Coming into 2018, the third leading cause of death among young people (ages 15-24) is suicide. With just over 20% of all American teens suffering from depression and 10 to 15% of teens suffering from major-depressive symptoms at any given time, countless worried parents look for new and powerful ways in which they can help their suffering child overcome their potentially fatal mental illness.
Depression is a severely debilitating mental illness that poses a grave threat to the future of roughly one-fifth of the nation’s teens. Due to its inherent stress on the teenage psyche, more than ever, today’s depressed teens look to self-sabotaging behaviors and harmful substance as a means of ‘escape’ and self-medication.
Consequently, many depressed teens have become what the behavioral health industry refers to as, troubled teens.
Animal Assisted Therapy Treats Mental Illness, Rather Than Its Symptoms
For those who are unaware, troubled teens is a behavioral term to describe teenage boys and girls whose out-of-control behaviors are indicative of well-hidden mental illness.
In regards to the therapeutic treatment of troubled teens, treating the symptoms of mental illness (AKA negative and out of control behaviors) is ineffective and does little in treating the mental illness that is responsible for their extreme, and often self-destructive actions.
With these implications in mind, it is crucial for parents of troubled teens to take it upon themselves to find a treatment that is capable of treating the underlying issues of troubled teens (AKA their mental illness) rather than a treatment which merely focuses on the symptoms.
Fortunately for parents and their struggling teens, Monuments Treatment Center is dedicated to sharing objectively effective treatment methods for the mentally ill, and mentally-ill troubled teens alike. We hope that by sharing this invaluable information with parents, we will be able to help them locate and utilize the most appropriate treatment methods for their child.
Below, we provide parents with information regarding the scientifically proven, albeit largely unknown, treatment methods of Animal Assisted Therapy. It is our hope at Monuments TC that parents can apply the knowledge of this ground-breaking therapy to assist them in their search for adequate treatment of their depressed, and in most cases, out-of-control, child. We would also like parents to know that we offer the very treatment that we discuss in this article – in fact, it happens to be a staple part of our program’s therapeutic curriculum.
While they may choose to turn elsewhere regarding the treatment of their child, we hope this informative article will encourage parents by making them aware of one simple fact: there is always sufficient rehabilitative resources out there for them to seek out and utilize.
It goes without saying that we at Monuments TC are more than capable of assisting parents of troubled teens with rehabilitating their troubled teenage boy or girl if they so choose. For more information about how Monuments TC can help your child, please call us anytime at 800-559-1980.
What is Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)?
For parents who feel as though traditional therapy is not capable of critically treating their depressed child, there is the mostly unknown, albeit, undeniably and clinically proven, Animal Assisted therapy to consider.
According to The child-behavioral experts at ChildTrends.org, Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal – whether it be a cat, dog, or in Monuments TC’s case, a horse – is introduced into the therapy treatment process.
The child-experts also have this to say about AAT’s functionality,
“AAT is designed to improve adjustment and enhance adaptive functioning as well as to decrease the source of social, emotional, cognitive problems and behavior or psychiatric condition of the patient. An experimental study of adolescent patients in a psychiatry unit found that the intervention resulted in a statistically significant improvement in global functioning, reduction of time spent in hospital, and an increase in regular school attendance.”
In other words, by introducing an animal into the therapeutic process of a teen’s mental health treatment, teenage boys and girls are enabled to undergo psychiatric restoration that would otherwise be much more difficult (if not impossible) to achieve with traditional therapy sessions.
The treatment of AAT, although groundbreaking, is pretty simple regarding its therapeutic execution. Primarily, the entirety of the therapy merely requires a teenage boy or girl to be responsible for the everyday care of an animal including, grooming, cleaning, teaching basic obedience commands, and walking of said animal. Of course, professional psychiatric help is also needed for the therapy to be effective. For the treatment to be counted as genuine Animal Assisted Therapy, the care of each animal must be provided by a human service professional who has specialized expertise in the field of AAT.
Animal Assisted Therapy is a Treatment Seemingly Created for Troubled Teens
The interesting thing about Animal Assisted Therapy is that it is naturally geared towards assisting teenagers, ages 11-18. Studies show that teens are more likely to benefit from the treatment’s naturally active therapeutic methods. As to why children are more susceptible to AAT’s therapeutic benefits, experts still aren’t quite sure. However, its powerful ability to connect with teens, depressed and troubled teens, in particular, is undeniable.
According to the child-behavioral professionals at Child Trends, all it takes for AAT sessions to work is 45 minutes a day and shows dramatic improvement in a teenager’s mental health in as few as three months. Whereas it would not be as effective for adults participating in similar treatments.
The following is a List of Just a Few of the Many Types of Issues AAT Treats:
- Anti-social behaviors
- Social ineptness
- Anxiety disorders
- Oppositional defiance disorder
- Low self-image/low self-confidence
- Lack of empathetic emotions
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance abuse disorder
- Suicidal ideation
Research has shown Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is effective in treating adolescents with mental health issues, and even co-occurring disorders such as substance addiction coupled with mental illness. As for its proven ability to help depressed teens where traditional therapy failed them, it is the cognitive, emotional, socially functional work and engagement with animals that is responsible, say the experts.