An Unlikely Hero: The Benefits of Emotional Support Animals

How would you like to be mindfully present, flowing pure positive energy, and without a care in the world in most moments? Then just try to be more like your dog…Of course, it’s not that simple. But those precious healing qualities are, in fact, part of the energetic impact, that pets can have on those around them, especially if they are able to surrender to a little connection with these furry friends. 

The energetic impact can be experienced whether the interaction is brief or long term; whether petting a friend’s pet, watching pets play together, or soaking up the constant companionship of a loved pet that has been with you through thick and thin. 

In any circumstance, there are scientifically measured positive effects of being around and connecting with pets. And it can be as simple as observing and being close to their energy, or as involved as playing with them, petting them, and loving them mindfully. 

So what are some of the benefits of pets, specifically those approved as emotional support animals? How does the experience of being around pets impact new recovery, and how can you soak up more healing from your time with pets, whether they are your own or your friends’? 

The experiences are as varied as pets themselves. First, let’s look at pet therapy: As a certified practice, this involves guided interaction with a pet and the pet’s handler, specific structured goals and tracked progress. Emotional Support Animals are also certified in that they are prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. Both of these services provide invaluable assistance for those challenged with mental health symptoms.

But the therapeutic effects of pets and animals in providing various health benefits are not confined to these structures. Let’s look at some of the therapeutic benefits of interacting with pets, both informally structured environments and just hanging out with your’s or a friends pet: 

Health Benefits of Emotional Support Animals 

  • Lessoning severity of many mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and phobias
  • Decreasing loneliness and isolation
  • Reducing boredom
  • Helping draw from companions nurturing and empathetic energies, helpful for all healing processes
  • Reducing stress
  • Fostering mindfulness and presence in the moment
  • Decreasing blood pressure 

All of these benefits can greatly increase ease, and alleviate some of the suffering associated with getting clean and sober. 

More and more studies are showing that the impact of a gentle animal companion may ease triggers and cravings, reduce anxiety, and reflect energetic tendencies that can be addressed more openly within therapeutic environments. 

Along with this, pets can help alleviate social anxiety by creating a unified focus, for two or more people who are interacting, while observing and playing with the pet. 

So what are some ways that you can soak up all this assistance? 

  • First, simply let yourself pet them. Some folks may remain guarded and for various reasons, keep their hands to themselves. But the power of petting, and the effect of this simple gesture on brain chemistry should be enough to prompt a small gesture of friendliness toward any pets that come your way.
  • Follow their lead. Whether it be a pat, a ball thrown, or a game of running and chasing, letting them bring you into the moment offers similar benefits to a short stint of meditation, may break up negative thought patterns that are in process, and create some contagious joy for the pet and you.
  • Pay attention to your own reactions, these are great clues to bring up in therapy, with friends, or for personal insight. Are you reluctant to feel the positive energy they bring? Perhaps they are bringing to light feelings that need to be addressed. Do you light up when they are around, only to lose that light when they are not? Perhaps they are helping you see what energies you need more of in life and where to place greater focus.

At Oasis Recovery, we love to see the positive impact of emotional support animals on recovering individuals who benefit from these sweet beings. If you are struggling with addiction and would like a supportive treatment environment, that welcomes emotional support animals, click here. If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, that welcomes emotional support animals, click here

To see a short clip with some of our dedicated staff, sharing the benefits of emotional support animals, and to also meet one of Oasis Recovery’s emotional support dogs view the video below. 

We hope to offer one more avenue for some comfort in the challenging times of new recovery, through our experience with these fun, friendly, positively focused furry beings. 

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