed to talk about are suddenly gone.

As I mentioned before, psychotherapy works for some people and doesn’t work for others. I spoke with my friend, who wishes to remain unnamed, who attends therapy to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  They shared, “For me, I feel like talking to someone helps me process and comprehend everything. It allows me to tell my story in private. It really depends on the person, but I personally find it helpful.”

Many people still believe that mental illness isn’t as important as a physical illness. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. There are many other types of therapy such as writing, reading, exercising, meditation, and, honestly, just crying it out. Just know that things will change and get better.

Another great thing about having my animal with me is that she’s a reminder to take care of myself. As silly as it sounds, feeding her reminds me to feed myself. I know that I need to try and keep myself motivated, and alive, enough so that I can take care of this cat. Over the past couple of years, my therapy cat has become someone I would consider my family. If I hadn’t walked into that therapist’s office two years ago and started animal therapy, I have no idea where I would be today.

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