Laura is a fully insured and qualified CMA (complementary medical association) practitioner. She received a distinction for her Animal Assisted Therapy Diploma in July 2022. She is an ex-teacher who uses her love of animals and her experience from both mainstream and SEN schools to help her younger clients (as well as adults) to bring a complementary form of intervention to improve children, young people and adults’ well-being and mental health.
Animal Assisted Therapy(AAT) helps to create a safe place to explore feelings, express rooted issues, process trauma and heal. All at the individuals own pace enabling them to achieve therapeutic success themselves.
AAT is essentially a guided interaction between a trained animal (and their handler) and a person receiving treatment for a condition or who is in need of health-related assistance. It has gained popularity as part of integrated medical treatments for a variety of different mental and physical health conditions, such as cancer, cerebral palsy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and heart disease.
AAT is not just about bonding with an animal and feeling happier having spent time together. It involves a set of sessions that are formally structured in order to be integrated into a therapy recipient’s existing treatment plan, aiding in reaching their overall goals. It is personalised according to a recipient’s treatment objectives as directed by a treating medical health professional. Therapy sessions are also well documented and form part of tracking a person’s recovery or healing progress.
AAT doesn’t rely on an animal to ‘do the work’ for a recipient. A typical session may involve interactions such as petting and brushing or learning to physically care for or groom an animal. Pet therapy is an engaging experience, allowing physical contact (touch) through interaction, which often comes with a sense of achievement (a positive accomplishment which is beneficial for many treatment or rehabilitation programmes).
Laura uses different animals that she has within her zoo which are great with people. These animals include her Royal pythons, bearded dragons, guinea pigs and African pygmy hedgehog Heidi.
Laura also takes a variety of animals along to care homes, disabled residencies and hospices.
Animal therapy in care homes is becoming more and more popular. Studies show how beneficial animal interaction can be on people of all ages.
However, bringing their own animals into a care home is not always possible and inviting Our Animal World can resolve the issue. We bring some of our animals into care homes as well as SEN schools, nurseries, or can arrange animal therapy sessions. Animal therapy in care homes started out with household pets such as cats and dogs. Now the therapy also includes more exotic animals such as snakes, rabbits, bearded dragons and birds. The interaction with different creatures helps stimulate the residents’ brains. It helps to keep residents mentally active and engaged. Animals therapy brings people together. The therapy helps people cope with adverse situations, to settle and comfort people. Studies show that animal-assisted therapy helps to combat depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, loneliness, autism and PTSD. Michele Morrison in 2007 covered some of these in her study called ‘health benefits of animal-assisted interventions'. Animal therapy in care homes was also shown specifically to decrease the agitated behaviours of residents who have dementia. Therapy increases residents social interactions as it helps to remember and talk about past pets and animal experiences.