Exam de-stress: the benefits of pet therapy

Credit: Pexels

We are now in July which means exams are over but it doesn’t mean the stress is. Everyone knows how stressful this period can be for students as they wait for their results.

Fortunately, there is a new relaxation method which is sure to lift your spirits up: pet therapy.

If you’re all burned out after trying to cram an entire semester’s workload into a few days, then pet therapy might be just what the doctor ordered. Let’s have a look at this new form of treatment, what it involves and why you should absolutely try it.

What is pet therapy?

Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal; its aim is to improve the person’s mental and physical health. Cats and dogs are the most common in AAT, but other animals can be used as well depending on the individual needs (fish, horses, rabbits). It can take place individually or in groups and can involve walking, petting and caring for the animal.

What are the benefits of pet therapy?

Pet therapy builds on the pre-existing bond between humans and animals. Interacting with a furry friend is proven to help with a whole series of physical and mental issues. Its benefits are too many to list here entirely, but some of the most important include: reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health; reducing stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation; increasing self-esteem and social skills. Animal-assisted therapy also plays an important role in the treatment of serious conditions such as autism, dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Credit: Canine Concern Scotland website

Pet therapy in Scottish Universities

When it comes to bringing pet therapy to the people, Scotland has certainly been ahead of the game. A few years ago, the Canine Concern Scotland Trust organised one such event to help alleviate student stress before exams. The project, entitled Paws Against Stress, was first held at The University of Edinburgh in 2013; now, sessions are taking place in all major colleges and universities across the country during every winter and spring.

Credit: Canine Concern Scotland Trust Facebook

Alpacas at the Kelvinside Academy

However, it’s not only universities that are jumping on this bandwagon. On Monday 14 May, Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow organised a meet and greet with alpaca therapets to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. The furry friends provided a sense of calm and comfort to pupils sitting their National 5 and Advanced Higher exams. Students took a well-deserved break from studying to relax, spend time in open air, and play with the eight alpacas on the school’s grass fields.


Words by: Matei Botez


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