Animal-Assisted Therapy at EDCare
The development of an eating disorder can be influenced by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. With so many variables, treatment is often complicated. Not only do patients feel isolated from others, but from their authentic selves, as well.
As a therapy dog, Deke is able to relate to patients in a way Pam and other mental health professionals cannot. The patient-canine connection helps individuals explore their thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening, unconditional, and judgment-free way. Even watching Deke sleep, eat, and breathe peacefully and naturally can provide calmness for patients who are addressing painful issues and memories.
Additionally, this connection helps patients assess their human interpersonal relationships, personal boundaries, communication style, and non-verbal cues. Deke’s natural, authentic-self allows him to sense the unspoken emotional demeanor of patients and be responsive to their vulnerable feelings. When patients interact with Deke’s kind, playful, and trusting style, it helps them trust and align with the therapeutic process. For many people, the unique animal-human interaction experienced through AAT helps them experience their emotions and reconnect to their authentic selves in a more soothing and accepting way. In fact, research suggests AAT is more beneficial for many patients than receiving traditional psychotherapy by itself. Sometimes it takes an animal to make us more human.
Over the course of 5 years, Deke completed more than 400 patient visits and was awarded the title of Distinguished Therapy Dog by the American Kennel Club and received a gold medal of honor. Deke is a valued member of the EDCare team.