Animal Assisted Prog for adults w/ chronic psycho-physical/psychiatric disablities
by, 02-02-2009 at 16.51.35 (2077 Visite)
An Animal Assisted Programme for adults with psycho-physical and/or psychiatric disablities in a chronic phase
Debra Buttram, Marcello Galimberti - AIUCA, Via IV Novembre, 26 - Bosisio Parini (LC), Italy firstname.lastname@example.org , Wilma Ratti, Claudia Robustelli - Casa di Cura Villa San Benedetto, Albese con Cassano (CO), Italy
The programme described here is involves 13 adults (6 female, 7 males) ranging in age from 30 to 50 years, all affected by organic deficiency such as cognitive development disorder (medium to severe), alcoholic dementia, cerebral stroke or psychiatric disorders, psychosis and anomalus behavioural problems. The two female professional special needs educators that work in the programme also work daily with the clients who are residents in mental health institute.
The programme, funded by the institue itself, began in January 2006 and continues at the time of writing with 1 hour weekly sessions in which a Pet Partners® team (one male handler/one 8-year female dog) is active in the group. The overall goals are to move the concentration of the residents from their own personal needs and discomfort, potentialise individual resources, channel frail and unstable emotions and uncontrolled impulsiveness so that they may assume and carry out finalised work.
In the presence of the dog, the residents show a natural sense of nurturing, leading to their activation in various tasks related to the dog’s care, tasks that they initiate and constantly and continually perform. Certain subjects, normally very passive to esternal stimulation and inhibited in their relational and comunicational capacities, have reached very positive results. It seems that touching, petting and taking care of the dog has awoken in them strong emotions tied to past personal experiences which leads them to seek out interaction with others, often the educators or the handler, in order to share the pleasure of recounting their experiences.
Particularly meaningful is the case of T., 35 year-old female affected cognitive developmental disorder, psychosis with persecutory ideation and aggressive impulses. The presence of an animal in the ward gratifies her affectively, concretely offering her a dimension in which she can share with the other residents.This led the educators to intervene with more specific objectives in order to help her modify aspects of her behaviour that are not functional in this context, enabling her to extend this in other moments of daily life in the institute. Other positive influences noted:
- willingness to help others carry out tasks regarding the dog’s care;
- respect for the needs and timing of the others;
- modification in communication with clear and precise expression;
- increased capacity to control her emotivity,
- increased ability to enjoy the moment, suffering less of the psychotic fixations leading to increased well-being and decrease in aggression.
The strong points of the programme are the definition of a starting point in which the affective-relational needs of the residents find a place and the temporal continuity during which behavioural developments and changes are noted. There is no pre-defined point of arrival, only the relationship with the dog and the reaction of the residents. Mutual understanding and agreement between the handler and the educators, investment of objectives and intentions in a projectual synergy towards assuring the well being of both the dog and the residents has been fondamental to the outcome.
IAHAIO 11th International Conference (Tokyo, 6-9 October 2007)