Presentation by Calo Concerning the Use of Canines in Residential Treatment Centers
I recently attended an excellent presentation from Calo concerning the use of therapy dogs to treat adolescents with developmental trauma. The group uses canine therapy as an alternative to traditional behavioral modification treatment. Youth in the Calo program are responsible for taking care of a canine. This care-giving experience is intended to create a deeper understanding of commitment, acceptance, secure relationships and attunement. This, in turn, is used to develop the child’s relationship with other humans, particularly caregivers (parents, teachers, therapists, etc.). Calo also offers wilderness programs for preteens, teens, and young adults that incorporate canines as well as an intensive program for families.
In addition to the particulars of the therapeutic programs offered by Calo, the speaker discussed the utility of animals in reducing anxiety and for therapeutic purposes generally. Although she did not go in depth concerning the research behind this, anecdotally I could definitely relate to the statement. The presence of my dog, Greg, after a hard day immediately puts me at ease and allows me to think clearly. I also know numerous therapists that incorporate animals in their practices.
The program brought to mind recent attempts by the New York City Department of Education to use service animals in the classroom – a measure I definitely applaud. Although I was never able to bring Greg into the classroom when I taught, I always thought that his presence could have helped some of my students. A student’s right to bring a service animal into school is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), however this right does not extend to emotional support animals (the ADA regulations define a “service animal” as an animal specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities). I will explore this topic more fully in a future blog post.
In the meantime, please check out the various programs offered by the Calo group here: https://caloteens.com/.