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Pets & Mental Health by Leslie Faulkner

by | Dec 19, 2019 | blog, Counseling, Murray, Paducah, Programs, Therapy, Western Kentucky


“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schulz

Unless, of course, you’re more of a cat person.

In my short 30 years of life, I have concluded that dog really is man’s best friend. Through personal experience, as well as my educational background in Psychology and Counseling & Human Development, I have learned that animal companionship can serve as a therapeutic outlet for anxiety, depression, and stress. Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. Not only that, but it has also been concluded that pets can help their owners regulate their blood pressure in stressful situations. The love and quality time we spend with our pets can also increase our serotonin and dopamine (AKA, our “Happy Chemicals”) levels. Studies have also shown that having a pet can lower cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and chances of a heart attack. Most pet owners, especially dog owners, are more prone to exercise due to having a furry companion by their side. All pets, big or small, serve as a great therapeutic outlet for our everyday stressors. Personally, my dogs are part of the family, as well as my personal assistant to living a happy and healthy life!

Pictured here is one of my three fur babies. Her name is Padme (yes, a Star Wars reference), and she has helped me tremendously with driving anxiety.

About the Author: Leslie Faulkner is a Licensed Professional Counseling Associate (LPCA) at Emerald Therapy Center. She received her Masters of Education in Counseling and Human Development from Lindsay Wilson College.  She is currently Director of Children’s Services. Leslie works primarily with children and adolescents, and is also a Behavioral Health Consultant for Head Start classrooms.

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