These disclosures were considered to be an achievement, as it is well noted in the substance abuse treatment context that recovering persons sometimes have a difficult time working with staff as they see them as authority figures. The therapist involved in the canine-assisted therapy sessions had significant insights including how participants reacted to the perception of being rejected by the dogs. Therapist were able to intervene and instruct the participants who felt rejection on how to improve communications with the dog, such as not rushing the dog or expecting bonding to occur immediately. Some of the participants advised the therapists that they acted and reacted to the dogs as they would other humans. The insights gleaned could, in turn, pave the way to improved approaches to, and interactions with, humans.
The type of dog present also influenced the nature of disclosures made. For instance, when the pit bull was present, participants tended to discuss their history of violence and any exposure to animal cruelty. It is thought that the pit bull’s presence triggered these particular disclosures because pit bulls have a history of being involved in the drug use community as guard dogs and fighting dogs. As the pit bull was associated with being a victim, participants more readily discussed their history of victimhood in childhood and adulthood. This communication was significant, as there is a general consensus in the treatment community that anger, resentment, and an inability to express these emotions are key experiences underlying drug addiction.
 Ernst, L. (Oct. 2, 2014). “Animal-Assisted Therapy: An Exploration of Its History, Healing Benefits, and How Skilled Nursing Facilities Can Set Up Programs.” Annals of Long-Term Care. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
 Herzog, H. Psychology Today.
 Ernst, L. Annals of Long-Term Care.
 Miller, T. et al. “The Use of Therapy Dogs With Adult Substance Abuse Clients.” Therapy Dogs International. Accessed Dec. 7, 2015.
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