In 1961, Dr. Boris Levinson first introduced the idea of animal-assisted therapy, or pet therapy, when he was able to more successfully work with a particular child patient on days that his dog was also in the office. Over the years, psychologists, social workers, hospice caretakers, hospitals, and other service providers have incorporated animals like Dr. Levinson’s beloved, Jingles, into their own practices as a form of alternative treatment to help people manage certain medical conditions.

Most recently, therapy animals were in the news when some airlines started placing bans on the types of animals that would be considered acceptable on flights. This came after an incident with a peacock on one flight and several other cases of misbehaved animals in the terminal and in the air that caused issues for other travelers. Emotional support animals restricted in the ban included amphibians, arachnids, birds, and rodents.

While people have become rather creative in their definition of animal-assisted therapy, there is evidence to suggest that there are health benefits associated with having a pet with the most often cited pet being a dog. Dog owners have reported an overall happiness and generally calm nature. They have additionally noted lower rates of asthma and allergies when exposed to dogs from a young age, better recovery from conditions like heart disease, lower blood pressure, and improved self-esteem. Outside of everyday benefits, studies also show that therapy dogs may have positive effects on addiction and recovery.

One therapy dog intervention study demonstrated that the dogs helped to address trauma and facilitate healing by making individuals feel safe both physically and psychologically, a key concept in terms of addiction recovery. The study also showed that participants built trust with the dog, which eventually carried over to their relationships with other people, and began to show signs of empowerment through the support the dog gave. While it seemed like the dog just sat next to people, wagged his tail, and allowed them to pet him, he was really giving so much more. In light of the study’s success to create an accepting, positive, and encouraging space, the researchers recommend others continue to experiment with the use of therapy dogs as an alternative or supplemental treatment.


At Asana Recovery, we firmly believe in the power of alternative treatments. We also believe that there are many paths toward recovery that look different for everyone and that no movement toward progress is too small. That’s why we incorporate health and wellness activities, as well as activity-based therapies like art, into each personalized, evidence-based treatment plan.

At Asana Recovery, we can guarantee a fully comprehensive approach to your recovery. We could tell you this ourselves, but the testimonials submitted really speak to the whole story. Phrases such as “being sober is hard but they showed me how to get on the right path” and “I am leaving feeling better than I have in years” demonstrate the power of our work when you’re willing to work. Call us today at (949) 438-4504 to get started.