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Nature-inspired therapeutic approaches: Animal-Assisted Therapy

In the frame of the  InSPIRES project, we ignite stimulating dialogues among the relevant sectors and prepare a novel research agenda on green care services, therapeutic approaches which integrate the power of nature.

In Western and Northern Europe green care is an emerging sector, whereas, in Hungary, this concept is nearly unknown. Interestingly, some health and social care providers have already been offering this kind of services.

At the first stage of the research agenda-setting process, we attempted to map those Hungarian initiatives, organisations and experts who apply alternative, green care services to people who struggle with mental health challenges. We have been conducting semi-structured interviews with several knowledge holders. During this process, we found unique initiatives. In parallel, we have been organising Science Cafés in collaboration with the Care farm blog team to introduce these examples to a broader audience, to identify further relevant stakeholders and to initiate dialogue around research needs in a participatory way.

We organized our first Science Café discussion in January where more than 40 participants listened to the psychopedagogist, Noémi Pieke’s thought-provoking lecture about her connection-centred animal-assisted therapeutic method. Noémi highlighted the differences between the classic animal-assisted therapy and her approach, then described the way how she works with the establishing relationship between her clients (mostly children with Asperger’s syndrome) and her therapeutic animals.

The presentation followed by discussion. The audience was interested in the process of choosing and preparing animals for therapeutic work, the ongoing psychological dynamics during the sessions and the dog and small animal therapist training led by Noémi and her colleague Hadassa Jakabos (who was our guest at our second event in February).

Here you can watch a short video about the event:

Our Science Café series is funded by the InSPIRES project.