The Association for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel

Animal Therapy

Animal Therapy

Animals help our children learn about different life processes including dealing with the challenges of life and rendering support. Additionally, they affect our physiology, health and self-image. When children work with different animals it evokes feelings such as love, compassion, happiness or hatred, fear and rejection. They also learn many life skills such as order and cleanliness, food preparation, personal responsibility and devotion. 

Animals are powerful allies for people with special needs. They have the capacity to generate change in the process of learning and development. Animals can become a child's best friends, creatures who rely on them for protection and help. In certain cases, animals can also be used to help the children lower their defenses and provide them with a contact focus. The animal treatment is guided by a team of professional therapists who guide the child in their connection with the animal. 

Goals & Aims of Animal Therapy:
  • To strengthen social ties through animals  
  • To enable the children to get to know themselves and their environment 
  • To learn how to treat animals and people with sensitivity
  • To develop higher self-esteem

Therapeutic framework at Shalva :
The professionals at SHALVA treat intimate groups of four to seven kids, who are divided according to their level of functioning. There, children work with a wide variety of animals including bunnies, guinea pigs, hamsters and small birds. The animals are chosen according to their compatibility with the complex therapeutic challenges that need to be addressed.

Participants in animal therapy activities become more alert and responsive; they smile and laugh and become calmer and less introverted. In addition, the tactile experience that takes place between the children and the animals provides this relationship with therapeutic intimacy. 

Animals can touch the hearts of children with even the most severe disabilities and open new channels of expression and communication.

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