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More People in Need Can Benefit from Pet Therapy

cat therapyBy Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

No doubt about it. People have a deep and complex relationship with animals, which elicit a wide range of emotional responses by their very presence and interactions with human beings.

But these days, animals are being involved in human therapy in innovative ways that depart drastically from traditional notions of animal-assisted therapy.

“Most people think of nursing homes, and people going in to cheer up the elderly,” said Bill Kueser, vice president of marketing for the Delta Society, a nonprofit group that promotes animal-assisted therapy. “It’s really become much more than that.”

Animals have become part of many types of psychotherapy, physical therapy and crisis response, Kueser said. And it’s not simply using a therapy dog to calm or soothe a person, either, he said.

Cats and parrots, for instance, are being incorporated into therapy for people who tend to act out because of aggression or impulse control issues, Kueser said.

“The animal will stay near that person until the person starts upsetting the animal, and then they’ll move away,” he said. “The doctor then can point out the effect the patient’s behavior had on the animal. They seem to be able to work through aggression issues more effectively that way.”

Larger animals also are being used in therapy. Horses are helping troubled teenagers better control their behavior, according to the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. The kids gain self-esteem from working with such a large animal, but they also learn to regulate their emotions so they don’t “spook” the horse.

People undergoing physical therapy to regain motor skills essential to living also are receiving help from animals. “Instead of moving pegs around on a peg board, the patient might be asked to buckle or unbuckle a leash, or brush an animal,” Kueser said.

Even normally calm people who are facing stressful situations are getting help these days from animals.

One recent study found therapy dogs effective in easing the anxiety of people waiting to have an MRI — and their help didn’t involve the side effects that often accompany the use of anti-anxiety medication.

“We found that people who had spent time with a therapy dog were calmer during the test than those who hadn’t,” said Dr. Richard Ruchman, chairman of radiology at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J.

Other non-traditional settings also have been utilizing animals to help keep people calm. Courtrooms are one example. “There are more and more animals allowed in court,” Kueser said. “Somebody might be very upset about having to get up and testify, particularly if the person who victimized them is there. Animals have been shown to help calm people down in that setting.”

Therapy dogs also are being incorporated into crisis relief efforts, said Amy Rideout, director and president of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, a group that makes therapy dogs available at crisis scenes.

HOPE was formed shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when social workers found that therapy dogs were helpful in getting tough Ground Zero crisis responders to open up about the toll their grisly work had been taking on their psyches, Rideout said.

“They don’t want to show stress. They want to find their buddies,” Rideout said of the 9/11 responders. “Many knew something was wrong, but they didn’t want to talk to a mental health professional about it.”

But when a therapy dog accompanied the therapist, the responders tended to open up more frequently. “The dogs made a bridge between the mental health professional and the person,” she explained.

Though a wide variety of animals are utilized in therapy work, dogs still tend to bear the biggest burden. For example, dogs make up 95 percent of the pet partner teams registered with the Delta Society, Kueser said.

Part of this has to do with the adaptability and portability of dogs, Rideout said. Dogs have become so domesticated that they are easier to introduce into a wide variety of settings.

But that domestication also has forged a deep bond with humans that makes dogs particularly helpful in therapy. Interaction with dogs, Kueser said, has been found to lower blood pressure, steady rapid breathing, reduce levels of stress hormones and increase levels of calming hormones.

“There’s something very primal about the companionship of a dog.” Ruchman said.

Original Article: The New Face of Pet Therapy

CE Course on Animal Assisted Therapy

In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral challenges, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. This presentation will focus exclusively on Animal Assisted Therapy and will not include information on other similar or related therapy.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Mental Health

 

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Louisiana OT License Renewal & CE Info

From the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners

Online CEUs for Louisiana OTs

Board-Approved Online CEUs for Louisiana OTs

Louisiana-licensed Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) are required to renew their licenses annually and must complete 15 hours of continuing education (CE) each year in order to renew.

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer online continuing education to OTs by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA #3159). Louisiana OTs may earn all 15 hours from the AOTA-approved online courses available @ https://www.pdresources.org/profession/index/5.

Popular Online Courses for OTs:

Improving Communication with Your Young Clients is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that teaches clinicians effective and practical communication and conversational skills to use with young clients and their families.

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

The Occupational Therapist in Long Term Care is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides an overview of occupational therapy services in skilled nursing facilities.

Therapeutic Aspects of Running is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that will equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge to encourage clients on developing a healthy individualized running regimen while preventing running injuries.

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes DSM-5 diagnostic changes, assessment, intervention models, dietary modifications, nutrition considerations and other theoretical interventions.

Professional Development Resources is an American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) approved provider of continuing education (#3159). The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.

 

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Animal Assisted Therapy Improves Medical, Behavioral and Emotional Health

By Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal Assisted TherapyAnimal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) practitioners blend guided therapeutic interventions with safe and highly motivating animal-human interactions that are designed to focus and share attention. AAT’s ability to capture and maintain an individual’s focus can encourage and expand joint attention, which, according to Prizant (2008), is a pivotal skill or a fundamental building block that influences the development of emotional regulation, social skills, and communication.

By maintaining interest and attention, AAT works to support language and motor activities, encourage social interaction, provide sensory integration, and motivate students to do their best. This philosophy of engaging an individual’s interest often yields beneficial results for children and adults with special needs. According to noted researcher Barry Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP (2008), “The most effective approaches [for Autism Spectrum Disorders] infuse developmental, child-centered, and family-centered principles in educational programming for children with ASD.”

“One of the most fundamental advantages of animal-assisted therapy over other therapeutic modalities is that it provides the patient a much-needed opportunity to give affection as well as receive it. It is this reciprocity, rare among medical therapies, that makes AAT a unique and valuable route to healing.” – Dr. Andrew Weil (2011), world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine.

A Brief History

Although the term Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is relatively new, the use of animals to help people overcome illness and/or mental disorders is not a new idea. The earliest use of pet animals for therapeutic use was in Belgium in the middle ages, where pets and people were rehabilitated together, with pets providing a part of the natural therapy for the humans. Following this practice, The York Retreat in Germany and Bethel for the mentally ill and the homeless included animals, as a part of the therapeutic milieu reaping the benefits. Later, the Human Animal Bond was conceptualized by a Psychologist, Boris Levinson and Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian Nobel laureate in Physiology. This bond is explained as an intrinsic need in humans to bond with nature, especially in the background of their chaotic lives. The modern movement of using companion animals as a means of therapy had a multidisciplinary origin, involving the fields of veterinary medicine, psychology, sociology, psychiatry funded by pet food industry.

There are references to the fact that the early Greeks used horses to lift severely ill people’s spirits. In the 17th century, physicians reportedly began using horses as treatments to improve both physical and mental health issues in their patients. In the 1940s, the American Red Cross and the Army Air Corps established a farm where recuperating veterans could interact with and take care of animals while they were healing from war injuries and illness. Working with the animals was thought to comfort the recovering veterans, help them forget about the war, and focus on recovery.

How Can I Learn More?

Animal Assisted TherapyLois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS, developed a 2-hour online continuing education course to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. The online course, Animal Assisted Therapy, is accredited for psychologists, counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists. Click here to learn more.

Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS, is passionate about working with the special needs community. She found her calling while in high school, when she spent her summer breaks volunteering in camp programs for children with special needs. Lois has over two decades of experience working as a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in autism spectrum disorder and is a Certified Autism Specialist. Educational accomplishments include a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, Certificate in Assistive Technology, Certificate in Computer Based Intervention and completion of an Animal Assisted Therapy Program.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

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Animal Assisted Therapy Approved for ASHA CEUs

Animal Assisted TherapyIn Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

Course #20-62 | 2012 | 30 pages | 20 posttest questions
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Biomarker for Autism May Be On the Horizon

By Rick Nauert, PhD

Biomarker for Autism May Be On the HorizonCurrently, physicians and medical scientists diagnose a child as possessing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by observing behavior patterns over the child’s first three years of life.

New research from a Swedish University suggests advanced mass spectrometry can provide a rapid, inexpensive diagnostic method for ASD.

Investigators from Uppsala University have published their study, suggesting particular protein patterns or biomarkers can be used to detect ASD, in the journal Nature Translational Psychiatry.

These would be the first acknowledged biomarkers for autism.

Many diseases are caused by protein alterations inside and outside the body’s cells. By studying protein patterns in tissue and body fluids, these alterations can be mapped to provide important information about underlying causes of disease.

Sometimes protein patterns can also be used as biomarkers to enable diagnosis or as a prognosticating tool to monitor the development of a disease. In the current study, disruptions of the nervous system were in focus when the scientists studied protein patterns in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Researchers performed a detailed protein analysis of blood plasma from children with ASD compared with a control group. Using advanced mass spectrometric methods, they succeeded in identifying peptides consisting of fragments of a protein whose natural function is in the immune system, the complement factor C3 protein.

The study is based on blood samples from a relatively limited group of children, but the results indicate the potential of the methodological strategy, said researcher Jonas Bergquist, Ph.D. There is already a known connection between this protein and ASD, which further reinforces the findings, he said.

The hope is that this new set of biomarkers ultimately will lead to a reliable blood-based diagnostic tool.

Source: http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/26/biomarker-for-autism-may-be-on-the-horizon/36536.html

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Encouraging Eye Contact May Disturb Autistic Kids’ Thinking

Encouraging Eye Contact May Disturb Autistic Kids' ThinkingChildren with autism look away from faces when thinking, especially about a challenging problem — just as people without the condition do, according to a recent study.

Avoiding eye contact is a common behavior of people with autism, and children with the condition are sometimes trained and encouraged to meet other’s gazes.

But the new findings show that looking away sometimes serves a purpose, and encouraging eye contact can interfere with a child’s thoughts.

“Although social skills training is important in encouraging eye contact with children with autism,” the new study shows that gaze aversion is helpful in concentrating on difficult tasks, said study researcher Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, an associate dean at Northumbria University in England.

“When teachers or parents ask a child a difficult question, and they look away, our advice would be to wait to allow them to process the information, and focus on finding a suitable response,” Doherty-Sneddon said.

The findings are published in the April issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and were first posted online in Oct. 26.

The study included 20 children with autism and 18 with William’s Syndrome, a rare, genetic condition that typically causes learning disabilities and a distinct, highly social, overly friendly personality. The researchers asked the children carry out mental arithmetic tests.

They found that both groups of children engaged in gaze aversion while thinking, and increased their gaze aversion as question difficulty increased.

The study showed that autistic children follow the same patterns as other children when processing complex information or difficult tasks, the researchers said. Children without autism and adults look away when asked difficult questions, and gaze aversion has been proven in the past to improve the accuracy of responses.

When trying to retrieve information from memory, or solve a complex problem, looking at someone’s face can interfere with the way the brain processes information relative to the task. This is, in part, because faces are such rich sources of information that capture our attention, according to the study.

Pass it on: Children with autism who look away might, in some cases, be thinking hard or trying to solve a problem.

Source: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2321-autism-eye-contact-thinking-behavior.html

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Animal Assisted Therapy – New Online Course!

Animal Assisted Therapy

Click to view course details

In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. This course is designed provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

The author, Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, is a practicing speech-language pathologist registered in animal-assisted therapy. She has a very loveable potbelly pig named Buttercup who accompanies her to therapy sessions, where he enhances her work with students on the spectrum. Buttercup has made a lasting impression on students, staff, and caregivers – essentially all who meet him. He has helped some students attain their goals and others just feel safer and more secure in the therapy environment, allowing them to focus their attention on a task. He has heard many students utter their first words, start conversations, or ask questions. He has been combed, brushed, fed, and cared for by many students. Lois has found that having an animal creates an atmosphere of trust that motivates children to expand their skills, strive to do their best, and strengthen the relationship between them and her.

Rosy Chu interviews Lois and Buttercup on KTVU Bay Area People: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9ypo0GzPkUs

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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in General

 

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