Emotional Support for Trauma Victims: The Benefits of Canine Rescue

At Greenbrier Academy, we offer many different types of therapeutic programs that help our girls with various issues, including ADHD, depression, anxiety and trauma. Some programs, while intensely therapeutic, don’t appear to be immediately.

Consider our canine rescue program, for instance.

With this program, the girls rescue dogs from local shelters and rescue centers. The dogs receive the vet care they need, while the girls take care of them and prepare them for a forever home.

While it may seem as if the dogs are getting all the perks, the students who participate in this canine rescue program are benefiting as well.

Benefits of Canine Rescue for Troubled Teenagers

So, what are the benefits of rescuing these dogs?

Embracing Responsibility

Throughout the program, the students involved do more than just play with the dogs they rescue. They feed the dogs, brush them and take them on walks- even in the rain. This teaches them how to be responsible for another living creature, and how to put someone other than themselves first. It’s a very important lesson, especially for troubled teenagers that have trouble taking on responsibility or following the rules.

Emotional Support

Trauma, depression, anxiety and stress are just a few of the mental health issues students attending our girls’ private boarding school come to us with. The dogs help with these issues in so many ways.

  • They help keep the girls calm. In fact, studies have shown that owning a dog actually affects the cardiovascular system and how it responds to stress. The simple act of petting a dog or having a dog close to you can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • They reduce social isolation. We’ve found that girls who are typically shy or have social anxiety tend to be more social with others while they are interacting with a dog. Dogs also force the girls to get up, walk around and come in contact with other individuals.
  • Dogs help girls recovering from past trauma. While our counselors and therapists work with the girls to uncover traumatic moments from their past and change their perception of these moments, dogs help in a few ways as well. They are exceptional listeners. They may not be able to understand what their girl is saying, but they’ll sit and listen to her talk for hours. Many are also excellent at providing comfort. Even something as simple as a paw on the leg or leaning against a student’s chest can bring about feelings of calm, control and comfort.

Improved Self-Esteem

Many of the girls who participate in our canine rescue program don’t know a lot about taking care of a dog. However, with a little instruction and a few positive licks from their puppy, their self-esteem increases dramatically. Each day, they learn something new and become a better pet parent.

Troubled teens with low self-esteem, past trauma, depression or social anxiety can benefit greatly from the canine rescue program. As the dogs receive love and care, the girls are given comfort, love and attention from their new canine friends. Want to learn more? Visit our Animal Program page now.

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