Any Animal Can be a Therapy Animal

Animal therapy is a great tool in your recovery.  Interaction with animals while in treatment has been shown to treat depression, increase self-esteem, help to learn healthy self-expression, and calm anxiety.  Doctors can use your interaction with an animal to identify which specific coping skills may work best for you.

While dogs may be one of the more popular animals used in therapy, many other animals have also been effectively used in treatment.


Equine therapy has been shown to be useful in treating people who have not shown improvement with therapy or counseling.  By tending to a horse’s basic needs, a patient forms a bond with the horse.  

Riding the horse is often not a part of equine therapy and treatment is more based on the relationship built between the patient and the horse.

Over the years, equine therapy has proven to be helpful in the treatment of a wide range of mental conditions. Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is defined by Everyday Health as “a type of experiential psychotherapy that uses horses to help in the treatment of psychological and behavioral issues.” It has been used to help treat the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Relationship problems
  • Communication issues


Caring for rabbits can be very therapeutic and works great in treating addiction and other mental health disorders.  

By taking on the responsibility of caring for a rabbit, patients learn to care for someone other than themselves.  The diminutive size and meek nature of rabbits will help to teach you to be more calm and gentle.


Dolphin-assisted therapy has been shown to improve the symptoms of addiction recovery patients with coexisting mental health disorders: depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.  

After swimming in open water with dolphins, patients have said to feel at peace, more open to forgiveness, and a felt a better sense of belonging. 

By monitoring a patient’s reactions in an unpredictable environment, such as the ocean, therapists can see how someone reacts to and copes with, stressful situations.


Cats are a great option in therapy for people who may be intimidated by dogs or larger animals. 

While not typically trained for use as service animals, cats make great companions for bonding and sharing thoughts and feelings with.  


Studies have shown that parrots have a high level of empathy making them great animals for emotional support.

Because of parrots ability to mimic, they can be taught to repeat specific words and phrases that can help calm a patient down during stressful situations.  


Reptiles such as snakes and lizards have been shown to help treat people struggling with depression.  

The additional concentration required to care for a reptile offers a great escape from mental and emotional struggles.  


The Lakehouse Recovery Center offers 30, 60, and 90 day programs to men and women seeking to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to providing excellent clinical care, we offer both recovery and non-recovery activities. Our goal is to show clients how to have fun again, learning how to live in recovery without drugs and alcohol. For information, call us today: 877.762.3707



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