In Nebraska, equine therapy is becoming more understood and utilized. Equine therapy or horse therapy has been proven as an effective form of both occupational and physical therapy. It is also beneficial to victims of trauma and individuals with other behavioral health challenges such as, eating disorders or substance abuse.
However, if we lived on the coast, there would be another form of animal therapy available to us called Dolphin Assisted Therapy. It is a form of aquatic therapy that was first created to help patients with depression. The thought behind this unique form of therapy was that offering therapy in a pleasant environment alongside dolphins would help improve symptoms of depression by reducing stress and elevating mood. Encounters with dolphins often instill a deep emotional response and trigger the release of deep feelings and emotions.
It is believed that children are more responsive to Dolphin Assisted Therapy than adults. When children get to play in a pleasant environment, they are more motivated to complete the tasks, they are happy, and therefore, they pay greater attention to the therapist’s work. It has also been suggested that dolphins can sense areas of disability and physical trauma in the human body. They then motivate the clients to use these injured or weaker parts during the session.
While dolphin therapy can help alleviate symptoms associated with depression, autism, ADHD, and other neurologic disorders, it is not a cure. Nor is this type of therapy covered by insurance at this time. With more research and evidence, Dolphin Assisted Therapy may become a more widely recognized form of treatment for all ages.
Lori Atkinson, Operations Director for The Kim Foundation
Lori Atkinson joined The Kim Foundation in May 2015. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in Middle Level Education. She was an 8th grade English teacher in the Omaha Public Schools from 1992 – 2000, a stay at home mom for several years, and then started a small non-profit in her husband’s memory during 2010. Lori carries out many duties for The Kim Foundation which includes: scheduling presentations in the community, hosting booths at conferences, managing the Art & Creative Writing Contest, coordinating the School Resource Fair, organizing the Suicide Prevention PSA Contest, assisting with the annual luncheon, and participating in the coalition’s community outreach group. Lori is the proud mom of three children and is actively involved in her church.