Starting in January of 2017, Fairwinds Treatment Center has been working with TDI, Therapy Dogs International, to assist patients in anxiety reduction skills and decrease symptoms of mood instability. TDI provides trained volunteer handlers and certified therapy dogs the skills to provide comfort and companionship for patients in all types of settings.
Jessica Schott is a mental health specialist in the Army, that worked at Fairwinds Treatment Center as a mental health technician and now is a dog handler for TDI. Domina, a mixed breed canine that was rescued from a kill shelter, comes to Fairwinds two times a week, for 2 hours each day, with Jessica. Domina starts Friday evenings off reducing anxiety and symptoms of depression through a series of skills test she has learned. On Sunday, when patients see Domina for the 2nd time, patients report a greater feeling of comfort and mood stability. D.B., a 13 year old in our eating disorder program mentioned, “I find Domina helpful and therapeutic. I like to interact with the dog and look forward to seeing her. It’s really cool when she leans on you, licks our face and swipes you with her tail. She really helps me take my mind off stuff and is a good stress reliever.” C.R., a 16 year old reports, “Domina is really calming, relaxing and gets my mind free. The dog is really sweet and loving. It’s a nice companionship.”
“The Use of Therapy Dogs with Adult Substance Abuse Clients” is a study showing the benefits of utilizing therapy dogs in treatment. The study showed in preliminary reports that patients were more likely to share their background and history; gain insight into thought, emotional and behavioral patterns; identifying unhealthy coping mechanisms and educate toward new choices and behaviors. (Miller, Cross and Underwood). Z.Z., a 19 year old in our substance abuse program reports, “I love it. The intimacy and sensation of touch is very relaxing. The dog is well-groomed and she provides a feeling of warmth, nostalgia and solace.”
Led by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, the staff of psychiatrists, nurses and therapists at Fairwinds Treatment Center has over 25 years of experience employing a Dual Diagnosis approach to substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health. If you or a loved one need help, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center today.