Psychological First Aid
What is it
The Human-Animal Bond refers to the attachment bond between people and their pets and if broken, can impact significantly on psychological and physical health. The importance of pets and companion animals in people’s lives should therefore not be underestimated or de-valued. Pets and companion animals play an important role in our psychological, social and physical health and wellbeing across the age span.
What does it include
Common Effects and Symptoms
Increasing research supports the benefits of pets relevant to companionship, positive emotional well-being, reduced loneliness, increased physical activity, ownership and mastery. Other benefits may include Functional (caring for another, improved self-image, mobility), Relationship (pets give warm and non-judgmental attention, the giving and receiving of affection), Passive (animals are entertaining, enhanced relaxation and social interaction), Cognitive (stimulated self-reflection, memories, sharing anecdotes/funny stories of pets) and Spiritual (Uplift in mood, a feeling of “normality” to have animals around).
Losing a pet can be very upsetting. Whether the loss of a pet is from the sudden passing of a pet, pets going missing, facing the difficult decision of euthanasia, owners being unable to continue caring for their pet, or owners moving into residential aged care facilities or smaller dwellings, the impact of a loss of a pet or companion animal can be likened to losing a human companion or significant other, and for some people, their pets/companion animals are their family. The grief process is suggested to be similar, whereby people experience a sense of numbness, shock and disbelief, feelings of emptiness, guilt, sadness, and depression, and commonly anger. There also may be a preoccupation with thoughts and memories of their pet and difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
How can a psychologist help
What treatment is available?
If you have experienced the loss of a pet, psychological support is available to assist you through this difficult time.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy and supportive counselling with emphasis on acceptance and normalising to promote adaptive coping are evidenced based interventions that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of grief and loss. The psychological impact of pets is a rapidly developing area in Psychology and grief associated with pet loss is becoming a more common reason for referral for psychological support. Psychological support can assist people who have lost their pet to reflect on the meaning and significance their pet had in their lives, mourn for their pet and process this loss, and accept that their grief is warranted.
If you require additional information, please call our office on 07 3256 6320. Our mental health focused reception staff will be only too happy to assist you with your enquiry about our service and can suggest the most suitable Psychologist for your concern.