Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pet Therapy?

Last week a client from out-of-state came to a session very depressed. When he sat down I asked what was going on because he was near tears. I feared something had happened with his family.

“I miss my dog and cat,” he said hesitantly, after a few minutes.

Hopefully, I didn’t react.  But nontheless I was a bit surprised. After all, this client normally projected an aura of emotional detachment, like he was pretty much unaffected by anything.

Then later in the week I left my office and encountered another client shedding tears on the sidewalk. When I asked what was going on, he told me he missed his dog. Since he lived in Arizona I suggested that maybe he could arrange a visit.

While I’ve been working with addicts for over twenty years - and have a friend who runs a program that takes animals into hospitals - I never a thought about animals in the context of therapy with addicts and alcoholics.

However, the way our history goes once something becomes a topic of interest around here it isn’t long before we somehow try to incorporate pet therapy into the program.

The real question with whatever we initiate is always: will it enhance recovery?

In this case I think we know the answer.