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Animal-Assisted Therapy

FEELING SAFE AGAINAnimal-Assisted Therapy

Unconditional love is often our greatest teacher.

When a person lives in active addiction, some may define it as a comfortably numb state, though this is always short-lived. The process of drug detox and subsequent addiction treatment reverses the façade of that former so-called painless existence. Life-altering reality awakens each client journeying through their recovery.

Through this, one of the basic human characteristics is often lost because of drug dependency or as a repercussion of withdrawals. The ability to feel comfortable in one’s own skin can be overrun with self-doubt and internal restlessness, in addition to discomforting physical and mental sensations. These are some of the side effects of the body and the brain’s readjustment to sobriety.

As a client delves into personal environmental and behavioral issues that may have led to addiction, individual and group therapy are integral ways to begin the process of communication. For some, conversation, even confidential in nature, can be emotionally debilitating. Unfortunately, many therapies only provide benefit through client-to-therapist communication.

Animal-assisted therapy bridges the gap caused by insecurity and awkwardness, through nonverbal channels.


Anxiety and depression are alleviated with the presence of animals.

In many scientific studies, the integration of dogs and other animals in therapy settings positively impacts client responsiveness, and minimizes symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders. In fact, people, in general, who interact with pets through touch, play, or while at rest show a drop in distress levels while an increase in overall mood.

Pet Therapy and Brain Activity

Alcohol and drug addiction wreak havoc on the brain’s natural ability to respond to stress and experience pleasure. Chemical dependency hijacks these human responses, forcing the brain to shut them down. Over time, they simply don’t perform this function anymore. This is why many people in recovery grow uncomfortable with various aspects of feeling – physical, mental and spiritual.

With animal-assisted therapy, pets engage endorphin release and actually increase it with each encounter, allowing clients to feel good. At the same time, stress hormone activation will decrease including epinephrine, cortisol, and norepinephrine.

ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPYImproving Self-Perception

Judgment has a strange way of destroying self-esteem.

The bond between humans and animals is long-standing, perhaps since the beginning of civilization. Animals can provide comfort, intuitively knowing who needs it without a request ever being uttered. For many, pet therapy is the epitome of the addiction rehab safe space. When a person is shedding their former self (addictive past) they can feel emotionally barren, lost, and without purpose. This can fuel thoughts of hopelessness and insignificance.

Pets can turn this around, reminding clients of their own worth, just by being there. With animal-assisted therapy, individuals can also focus less on themselves and more on the care of an animal. This improves emotional responsiveness, trust, and helps build a desire for developing positive human interaction.

Most are familiar with animal-assisted therapy through scheduled interaction with dogs, but cats, rabbits, reptiles, goats, horses, and other species can also provide benefit.

Three Therapy Dogs to help with Recovery

Putting Client Need First

All of our holistic and clinical therapies are designed to be client-centric, keeping those in our drug and alcohol treatment programs, as well as dual diagnosis, in the kind of care that clients and their families can count on.

Acceptance Recovery Center has two therapy dogs, one small breed, and the other a bit larger, to meet with each client’s comfort level and pet preference. We also offer offsite equine therapy sessions. As you or your loved one experience growth through addiction recovery, animal-assisted therapy makes the process more loving and enjoyable.

Meet our therapy dogs Integrated recovery treatment

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“Human-animal companionship is at the very core of our instincts not only for mutual survival, but mutually rewarding relationships.”

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