The Peacock Foundation is built on the principle that introducing an animal into a group setting assists the therapist in building positive relationships with and lowering the anxiety level of the children and teens in the groups.
With the help of mental health professionals and trained animals and their handlers, children learn about mental health care, and how to advocate and access it for themselves and for others.
Everyone in the next generation deserves to know how to get help with the thoughts in their head and the emotions in their hearts. Partnering with an animal allows the therapist to offer comfort and joy in a tangible way. Developing a conduit for the therapist to teach social skills, communication skills, and coping
The Peacock Foundation believes that animals are a safe way to connect with kids.
It is proven that petting an animal can lower anxiety and reduce the biological reactions (heart rate, breathing, sweaty palms) that our bodies have when feeling fear or anxiety. We have all seen or experienced the power of animals in our lives. The innate desire to touch and love an animal is part of our DNA.
So for eight weeks during our program, an animal brings compassion and love to children. A trained therapist uses the animal as an opportunity to connect. Together, we de-stigmatize therapy, teach children how to access help when they need it, work on social and communication skills, and build self-esteem.
Understanding AAT, AAI, AAA
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is incorporated as an integral part of the clinical healthcare treatment process. AAT is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interactions.
Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) are “any therapeutic intervention that intentionally includes or incorporates animals as part of the therapeutic process or milieu."* These sessions are an enhanced form of traditional therapy. They are facilitated by mental health professionals and often explore a client’s past experiences, sense of self, and world views.
Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) "provide opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life.”** These sessions aim to teach clients about the visiting animals or provide animal companionship, but they do not delve into an individual’s deeper psyche. They are typically facilitated by professionals or paraprofessionals from a variety of fields (i.e. zoology, education) and/or by volunteer animal handlers.
Want to learn more? Here are some good reads, referenced above:
* Fine, Aubrey H, ed. (2006). Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice, 2nd ed. Academic Press: London.
** Kruger, Katheine A., Trachtenberg, Symme W., & Serpell, James A. (2004). Can animals help humans heal? Animal-assisted interventions in adolescent metal health. 1-37.