Pets have long been known to improve mood and lower stress levels. A recent study has underlined the therapeutic value of developing a bond with pets.
Dr. Froma Walsh poured the research in two articles, entitled "Human-Animal Bonds I," (focused on the benefits of companion animals) and "Human-Animal Bonds II," (focused on their role in couple and family dynamics and family therapy).
The expert sought to determine the value of the human-animal bond in child development, elderly care, mental illness, physical impairment, dementia, abuse and trauma recovery, and the rehabilitation of incarcerated youth and adults.
She further looked at how the relationship can strengthen human resilience through times of crisis, persistent adversity, and disruptive transitions, such as relocation, divorce, widowhood, and adoption.
The expert found that a pet maybe seen as part of the healing team and even as a co-therapist in ensuring the well-being by providing a range of benefits, ranging from stress reduction and playfulness, to loyal companionship, affection, comfort, security, and unconditional love.
Dr. Walsh said: "The powerful meaning and significance of companion animals is underestimated."
The study was published in the October 2009 issue of the Family Process.