Tours hospital wants to develop dog therapy in its psychiatry department

Healing with animals… The technique has proven itself, whether in equine therapy with horses or in cynotherapy with dogs. It has now been a year since staff from the psychiatry department of the Bretonneau hospital in Tours have been experimenting with such dog therapy workshops with a handful of their patients.

The dog becomes the intermediary between them and us – Christelle Ferré, nurse

Staff who have embarked themselves twelve patients last year for 1h30 sessions with three Australian Shepherds of a specialized association. From patients with various profiles, schizophrenic, suffering from depression or social phobias, and whose condition has improved assures Christelle Ferré. She is a psychiatric nurse. “The first locks that jump are at the level of the exchange. The dog becomes the intermediary between them and us. We manage to have an exchange which becomes spontaneous during the activity, and even after the activity”.

When you face the dog, there is a kind of alchemy that is created – Céline Chalumeau, nurse

The dog also accepts the patient as he is, without judgment. The labels linked to the disease then immediately fall away. Céline Chalumeau is also a nurse in this psychiatric service. “When you are facing the dog, there is a kind of alchemy that is created. The patient is obliged to be in the present moment, to be connected to the animal, if he wants a minimum of result. These are things that are difficult for patients who suffer from psychiatric disorders because they are often ruminating. There is an obligation to concentrate, so to be in this present moment.

More open, safer patients

And it is the work of caregivers that is facilitated, enthuses Christelle Ferré. “When we have worked on certain blockages, we can propose other activities and suddenly, the patient is much more open, feels safe afterwards”.

But all this of course has a cost that could not be financed by the hospital budget. The psychiatry department has therefore decided to appeal to donations from individuals in order to be able to amplify this activity, and offer it to a wider public. This dog therapy project in psychiatry is now supported by the endowment fund of the CHRU de Toursas explained by health executive Anne-Laure Toussourière. “It gives us the opportunity to be able to think of much more innovative projects, which are also more expensive. Last year, we were still able to finance dog therapy sessions, but in fact, our budget did not allow us to open up to other sectors”.

80 patients could benefit each year

What the psychiatry department is indeed aiming for is a budget of nearly 19,000 euros over three years to be able to open this activity to 80 patients per year. And this dog therapy project in psychiatry is not the only one on which you are called upon to make a donation. The endowment fund of the CHRU de Tours offers several on its website, in particular projects in pediatrics. More than 140,000 euros are needed in total.

Leave a Comment