Why work with animals?
The youth that The Peacock Foundation supports are often dealing with traumatic experiences: death, gang violence, homelessness, abuse, neglect, and low self-esteem. They are looking for people who will care for them in their most broken and tragic place. Sadly, people have often not been there for them. People have let them down. Animals, however, have not. After all, animals do not judge, hold grudges, or act maliciously, and, when properly trained, they welcome attention and affection from anyone who offers it. It is easier for many at-risk children to connect with animals than with humans.
Research has also shown that contact with animals can lower an individual’s anxiety and blood pressure levels (review the research). Animal interaction can therefore be helpful when counselors and clients explore highly sensitive and emotional experiences.
We support programs where counselors and animals work together to connect with at-risk youth. The presence of an animal in an individual or group therapy session minimizes stress and anxiety, encourages curiosity and discussion, and helps to build relationships of trust.