Home Page divider Read all about the Angels at Animal Angels Foundation divider Learn about Animal Assisted Therapy divider Angels at Work divider Volunteer with Animal Angels Foundation divider Media coverage for Animal Angels Foundation (selected) divider Services provided by Animal Angels Foundation divider Contact Animal Angels Foundation
divider divider AAT courses at Animal Angels Foundation divider orange line divide Testimonials divider orange line divider Watch videos of Animal Angels Foundation divider orange line divider Donate towards Animal Angels Foundation
Animal Angels Foundation logo partial Dynamically changing pictures of animal angels foundation
DNA logo
The Week logo
Indian Womenpreneurs logo
Business Standard logo
Times Now TV logo
The Afternoon Despatch and Courier logo
Goa Streets logo
Outlook India logo
My City For Kids logo
Business For All logo
Outlook Business logo
Reader's Digest logo
Indian Express logo
Asian Age logo
The Deccan Herald logo
The Verve magazine logo
Parent & Child magazine logo
Hindustan Times logo
Mumbai Mirror logo
Times of India logo
The Pioneer logo
Elle magazine logo
Open magazine logo
Intelligent Entrepreneur logo
Positive News logo
Health n Nutrition magazine logo
Dignity Dialogue magazine logo
andpersand magazine logo
The Free Press Journal logo
Golden Retriever Club of India logo
India Today logo
Mid-Day logo
TimeOut article
Dogs&Pups logo
Nasik Times logo
MoneyLIFE logo
Educare logo
Creature Companion logo
Yuva logo
Saamana logo
Aapla Mahanagar logo
Loksatta logo
Sandhyanand logo
Chitralekha logo

Big bullet   Times of India - March 7, 2014

Articles in The Times of India and its supplements
orange-paw bullet
Healing with animal-assisted therapy
Reza Noorani
orange-paw bullet
Dog's day out: Airline lets pet fly with autistic master
Manju V
orange-paw bullet
Touched by an Angel
Shail Desai
orange-paw bullet

Animal-aided therapy is a hit in India as well
Malathy Iyer & Anuradha Mane
orange-paw bullet
Heard of a therapet?
Read the article on the Bombay Times website

Healing with animal-assisted therapy
Reza Noorani

With a Canadian university using puppies as stress-busters for students, we see more animals helping people with different ailments

Animals help a child unleash its creative potential

City-based nine-year-old kid, Anjali, a girl with special needs, was usually a calm child. She had suffered mentally because when she was young, she saw her father commit suicide in front of her eyes and was seeking therapy for the trauma. However, one day, in the middle of therapy, she just stopped talking.

She turned aggressive, started hitting her classmates and her overall behaviour became abusive. Therapist Radhika Nair who was treating her, says, "Anjali would not talk to anyone. It was strange because we were already treating her for the trauma she suffered seeing her father pass away, but instead of recovering, she became quiet.

In the course of her therapy, it was revealed that Anjali's maternal uncle was molesting her at the time." This she didn't reveal to a therapist, but to a therapy dog who was working with her, adds Nair. "The child wanted to express her emotions, but couldn't do it to another human being as she had lost trust in humans, but she confided to the dog." This revelation not only helped treat Anjali, but also put a stop to a serious form of abuse. It brought a new form of therapy to light.


Joint playtime with a pet

This is a case where animal-assisted therapy (AAT) comes into play. AAT is a form of treatment where animals are used to motivate the patient and act as mediators when the patient doesn't respond to normal therapy. AAT has a surprising success rate since people, mostly kids, respond amazingly to pets. "When we walk in with dogs, the client looks at us in a positive way. Then we are not therapists or doctors, but fun people coming with a dog", adds Nair.


While pets are used to treat post traumatic stress disorder to heal people who have been through lifealtering incidents like terrorist attacks, bomb blasts and even soldiers back from war zones, they work best with kids who are autistic. "We found our most positive results with children who have autism. Since it hinders a kid's ability to interact with people and they live in a world of their own, a dog is someone who is non-judgemental and kids open up to them more easily. Another example Nair cites is of a kid with severe autism who avoided eye contact with people, including her parents, "This child didn't respond to her name, she avoided eye contact and remained very aloof. After a couple of tough sessions she opened up, and the very next day, after a fruitful session where she was playing with the therapy dog, she actually held the hand of a child in class", she says.


The most common therapy animals are dogs (they even use a Golden Retriever, a Beagle and pug), although cats too are used. Says animal therapist Rohini Fernandes, "We use cats with adults. They go and curl up in their laps, which helps them relieve stress as they pet the cat which is quite soothing and reveal things to us which they otherwise wouldn't." While with kids, it is dogs who work best, as kids often want to run around and play, mid-therapy. "The dogs that are used to treat kids are trained. We select extremely well-behaved dogs with a good temper," says Fernandez who trains dogs to not react even if the child hurts it.

Kids in a workshop with a labrador


© 2020 Animal Angels Foundation. All rights reserved. Photography: Sameer Mangtani

Site created by: Designscape