Animal Assisted Therapy with Donkeys
"Our donkey-assisted therapy sessions are designed to help develop life skills, specifically self-esteem, empathy and managing emotions, in vulnerable children and adults, helping them develop the emotional and psychological capacity to deal with challenging and stressful situations in the real world. Sessions with the donkeys also help develop adaptive and positive behaviour and promote positive attitudinal changes towards donkeys.
When a child is able to get over their fear of interacting with an animal much bigger than themselves, this helps to build their resilience. This experience can change the neurology so that the next time they face a scary situation, they will know it’s possible to come out the other side of their fear. That confidence didn’t exist before - the experience with the donkey has rewired the brain so that they are more able to overcome their fears and approach difficult and challenging situations.
These social and intelligent sentient beings have a unique capacity to bond with each other and with humans, their heart rates even synchronizing with those with whom they come into contact. This is evidenced by our donkey-assisted therapy program for vulnerable children and adults. While our staff facilitate the program, it is the donkeys who do the work — their bond is independent, intuitive, autonomous; their connection with people both teaches us about them, and teaches us about ourselves. Children and adults in need learn from the physical and emotional experience with these exceptional creatures.
Donkey therapy is also being used to help with a range of problems- from bolstering the confidence of children with autism to try something new, or helping those who've been through trauma or illness, to helping adults deal with anxiety or emotional difficulties."
- Caron Whaley, Director of Donkey-Assisted therapy, The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon, England. www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
Forest Walks with Donkeys
"Studies have shown that screen time is associated with increased fatigue, depression, anxiety, ADHD in children, and poor concentration.Research from all over the world is showing that people who live closer to green space have fewer health complaints and live longer and that the green space itself is a stress buffer, helping people cope better with life’s adversity.
-Eva Selhub, M.D., A Doctor Explains How to Take Advantage of the Healing Powers of Nature, www.mindbodygreen.com
"Studies into the robust effects nature has on people's health- physically, mentally and emotionally have shown that time in nature — as long as people feel safe — is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments, which also help speed the rate of healing. In a recent study, psychiatric unit researchers found that being in nature reduced feelings of isolation, promoted calm, and lifted mood among patients."
-Jim Robbins, Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health, Yale Environment 360, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, www.e360.yale.edu