The Fourth People’s Hospital of Chengdu, a mental health center in Southwest China’s Sichuan province, has welcomed two dogs, Lidabao and Xuegao, to carry out psychological assistance therapy for emotionally disturbed patients. The dogs have been deployed as part of the animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in the hospital’s treatment process. This marks the first time that AAT has been implemented in Southwest China, and it highlights the hospital’s innovative approach to mental health treatment.
Animal-assisted therapy is a type of therapy that involves the use of animals, such as dogs, cats, and horses, in the treatment process. The animals help to improve the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of patients. The therapy has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction.
According to Chen Jiajia, who works with the hospital, Lidabao and Xuegao were previously deployed at nursing homes for seniors and orphanages before joining the hospital. The two dogs underwent a six-month probationary period at the hospital, during which they were trained and evaluated to ensure that they were suitable for the therapy.
During the probationary period, the dogs were introduced to patients and staff at the hospital. They were trained to interact with patients in a way that is safe, appropriate, and effective. They were also trained to perform specific tasks, such as providing comfort, reducing anxiety, and improving social interaction.
The dogs were evaluated by the hospital’s mental health professionals to determine their effectiveness in the therapy. The evaluation process involved monitoring the dogs’ behavior, assessing their impact on patients, and gathering feedback from patients and staff.
After the successful completion of the probationary period, Lidabao and Xuegao have been officially welcomed to the hospital as part of the AAT program. The dogs will work with mental health professionals to provide therapy to emotionally disturbed patients.
The use of animals in therapy has been found to have a number of benefits. For example, animals can help to reduce stress and anxiety, promote social interaction, and improve physical health. They can also provide comfort and emotional support to patients.
Animal-assisted therapy has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health issues. For example, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing found that animal-assisted therapy was effective in reducing depression and anxiety in patients with mental health issues.
Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that animal-assisted therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in military veterans. The study found that patients who received animal-assisted therapy had a significant reduction in symptoms of PTSD, compared to patients who received traditional therapy.
Animal-assisted therapy has also been found to be effective in treating addiction. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that animal-assisted therapy was effective in reducing cravings and improving mood in patients with addiction.
The Fourth People’s Hospital of Chengdu’s innovative approach to mental health treatment is a positive step forward in improving mental health services in China. The use of animal-assisted therapy is an effective and innovative way to provide therapy to emotionally disturbed patients. The use of Lidabao and Xuegao as part of the AAT program is a great example of how animals can be used to improve the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of patients.
Both dogs have passed rigorous evaluations and have been granted official working certificates, and they currently provide therapy twice a week. According to Chen Jiajia, a staff member at the hospital, AAT has been shown to be a successful method for treating depression and social anxiety, and has been widely used in treatment programs overseas to aid in patient recovery.
Animal-assisted therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many mental health centers and hospitals incorporating it into their treatment programs. Research has shown that interaction with animals can have positive effects on mental health and can improve mood, reduce stress, and increase feelings of social support.
Dogs are the most commonly used animals in AAT, as they have a natural ability to form close bonds with humans and are often seen as friendly and comforting. They can provide emotional support, physical comfort, and even act as a form of social lubricant, making it easier for patients to communicate with therapists.
In addition to therapy dogs, other animals such as cats, horses, and even llamas have been used in AAT programs. However, it is important to note that not all animals are suitable for this type of therapy, and they must undergo specialized training to ensure they can safely interact with patients.
The introduction of animal-assisted therapy at the mental health center in Chengdu is a positive step towards innovative and holistic mental health treatment. By incorporating therapy dogs into their treatment programs, the center is providing patients with a new form of emotional support that can have significant benefits for their mental health and wellbeing.
In January, a severely depressed boy who had stopped talking and even wrote a suicide note took part in the trial. During their first meeting, Lidabao seemed to sense the boy’s depression and instinctively nestled into his arms. The boy, who usually never showed his emotions, was surprised and later shared a story about himself and his pet.
The boy’s encounter with the therapy dog had a profound impact on his emotional state, leading to a transformative effect that caused him to open up to the psychologists and fully engage in his treatment. His remarkable progress eventually led to his discharge from the hospital with a newfound sense of hope and optimism. This experience is a testament to the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy in treating mental health disorders.
Chen Jiajia believes that the interaction between patients and dogs can be instrumental in helping patients open up emotionally. Psychologists play a critical role in facilitating this process by providing timely counseling and treatment to support the patient’s emotional well-being.
During the treatment process, psychologists pay close attention to what the patient is saying to identify any topics of interest. By establishing a genuine and trusting relationship with each patient, the psychologists can create a supportive environment that is conducive to follow-up psychotherapy.
The frequency of treatment is adjusted according to each patient’s needs and response to therapy, with the aim of providing more effective care for a greater number of patients, according to the hospital authorities. The dogs play a vital role in the treatment process, providing comfort and companionship to patients and serving as a bridge between them and the psychologists.
Animal-assisted therapy has been proven to be an effective method of treating depression and social anxiety, and has been widely used in treatment programs overseas. The success of this program in Southwest China highlights the innovative approach of the Fourth People’s Hospital of Chengdu to mental health treatment.
In conclusion, animal-assisted therapy is an effective and innovative approach to treating mental health disorders. The success of the program at the Fourth People’s Hospital of Chengdu highlights the importance of providing patients with a supportive environment that fosters emotional well-being and encourages open communication. With the help of therapy dogs and skilled psychologists, patients can make remarkable progress and achieve a sense of hope and optimism for the future.