Mental Health Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy

The power of man’s best friend goes beyond companionship. Humans have used canines and animals for numerous reasons throughout history. While many animals have been used to assist humans in specific activities, animals have also been used for years to help people’s physical and mental health. Perhaps the first instance of this was with the ancient Greeks who used horses to cheer up the severely ill, and later in medieval Belgium, animals were used in therapy with humans with positive results.1 Since then, pet therapy has become a more popular mental health treatment.

Pet Therapy at Banyan Mental Health

Our mental health facility in Boca offers a pet therapy program to help our patients overcome their struggles. We provide visits with trained therapy pets who we believe can help our patients work through their problems better and give them hope. The pet’s handler will guide the interaction between human and animal. The type of pet therapy will be determined by what the doctor believes will most benefit the patient. The patient’s doctor will also set realistic goals that pet therapy will hopefully accomplish. Pet therapy is just one type of therapy we utilize to help our patients.

How Pet Therapy Works

While you are probably familiar with therapy dogs or emotional support animals, you may not understand the depth of animal-assisted therapy and how it works. There are a variety of different pet therapy programs out there. Pets have been shown to help people with their physical and mental health, regardless of age, gender, or background.

Some of the most common mental health ailments that have benefited from pet therapy include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Addiction

A therapy cat may help a child struggling with depression open up about her parent’s divorce. An emotional support dog could help a veteran coping with PTSD feel safe. A therapy rabbit can give hope to a young man struggling with addiction. A therapy dog can help a suicidal woman feel needed. Pet therapy programs work because they focus on the power of the bond between human and animal in a structured therapeutic setting. It can help decrease feelings of stress and loneliness, encouraging patients to open up or be receptive to their doctor and other treatments. Patients may also become more self-aware after animal-assisted therapy. Animal-assisted therapy can be a helpful addition to other anxiety or depression treatments. If you or a loved one is struggling with how to overcome PTSD or how to deal with depression, then pet therapy might be a good option for you.

Pet therapy is not the only option out there. If you or a loved one is in need of mental health treatment, please reach out to Banyan Mental Health today. Pet therapy is just one approach to overcoming mental health ailments and co-occurring disorders. Our doctors will be able to help create a well-rounded plan specific to you or your loved one. Let our mental health program in Boca help guide you on the road to recovery and a better life.


  1. Alliance of Therapy Dogs – A History of Animal-Assisted Therapy
  2. National Alliance on Mental Health – The Power of Pet Therapy