Animal Assisted Therapy and The Bowlby Center for Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy and The Bowlby Center for Animal Assisted Therapy

During the quarantine period the therapeutic staff continued with team professional meetings )on-line) and supervisory work. The main theme in that frames, was the creation and formulation of therapeutic strategies designed to enable patients to process their experiences and feelings they have gone through during the unconventional period of time. After two months of completely cessation of normal activity, therapeutic activity returned to the familiar framework- that is to say – to therapeutic sessions, once a week, in the zoological space.

The children returned to treatment. It should be noted there was almost no dropout. The therapists expected that in the renewed framework, the children would bring immediately to the treatment, expressions of fear and/or anxiety that they had felt recently, in relation to breaking the routine in the academic and social frameworks, to the exposure to messages and sights in the media related to the negative impact of the “Corona”, and so on. (National Association of Scholl Psychologists, 2020) Contrary to the caregivers expectations, most of the children, in the first session after returning to AAT treatment, did not refer at all to their experiences at home during quarantine, and expressed a strong desire to meet their familiar and beloved animals, pet and play with them.

The zoological space was given renewed life through the activism of the children, their voices, their curiosity, each according to his style and personality. They sought to exhaust in the “here and now”. Some of the children moved from cage to cage, from the fish aquarium to the reptile room, from the safari area to the rodent center. They were interested in the condition of all the “residents.” of the place. Their behavior was seen as conducting an “inventory count”. The children who were able to express themselves freely verbally, accompanied the encounter with the animals, with shouts of joy and even surprise. They marveled that unlike what they had been through themselves, the animals continued to maintain their lifestyle, without significant changes. Their circle of life has developed in its normalcy: the black sheep gave birth to two lambs, the snake “Rafi” had squinted again and its skin looks shiny, the beige hamster was not in his cage … he’s dead, the meerkats ran around and hide as usual…It was clear that these young patients referred to the zoological space as a source of joy and trust. Suddenly reality and the world took on the appearance of normalcy.


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Marta LejzenDr. Marta Lejzen PsyD is a Clinical Psychologist. She received her MA degree in "Universidad de Buenos Aires", Argentina, and received her PsyD Degree in the Professional School of Psychology in Sacramento, California. Her dissertation is focused on Child Play in Animal Assisted Therapy. Marta Lejzen had worked many years in the "Israeli Sheba Medical Center", as Senior Clinical Psychologist, and as a Teacher and Supervisor in the Psychiatric Unit. In recent years, Marta had held a position as head of the Animal Assisted Therapy programs in "The Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and Arts" in Israel, and has taught courses in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy at the "Hachva Teachers Seminar" (Israel) and in the Medical Track at the "Tel Aviv University"(Israel) in the Department of Psychology. Currently and during the last twenty years, Marta serves as Chief Director of the "Bowlby Center for Animal Assisted Therapy and Education", Israel. Bowlby, employs a professional treatment team, which specialize in variety of therapy methods in the field. The sessions take place in zoos, as well as in petting zoos and zoological spaces, located in different regions of Israel. The Bowlby Center also offers advanced studies for professional staff and training courses for therapists.

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