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Kahlen Smith Op-Ed: Therapy Dogs

Kahlen+Smith+Op-Ed%3A+Therapy+Dogs

Author blurb – Kahlen Smith is a senior at Blue Mountain Union School, Kahlen is passionate about students mental health in schools and wants to help schools come up with ways to support their students. 

Benefits of Therapy Dogs

What if I told you that your child can struggle less in school merely by spending time with  a four-legged, furry friend? In fact, studies have proven that therapy dogs create positive learning environments for children who struggle with mental health issues and behavioral problems. 

According to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (2018), therapy dogs were traced as far back as the Greeks. During the 1600s, the ancient Greeks used horses to help improve the mental health of the people. In the 1960s, Dr. Boris Levinson studied the effects that his dog had on his young and impaired clients; soon after in the 1980s, the first therapy dog training organization was opened. The Delta Society was the first therapy dog certification program to ever exist.  

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Studies have shown that therapy dogs reduce children’s stress levels. A recent study was conducted where children’s stress levels were measured after twice weekly sessions where children spent time with dogs. After each session concluded, it showed that a child’s cortisol level was lowered; cortisol is a steroid that controls the response to stress within the body.  This study demonstrates the power dogs have on children’s mental health.  

In an article written by Scott Gleeson, a licensed clinical professional counselor specializing in trauma and relational dynamics. Gleeson wanted to bring more awareness to the benefits that therapy dogs have on children who are struggling mentally. Gleeson spoke to counselors about the presence their dogs had on children who had experienced trauma. The article discusses how Donna Gluck, a licensed clinical professional counselor, uses her dog, a Great Dane, to help her patients during a session. Gluck noticed that patients who suffered

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