Individual Therapy Using Animals
The therapeutic petting zoo has great importance for the Children’s Home from a therapeutic viewpoint, in its use for treating children’s emotional problems. It is appropriate for all ages and is open every day of the year both to children of the Children’s Home and residents of Kfar Yehezkel.
Details about activities in the social sphere –
Trustees of the Petting Zoo – This group comprises children who meet once a week for a well-structured meeting to improve both the quality of life for the animals in the zoo and the general environment. Every year the group chooses a new major project. They participate with the people carrying it out from its start until its completion. They build, repair, paint, etc. At the conclusion of the project the results are tangible and visible. This joint effort strengthens the feeling of belonging to a group working together and to the pride of belonging to the location. It strengthens both the individual children and the entire group through the experience of success.
Personal Growth – This is a project in which the child chooses an animal to which they connect up with and become responsible for its care and all its needs to grow.
The children participating in the project visit the zoo two or three times a week. Under guidance from the staff they take care of the animal they are responsible for, including physical needs, warm feelings, touch, and attention. This activity enables them to draw a parallel between the needs of the animal and the needs of children, many of which they failed to receive. This engagement with the animal enables them to develop a better understanding about their own internal world. This interaction gives them the opportunity to relate to the problems in a pleasant manner, and not have to face realizations that might be threatening to children.
Lights Out with Animals (project name) – This activity enables the children, once a week, to take an animal to their dorm at bedtime and keep it with them during the night. It is aimed at children with difficulties falling asleep, or those who wake up during the night and need additional touch and warmth. The experience of the animal nearby reduces the apprehension of loneliness, and has a soothing effect. This is a much more subtle and less threatening way to comfort older children when compared to group therapy with peers.
Mitzvah year project – As part of the activities during the mitzva year (prior to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah) they contribute to the community by carrying out volunteer activities in the therapeutic petting zoo. This activity builds experience in giving of themselves to others and acts as a source of comfort and warmth for them, too.