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Unconditional Love: Benefits of Pet Therapy

Unconditional Love:  Benefits of Pet Therapy 

december-2009-petsBy Karen Overgaard, L.P.N.
Nothing can compare to the unconditional love and acceptance a person can receive from their pet. Pets can promote relaxation, motivation, and comfort. Touching or hugging a pet  is known to help children suffering from depression, low self-esteem, or loneliness.  Several hospitals, including Hackensack University Medical Center, have instituted pet therapy programs where specially trained animals and their trainers visit patients during their hospital stay. 
Another popular therapy that utilizes animals is “Hippotherapy,” or therapy with horses. It can be used with children having physical, psychological, cognitive, social, or behavioral issues. It is widely used with children on the autistic spectrum. In Hippotherapy, a relationship develops between horse and rider, allowing them to react to each other’s physical and mental state. In doing so the rider receives a great deal of support, often much more than he or she would receive from another human being. 
From personal experience, there is nothing greater than arriving home after a busy day at the office to be greeted by an excited, tail-wagging puppy. 
Animal rescue is one option that gives fulfillment for the adopter as well as the pet. There are numerous shelters from which to adopt pets. Many shelters can also provide information on training courses for those interested in pet therapy. 
For more information on pets and holistic pet care, click here.
1.The Healing Power of Pets by Dr. Marty Becker with Danielle Morton 
2.AHNA Beginnnings.  Volume 29, No. 3. Summer 2009 Animals and Healing. “Paws, Claws, Loving Companions: Pet Therapy and Children” by Mary Enzman Hines RN,PhD,CNC,CPNP,AHN-BC and “Establishing Pet Visitation in a Hospital Setting” by Mary Johnstone RN,BSN,HN-BC.  
Karen Overgaard is a recognized expert in the field of holistic nursing, a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association, and serves on the Advisory Board for Integrative Touch for Kids. She has over 20 years in clinical nursing experience. In addition to her position as a primary care nurse working at the Whole Child Care Center in Oradell with Dr. Lawrence Rosen, Karen is certified as an instructor in infant massage, yoga, fitness and dance; and is a Reiki Master. Most recently, Karen coordinated the Kids’ Weigh to Health program at Pascack Valley Hospital for children with weight and nutrition issues. She is currently a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in N.Y.C.
Winter  Newsletter 2009 
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