Interaction with animals can help people

Interaction with animals can help people with a range of physical or behavioural problems.
Samantha David finds out how it works from François Beiger, who teaches healthcare professionals its uses

As all animals lovers will tell you, there are multiple ways animals help humans. Stroking a pet has been shown to decrease stress and lower blood pressure, for example. But zootherapy goes a step further, using animals as mediators in a variety of situations to increase human well-being, and it is gaining traction in France.

The Institut Français de Zoothérapie in Velanne, in Isère, eastern France, teaches social and healthcare professionals how to use zootherapy and how to train the animals involved. Founder and director François Beiger says: “When I set up the institute in 2003, the idea was almost unheard of. People didn’t understand how it could work. They didn’t even know what it was, so you could say that I brought the idea with me from Canada.”
Zootherapy, also called animal mediation, can be used to help people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, mental disabilities, psychiatric problems, extreme stress, emotional trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and behavioural difficulties.

It can help cancer patients as young as three, and is very useful during end-of-life care. “Animal mediation can bring peace to both the dying and to their loved ones – and, sadly, ...

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