Animal-Assisted Therapy & Recovery
Behavioral Health & Addiction
Freedom, Recovery & Empowerment with Dogs
* For individuals ages 12+ & families *
* One-on-one or group work
* In-person or virtual
When struggling to heal through addiction, and/or co-occurring disorders like PTSD, depression and anxiety, the unyielding love of an animal can make a significant difference in how a person fares.
Whether you - or your patients, clients or students - are participating in hands-on exercises with our therapy animals in person, observing applicable animal demonstrations on Zoom, or applying what you've learned by practicing it with your own pets at home, the F.R.E.D. program has something special to offer every participant. When paired with guidance from a skilled professional interventionist, animals in the role of "adjunct therapist" have a powerful role to play in clients' recovery in the following ways:
"Being here with the dogs...helped my broken heart heal. For me, the group has been very therapeutic."
- They enhance an integrative recovery plan with the kind of holistic, complementary healing that only animals can provide
- They make tangible the otherwise abstract emotional and psychological processes involved in recovery work
- They allow clients to practice safe coping skills in real time, alongside loving role-playing partners
- Their use in specially-designed exercises pairs the evidence-based restorative effects of animal-assisted therapy, and the proven efficacy of the curriculums we utilize, for exponentially robust treatment outcomes
- Animals help clients cultivate and maintain a positive association with the material they're learning about, and with the therapeutic process itself
- Animals' loving, nonjudgmental energy reminds clients that they are valuable for exactly who they are, no matter where they are in the recovery process; and also that they are not alone
In F.R.E.D. (or Seeking Safety + Dogs) we cover the following treatment themes:
* PTSD: Taking Back Your Power
* Integrating the Split Self
* Asking for Help
* Detaching from Emotional Pain (Grounding)
* Red & Green Flags
* Respecting Your Time
* Coping with Triggers
* Setting Boundaries in Relationships
* Healing from Anger
* Creating Meaning
* When Substances Control You
* Healthy Relationships
How it Works
* We contract with therapists and recovery specialists who are (a) already implementing Seeking Safety in groups and would like to integrate therapy dogs; or (b) would like to start a new, animal-assisted Seeking Safety group at your facility.
* We meet with individuals and families over Zoom - during which time you are encouraged to involve your own pets at home. If you do not have pets or wish not to involve them, you will be able to watch virtual demonstrations by our therapy dogs during sessions.
About Seeking Safety
Seeking Safety is an evidence-based, present-focused counseling model that helps people attain safety from trauma and/or substance abuse, + other forms of compulsory or self-harming behavior.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MODEL HERE: https://www.treatment-innovations.org/ss-description.html
"The dogs help me with my recovery by being themselves. They help release my tension because I focus on them instead."
"I've learned that therapy dogs are very helpful with regard to depression, how to cope, and getting motivated."
"I like the example of the cat, and thinking of how the cat lives in the here and now, and isn't thinking about how she was abandoned or how she lost her leg."
"I've learned that dogs can be a big influence on people's mental health. Instead of turning to a substance, you can turn to a dog."
Mind The Dog
Mindfulness Training &
Social-Emotional Life Skills
for Kids & Teens
Our animal-assisted education programs offer fun, unique, and effective learning experiences for youth of all ages, across the spectrum of ability and disability, and will significantly help those with those struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, loss, and/or trauma.
Mind the Dog is a 6-session program, during which youth learn mindfulness strategies and healthy coping skills through training exercises with, and discussions about, dogs. Each session contains a check-in, goal setting up front, a theme of the day, a dog demonstration, a hands-on, interactive exercise through which kids practice the skill they've just been learning about; and a check-out. Some examples of coping skills we explore include:
- The Worry Box, where kids help teach dogs to put items (which we label as different "worries") into a container, as a way of recognizing them while setting them aside for another time
- Bubble Breathing, where we practice box breathing, while slowly blowing bubbles for the dogs to chase and pop - adding lightheartedness and humor to the exercise
- Mindfulness & Grounding , where we observe the dogs as grounding "objects"; learn from their ability to stay present in the moment, listen as they crunch on ice and differently textured foods, brush their fur, and so on.
- And many more!
Physical & Occupational Therapy
Our calmest, gentlest, most patient therapy dogs are available to help individuals heal from physical or neurological injury or illness; and to assist those who struggle with developmental issues that affect mobility or motor function. By offering loving, nonjudgmental company during rehabilitation exercises, our dogs can inject a unique dose of fun, motivation, reward, positive distraction, and confidence-building into activities that may otherwise be tedious, frustrating or painful.
Gross Motor Skills Practice:
- kicking a ball back and forth with a dog
- kicking a ball for a dog to chase
- Walking next to a dog - or toward a waiting dog with a wagging tail – toward a goal post
- Sitting and standing, alternately, while asking the dog to do the same (in context of the Do As I Do training method, whereby a dog mimics a person’s behavior)
- Doing jumping jacks while asking the dog to stay lying down on a PLACE marker (i.e. acting as a distraction to proof the dog’s “place” behavior)
- Lifting dog toys of different weights, shapes and sizes; throwing them for the dog or playing tug with the dog
- Stretching and bending exercises – leaning down to pet the dog from different positions
- DANCING with DOGS!
Fine Motor Skills Practice
- Counting out training treats
- Loading training treats into a gallon jug or a treat ball to give to the dog
- Putting the dog’s harness or collar and leash on
- Holding a brush and brushing a dog
- Setting up cones with treats underneath for dog to find
- Using a clicker to reinforce dog’s responses to commands