Inmates + Pet Therapy = Healthy Relationships

pets; relationship therapyFamilies all around the world embrace animals such as cats, dogs, fish, and gerbils- just to name a few. They welcome these small or large critters into their home because they make them happy and offer companionship. They teach children responsibility and friendship. But did you know pets can also do the same for inmates?

According to a 2015 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “When pet therapy is used in prisons a symbolic relationship develops between pets and prison inmates.” (1) Through pet therapy, inmates at a correctional institution were able to develop good relationships and promote healthy development and cultivate reciprocal empathy. Pets offer people so much more than something soft and cuddly to play with. Here’s a look at what your pet is teaching you about healthy relationships without you even realizing it.

  1. Be yourself. No matter what species your pet stems from, one things for sure- it’s teaching you to be yourself. There is no need to put on a show for guests. 100 percent of the time, your pet acts exactly like himself, no matter who’s watching. You should be too! Embrace the person you are and be yourself in all your relationships.
  2. Forgive mistakes. No one forgives mistakes like pets do. They truly forgive and forget. While forgetting may be something of its own challenge, certainly focus on forgiving. Learning to forgive in the same way your pet does can help you overcome obstacles that take place in relationships.
  3. Embrace silence. Silence is not always a negative thing. Your pet understands this! Embrace silence in your life and in each of your relationships. Often times silence allows us to breathe, rest, and regroup for whatever is next.
  4. Show love. Like a dog who greets his owner with a sloppy, wet kiss so too should you show your love in relationships. Take the time to regularly demonstrate your affection for family and friends. In return, they are likely to do the same back.
  5. Be active. Most pets tend to be active in life and we should strive to be too. Take it from your pet, and get active. Weather you choose to join a team sport, attend a gym regularly, or simply take a daily walk around the block, being active can help improve not only your relationships with others but also your relationship with yourself.
  6. Let loose. Your pet certainly doesn’t allow stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions to control their relationship with you. You shouldn’t either. Don’t be afraid to let loose every now and again like your pet and enjoy socializing with others.

Because good relationships promote growth and healthy development, (2) it’s time to take a cue from your pet. Like with inmates who benefit from pet therapy, so should families of pet owners. Embrace the relationship lessons your furry (or scaly) friend is teaching you and better connect with others.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. provides counseling, psychological testing, and psychotropic medication management in Mount Prospect and Chicago – serving surrounding Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties. They accept most insurance and offer extremely affordable sliding scale rates. Call (847) 909-9858 for a free, no-obligation telephone consultation.

 

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Sources:

Pet Therapy in Correctional Institutions: A Perspective from Relational-Cultural Theory, Relationships develop, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26083555

Tom Naratadam

Tom Naratadam, Psy.D., LCPC

Dr. Tom Naratadam chicago illinoisDr. Tom Naratadam earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and both his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) and Masters Degree in School Psychology (Ed.S.) from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  He completed his Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) certification in Illinois in 2015.  His professional work experience is diverse and includes work in multiple settings including residential, inpatient, outpatient, community mental health, group private practice, and school-settings throughout the Metro Chicagoland area.

Dr. Naratadam has worked as an outpatient provider with Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C. since 2010. In addition to his work with Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D. & Associates, P.C., Dr. Naratadam works as a bilingual school psychologist at the Chicago Public Schools – performing extensive diagnostic testing and spearheading group therapy with children and adolescents.

Dr. Naratadam has expertise working in multicultural populations and has conducted numerous workshops on cross-cultural issues related to the Latino and Asian-Indian cultures. His experience also includes several years of assessing and working with children and adolescents who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Conduct and Mood Disorders, and issues related to adolescent sexuality and identity.

Dr. Naratadam is proud of his Asian-Indian heritage. He enjoys traveling, enjoying Chicago’s wide array of restaurants, and spending time with his family and friends. Dr. Naratadam is fluent in Spanish.

Mark Parisi

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D.

Mark D. Parisi, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical PsychologistDr. Mark Parisi is Licensed as a Clinical Psychologist In Illinois and Florida.

He earned his Master of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1991. Dr. Parisi went on to earn a Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology and his Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) Degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology In 1995.

He is also certified as a Professional Mediator through the Association of Conflict Resolution Institute. Dr. Parisi finished his internship and residency while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1995 – 1998 and specialized in Child and Adolescent Psychology, Community Mental Health, and Traumatic Stress Disorders.  He deployed overseas to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, in 1997 with the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army as part of Task Force 2-87.  He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for his active duty military service in 1998. Dr. Parisi has worked post-residency since 1998 and opened his practice in the Chicagoland area back in 2000.

He has served as a consultant to schools and businesses on a wide variety of mental health topics.  As a child psychologist, Dr. Parisi has worked as a child advocate, as a consultant for Head Start, and as a pediatric evaluation and treatment expert.  He has highly specialized training in disruptive behavior disorders of childhood under Drs. Russell Barkley and Robert Brooks.

At his clinic, Dr. Parisi maintains a broad-based practice serving children as young as three years old and adults well into their golden years.  He provides individual, group, family, and couples’ therapy utilizing a Cognitive-Behavioral / Solution-Focused treatment style.  In his work as an I/O Psychologist, Dr. Parisi has performed personnel selection and job analysis for both military and civilian agencies.

In addition to his work as child psychologist, Dr. Parisi has a sub-specialty in geriatrics and has worked tirelessly as a champion for mental health issues among the elderly and chronic mentally ill.  He serves as a consultant to several area nursing homes and long term care facilities and designs state-of-the-art programs tailored to the unique needs of skilled nursing facilities around Metro Chicagoland.

Dr. Parisi grew up in Park Ridge.  He is married and lives with his family in Skokie where he enjoys family time, attending movies and plays, reading, hiking, and running.  Dr. Parisi is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Skokie Valley Rotary Club.  He presently serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Service Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserves and is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

 

What is Expressive Play Therapy?

The use of expressive play therapy as a tool in helping children work through emotional issues dates all the way back to the time of Sigmund Freud in 1909 when he introduced this modality of treatment into his work with children.  Freud’s theories were later expanded upon by his students, most notably his daughter, Anna, who systematized and expanded upon the use of play therapy as a legitimate treatment modality when working with children.

The practice of expressive play therapy is focused on helping children work through emotional upset by allowing them to express themselves through play. 

There are a variety of types of expressive play therapy including dramatic and fantasy play, sandbox play, and art-focused play.  All types of expressive play therapy are premised on the idea that play is essential to the normal development of children.  Because children are often unable to communicate and talk about their feelings the same way adults do, expressive play therapy allows a natural vehicle for children to recreate, and with assistance from the child therapist, discuss feelings such as sadness, anger, and worry that might be influencing their daily lives.

As with any method of treatment focused on children, considerable effort must be devoted in the beginning stages of therapy in building rapport and trust that will enable children to express themselves through play.  Initially, the child therapist  attempts to foster rapport and trust – often referred to as a “therapeutic alliance” – by allowing the child to explore the office and select play activities that are developmentally appropriate and personally appealing.  The child therapist may choose to target certain types of play activities in order to elicit certain types of emotions or reactions.  For example, the child therapist might introduce doll house figurines and furniture in order to elicit emotions or reactions pertaining to his or her family life.

Through expressive play therapy, children gradually learn how to deal with difficulties they may be experiencing in daily life.  In so doing, they begin to develop a sense of efficacy and improved self-esteem that, ultimately, leads to improved adjustment and resolution of any problems they may have been experiencing.