For the 80% of individuals suffering from depression who do not seek out professional help, a new form of therapy has arrived — and it has four furry legs.
Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas is a faith-based non-profit organization aimed at using these unconventional therapy animals to aid in the healing of depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness.
According to their website, they “strive to share the love of God through animal-assisted therapy and camelid education among all ages”
And it works.
The patients who have been working with the llamas have been reaping the benefits. They have helped mute patients speak, motivated a patient recovering from a stroke to reach harder, lifted the spirits of those who are depressed, and calm children with autism.
Mountain Peaks has traveled to more than 1,000 rehab facilities, hospitals, assisted living facilities, adult and child day care centers, and hospice centers in their eight-year tenure.
The mother and daughter duo continue to do so after seeing how beneficial their llamas are to those suffering.
These animals offer friendship and a warm touch, alleviate loneliness, and reduce stress. Experts believe this is because humans find unusual animals, like alpacas and llamas, surprising and humorous.
This is because when we laugh or smile, we release endorphins and do not feel pain or suffering.
The owners at Mountain Peaks encourage patients to ask questions and to talk to the animals. This offers a bridge of communication for those who are drawn into themselves to act social around others.
Additionally, strong sociability has been proven to be associated with feelings of happiness, enlightenment, and being content.
Stroking an animal also makes the patient feel as if they are caring for it and releases oxytocin in their bodies. Medical reports prove a higher level of oxytocin leads to a reduced sense of fear.