Counseling and Psychological Services

Bodhi was born on February 25, 2012. He is a lovable Havanese who enjoys bringing smiles to the UCF campus community as a Registered Therapy Dog through Therapy Dogs International. He is considered a staff member at the University of Central Florida Counseling and Psychological Services and is at work three days week. Bodhi (pronounced B OH D – HEE) is traditionally translated into English with the word “enlightenment” and literally means “awakened”. It is from the verbal root “to awake, become aware, notice, know, or understand.”

According to pets.thearticlechannel.com, the Havanese breed’s traits have allowed it versatile action in a wide range of occupations, even if at its core it is still very much a companion dog. The dog’s cheerful, exuberant personality and quickness at training helps it do well in jobs that have to do with public service and coming to other people’s assistance. This dog breed thus has the traits of an ideal pet therapy and assistance dog, coming to soothe and relax people with physical and emotional concerns.

Bodhi’s Human

Bodhi is cared for by Valeska Wilson-Cathcart, LMH

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy improves patients’ mental, physical, social and emotional functioning with the aid of animals. Depending on the needs of the patient, many different animals can be used in therapy, including horses (also called equine-assisted therapy), dogs (also called canine-assisted therapy), dolphins, llamas, rabbits and other animals.

Animal-assisted therapy takes place in a variety of settings, including prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, therapeutic boarding schools for teens, mental health facilities and universities and colleges. This form of treatment can take place individually or in groups, and is led by a qualified therapist or professional with specialized training.

What are the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy?

There is a strong bond between animals and people. Animals are accepting, non-threatening and non-judgmental, making it easier for people to open up. Some of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy include:

  • Increased focus and attention
  • Increased self-esteem and ability to care for oneself
  • Reduced anxiety, grief and isolation
  • Reduced depression
  • Improved willingness to be involved in a therapeutic program or group activity
  • Increased trust, empathy and teamwork
  • Greater self-control
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills
  • Improved social skills

Because many children, teens and adults enjoy working with animals, animal-assisted therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have difficulty accessing their emotions or expressing themselves in talk therapy.

Why is animal assisted therapy important?

It’s been shown that people who spend time with pets live longer, get sick less, and have lower blood pressure. Petting and talking to animals lowers stress in people and the animals they are interacting with. It can also be a great way to lift people out of isolation and loneliness. Pets are wonderful listeners and provide unconditional love.