Paws for Thought

16th February 2023
Picture of Therapy Dog on back legs

Pet therapy at Ballymacoss Supported Living Unit in Lisburn is proving a great success with service users and staff.   Each week, two specially trained ‘Pets As Therapy’ dogs and their handlers visit the unit to provide relaxation therapy, stimulation and socialisation skills to service users.  The sessions promote the therapeutic nature of animals and the benefits that stroking a pet can have towards mental health.

The unit provides supported living to those with a mental health illness. By facilitating the ‘Pets as Therapy’ visits each week, allows the service users to bolster their motivation and build confidence, contributing towards a positive wellbeing experience.

Highlighting the benefits of the visits, Jayne Merrell, Manager of Ballymacoss Supported Living Unit added, “Spending time with animals is a really accessible way of improving your mental health.  The dogs help the service users to relax and open up which is really nice to see.”

Sue Christie from Pets as Therapy added “We really enjoy coming out with the dogs, service users really enjoy the therapy.  The visits really make a difference, staff tell us that the service users talk about it afterwards because it is so different. It is an opportunity to do something to help improve the lives and wellbeing of the service users.  It is also an opportunity for the dogs to show off some of their tricks and to get some extra treats!”