The emotional intelligence is understood as the capacity that human beings have to understand, manage and manage our own emotions and identify the emotions of others. For the development of this type of intelligence, animal-assisted therapies (TAA) have a very important positive effect because they help people to communicate, express their emotions correctly and manage conflicts in a more positive way.
What emotional capacities do animal therapies develop in people?
Animal-assisted therapies help develop important skills for the development of emotional intelligence :
In dog therapies people can develop the ability to recognize their own emotions . The sessions are structured so that patients first understand how the animal expresses itself, how it behaves and recognize basic emotions in it such as joy, surprise or sadness. After understanding their emotions and generating a human-animal bond, dogs become a mirror for people in whom they are reflected.
Thanks to the participation of dogs in therapies, it is also possible to strengthen emotions linked to self-image , self- esteem and self- confidence . The activities of the TAA are based on the recognition and feedback for the correct performance of the activity; The dog receives his reward for doing his job well and people are satisfied for having guided the animal well to achieve a definite purpose in therapy. This creates a safe and comfortable environment for people to express their emotions and frustrations freely and gives them the possibility of feeling safer with themselves and feeling that they are good at something. when the dog obeys or pays attention to them.
2. Capacity for self-control
The presence of companion animals in TAA also helps people develop the ability to control their own emotions. People in therapies learn to regulate their emotional state because they understand the effects of their emotions. For example, if the person is nervous, the dog may also become nervous and fail to do the tricks or interact with other animals. Also, if the patient speaks with a strong tone of voice or is related in an inappropriate way with the animal, it may be difficult for the dog to follow the instructions of the activity or not perform it correctly.
In addition, patients attending animal therapies learn session after session that communicating assertively and adequately with the animal is much more effective than with negative emotions such as fear and aggressiveness. Again, dogs act in therapy as a mirror for people, since they understand that it is more positive to relate to the animal with respect and positive emotions , such as joy and serenity, and that this behavior has the same result in their life. everyday with the people around them.
3. Positive thinking and the ability to self-motivate
Animal therapies help people develop their ability to motivate themselves ; The dog is a born motivator. The scientific theory of biophilia , elaborated by the biologist Edward Wilson, explains the above, underlining the innate bond or affinity that human beings have with living beings and nature. This link that is generated between animals and people is very powerful, which causes our body to activate oxytocin, the hormone related to pleasure , and the endorphins that function as the neurotransmitters responsible for the feeling of well-being.
In animal therapies the connection between the animal and the person makes the patient learn to perform the activity with the Therapy dog with the illusion and optimism to achieve the success of it. Likewise, the level of commitment to activities increases in each session and the person strengthens their level of security to achieve the goal proposed by the therapist.
4. Development of positive interpersonal relationships
TAAs also help improve the ability to interact satisfactorily with others. The dog is a social catalyst that captures the interest of patients and seeks to have a greater involvement in the activities of therapy.
The presence of the dog in the therapies helps to improve non-verbal communication skills such as the development of gestures, hand signals, among others, since it is about making the dog understand our indications. It also helps to develop language skills, for example, by telling the dog what to do using simple and direct commands with the correct tone of voice and with a clear message.
Animal therapies have benefits in people not only emotionally but also physically and cognitively and that is why the Affinity Foundation has decided to promote, for more than 30 years, different therapy programs in various groups such as the following: adolescents supervised , inmates in prisons and senior citizens .