As a counselor, I am most passionate about Nature and Animal Based modalities. These are modes of treatment that are growing in popularity as the more and more research supports its use both as a stand-alone treatment and as an adjunct to traditional therapy. Nature exposure has been shown to positively impact an individual's mental and physical health, including reducing stress and anxiety (Bakolis et al, 2018; Berto, 2014; Frumpkin et al, 2017; Repke et al, 2018).
Working with animals in a therapeutic setting has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental and physical health, including a reduction of heart rate and blood pressure, as well as improvement in symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and PTSD (Balluerka et al, 2015; Bachi, Terkel, Teichman, 2011; Stefanini et al, 2019; Wells, 2009; Zilcha-Mano, Mikulincer, & Shaver, 2011).
During my time at Wake Forest, we were required to write a literature review on a topic of our choosing. I wrote about the use of animal assisted therapy in the treatment of PTSD. I have posted it here for more information if you are interested.
Bakolis, I., Hammoud, R., Smythe, M., Gibbons, J., Davidson, N., Tognin, S., & Mechelli, A. (2018). Urban mind: Using smartphone technologies to investigate the impact of nature on mental well-being in real time. BioScience, 68(2), 134. https://doi-org.db02.linccweb.org/10.1093/biosci/bix149
Balluerka, N., Muela, A., Amiano, N., & Caldentey, M. (2015). Promoting psychosocial adaptation of youths in residential care through animal-assisted psychotherapy. Child Abuse & Neglect, 50, 193-205. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.09.004
Bachi, K., Terkel, J., & Teichman, M. (2011). Equine-facilitated psychotherapy for at-risk adolescents: The influence on self-image, self-control, and trust. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 17(2), 298-312. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1359104511404177
Berto, R. (2014). The role of nature in coping with psycho-physiological stress: A literature review on restorativeness. Behavioral Sciences 4(4), 394–409
Frumkin, H., Bratman, G. N., Breslow, S. J., Cochran, B., Kahn Jr, P. H., Lawler, J. J., … Wood, S. A. (2017). Nature contact and human health: A research agenda. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(7), 1–18. https://doi-org.db02.linccweb.org/10.1289/EHP1663
Myers, J., Sweeney, T., & Witmer, J.M. (2000). The wheel of wellness counseling for wellness: A holistic model for treatment planning. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78(3), 251-266. Retrieved from https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/J_Myers_Wheel_2000.pdf)
Repke, M., Berry, M., Conway, L. III, Metcalf, A., Hensen, R., & Phelan, C. (2018). How does nature exposure make people healthier?: Evidence for the role of impulsivity and expanded space perception. PLoS ONE 13(8):e0202246. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202246
Stefanini, M., Marino, A., Bacci, B., & Tani, F. (2016). The effect of animal-assisted therapy on emotional and behavioral symptoms in children and adolescents hospitalized for acute mental disorders. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 8(2), 81-88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eujim.2016.03.001
Wells, D. (2009). The effects of animals on human health and well-being. Journal of Social Sciences, 65(3), 523-543.
Zilcha-Mano, S., Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2011) Pet in the therapy room: An attachment perspective on animal-assisted therapy. Attachment & Human Development, 13(6), 541-561, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2011.608987
I believe in treating the whole client and research indicates holistic approaches have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The "Wheel of Wellness" is one such approach to counseling. Wellness can be defined as "a way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live more fully within the human and natural community" (Myers, Sweeny, & Witmer, 2000). According to this approach, there are several wellness areas and there is evidence to support that one area of wellness affects the other areas, in both positive and negative ways. The areas of wellness include the following: