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Animal Companions and Mental Wellbeing

By June 27, 2024Newsletter
Animal companions

The Healing Power of Animal Companionship

By Juliet Weschke, BA

It is no secret that animal companions and mental wellbeing go together and have a tremendously positive effect on the body and mind. Whether you have a house pet or a support animal, or prefer to view animals in nature, all forms of animal interaction are healing to the soul. Family pets provide the most common form of human-animal interaction.  Pets and their humans enjoy many things together, such as a dog eagerly greeting you at the door, or a cat wanting to be pet on the sofa.  Even as a bird owner, I myself sense the relief my pet feels when I come home.

In addition to traditional pet relationships, the connection to animal companions and mental wellbeing are being seen in new ways.

Farm Therapy: The Unconventional Path to Wellness

There is one form of interaction that isn’t as common but at least as beneficial: caring for farm animals. New York City is not the best place for a pasture, but “the British National Health Service is establishing ‘care farms’ as part of mental health treatment, following a trend established in Europe” (Psychology Today). These therapeutic farms see patients participate in agricultural tasks that unite nature, animals, and humans as one. Also an increasing number of people are taking on farm animals such as pigs, goats, and ducks as household pets.

Birdwatching: A Soothing Connection with Nature

If you prefer watching the animal kingdom from a distance, a great option would be to invest in a bird feeder/fountain for your home. They are easy to make; I made one with a halved coconut as a birdseed holder when I was young. You might notice how calming it is to watch birds of all kinds interact, and discover the animal lover in you.


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