Indraloka partners with a number of child psychologists and emotional care organizations. We offer the opportunity for therapists to bring their clients to the sanctuary, spending time with the animals as part of their healing journey. Therapists have often told us that children open up better and are able to begin healing more readily when they are around rescued animals, with whom they often identify.
Possibly one of the most studied of our four focus areas is how animals can help children with psychological conditions. The National Institute of Mental Health even recognizes animal-assisted therapy as a form of psychotherapy for treating depression and other mental disabilities. The benefits of animal interaction are endless, and many studies have shown that simply petting an animal releases endorphins, or ‘feel-good’ hormones, that can help patients dealing with anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Caring for animals also takes the focus away from the individual and redirects the attention to the needs of the animal in care, and by gaining that responsibility, the individual finds purpose.
A more hidden, but just as dangerous concern is children who are facing abuse and neglect. According to Safe Horizon, 3.6 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the United States, meaning that on average, a case of child abuse is reported every 10 seconds. Children who are victims of abuse suffer severe and long-lasting mental and physical health impacts and are more likely to face problems such as drug use, teen pregnancy, and incarceration.
An important aspect of home-based child abuse and neglect is that victims feel safer outside their homes than they do in them. Through opening our doors to children and their therapists, Indraloka will become a haven for these children, and a refuge for them to gain strength and skills. Many of these children will face the hardships of disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and the benefits of humane education and animal care and interaction will provide them with a form of psychotherapy. Learning the stories of the animals will teach them resilience, as most of the animals have experienced severe neglect and abuse as well, yet have overcome their pain and learned to love, trust, and live joyfully. Working with animals will provide youth the unconditional love that many of them have never experienced in their entire lives, and helping to care for the animals will give them a sense of purpose that they may not have had before. It will also teach them about forgiveness. If the animals can forgive humans and be loving, caring, and compassionate beings after such abuse, so can the children.