Since 2016, the kbo-Kinderzentrum München has also offered animal-assisted therapy. The special training of Leo the therapy dog was made possible thanks to the active support of many animal-loving donors who financed the training as part of a donation campaign.
What does "animal-assisted therapy" mean?
"Animal-assisted therapy" is an umbrella term for a range of therapeutic approaches with patients from childhood into late adulthood in which the animal represents an essential component of the treatment.
In addition to being used with physically and/or mentally ill children and young people, animal-assisted therapy is also used successfully with patients with dementia, in palliative medicine and in adult psychiatric clinics.
Indications for use of a therapy dog:
Therapy with dogs can be used with a wide range of disorders and has a demonstrably positive effect on the course of therapy, e.g. with children with bonding and anxiety disorders, autism or mental impairment.
- Autism spectrum disorders & mental impairment:
- improving socio-communicative and interactive skills
- improving cooperation skills
- training theory of mind abilities
- Attention disorders & socio-behavioural disorders:
- improving task focussing and concentration
- improving cooperation
- achieving better control of impulsive and hyperactive behaviour
- ending aggressive behaviour and developing alternative appropriate strategies
- Fearfulness, anxiety disorders & emotional disorders:
- reducing the general arousal level
- with dog phobia: reducing fear through exposure
- with social anxiety: reducing withdrawal behaviour, strengthening self-efficacy and assertiveness, building up socio-communicative skills
- Bonding disorders, relationship disorders & traumatisation:
- breaking down distrust and building trust
- improving capacity for relationships
- Use as an "ice-breaker" in initial contact
- Use as a "catalyst" in difficult therapeutic situations
- Use as a positive reinforcer
- Reducing negative emotions (sadness, anger/rage)
- Reducing hyperarousal & stress
- Building up nurturing behaviour and empathy
Who carries out the animal-assisted therapy?
Therapy is provided by the Psychological Head of the Clinic and owner of the dog, PD Dr. phil. Maria Licata-Dandel.
In which patient groups is animal-assisted therapy used at the kbo-Kinderzentrum?
The therapy is targeted particularly at children undergoing inpatient treatment on the Children's Ward in our clinic. The indication generally comes at the beginning of inpatient treatment. However, parents can also express the desire for an animal-assisted therapy before the start of admission as an inpatient; the indication is then also reviewed on admission.
Thanks to the "HundeHelfenHeilen-Stiftung" [Dogs Help Healing] and the "Stiftung-Schmetterlin" [Butterfly Foundation], it has been possible to further expand animal-assisted therapy at the kbo-Kinderzentrum München in 2021.
Once a week, the two therapy dogs Hope and Angel from "Petzi's Dog Training" visit the young patients in the Parent-Child Ward with motion, development and behavioural disorders, speech disorders or autism spectrum disorders.
The aim is to work in small groups, primarily to strengthen self-confidence, learn to stick to rules and improve vigilance and awareness in relation to animals.