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Pets may be the best therapists

People have likely been aware of the calming effects of animals for centuries, but it was only in the 1950s that a psychologist further investigated the power that dogs can have over people with mental, emotional or behavioral conditions, The Huffington Post reports.

Boris Levinson is credited as one of the first psychologists who recognized the positive effect dogs can have on psychotherapy patients. In the 1950s, he noticed the unique way that his dog was able to engage an autistic child he was seeing. He created Animal-Assisted Therapy, a field that has since been expanded upon by other psychologists and researchers, the news source reports.

The Delta Society became the most recognized name in the field since the 1970s, using dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and a number of other animals in their therapies. The organization's research has showed that animals help patients lower their blood pressure and feel more calm, as well as help them become more verbal and extroverted.

Dr. Aubrey H. Fine, a psychotherapist and professor in California, has seen these results first hand, The New York Times reports.

"Children are more likely to reveal inner thoughts to the therapist because the animal is right next to them and helps them express themselves," he told the publication.  
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