If you have ever had a challenging day and returned home to the purring of a contented kitty or the snuggles of a loving puppy, you have experienced the amazing connections that we can forge with our animal companions. Along the path to healing from deep trauma, God’s creatures play such an important role because they are so often completely accepting and because there is something so profound about looking into the eyes of an animal and finding friendship and connection.
In September of 2020, Karin Hediger and her research team published a systematic review of the research on the use of Animal Assisted Interventions (the purposeful and therapeutic inclusion of animals in encounters and activities to help improve mental health), and it showed that preliminary research suggests that these animal encounters can be a powerful tool for healing. Animal Assisted Interventions, such as getting a trained service dog, have been shown to lower PTSD symptoms and depression.
At Rebirth Homes, we include key encounters with animals to help support holistic healing. Two types of animals our participants encounter are horses and chickens. Through equine therapy, which was suspended during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but has since been reintegrated into our program, our participants get the chance to encounter and connect with horses. Often, the horses can sense when a participant needs a moment of connection and extra care. Our houses in Riverside County also have a chicken coop with a number of chickens that provide fresh eggs for those in the program as well.