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Psychological Mechanics of Dolphin Therapy

Interaction with dolphins is also a powerful psychotherapy and psycho-intervention aid.

The main aspects that affect the patient are communication and play action. It is known that children with various psycho-neurological disorders or arrested development and children who have had other psychologically traumatic experiences typically feel alienation and isolation accompanied by phobias and difficulties in human contact. The dolphin is natural «smiling» anatomy, friendliness and interest in the child allow the child to form contact skills and promote a positive communicative model for behavior. The nonverbal nature of contact between child and dolphin eases the task of interaction for the child through a natural process. An important element in this communication is physical contact between child and dolphin. Establishing close, friendly contact with the dolphin is a pre-condition for further building of the positive and constructive relationships with surrounding people, making it possible for the child to participate in social interaction.

Contact with the dolphin is a powerful emotional factor which stimulates the child to master new movements and behavioral patterns, makes him open to experiences and reinforces a positive social adjustment to therapists. The positive emotional mood characterizing the dolphin sessions promotes enthusiastic activity and improvement of the mood and general condition of patients.

Playing with the dolphin stimulates the development of the psychomotor sphere and other cognitive processes of the child. Thanks to the dolphin, the patient has better mobile movement functions, strengthened motivation and augmented aspirations to attain positive results. That is why the child becomes quicker and more effective in accomplishing the games and tasks given by the therapist. In doctor Nathanson is opinion, the dolphin is an incentive for the child to concentrate, and thereby improves his process of memory, thought and speech.

The psychotherapist working together with the dolphin during the dolphin therapy session uses methods of behavioral therapy, elements of play, externally oriented therapy and art therapy. The therapist stimulates manifestations of adaptive behavior in the child, fixating and encouraging constructive models of behavior. Individually selected sets of corrective exercises develop the motor, sensory and cognitive spheres of the child. The exercises are presented to the child in the form of games to be played together with the dolphin, and due to natural curiosity, the child actively joins in accomplishing them. Most children with physical and intellectual problems have an affected conceptualization of body and spatial sense. The water portion of the course connects external contact with the dolphin while swimming and accomplishing certain motor tasks to bring about a more integrated awareness of his body, leading to an improved orientation in space and sensory-motor accuracy.

Positive emotions from communicating with the dolphin can stimulate the psychological, speech and physical development of the child.

As a result of the dolphin therapy course, the child expands the limits of his world, has new communicative experiences, and receives an enormous amount of positive emotions that make his life more active, creative and bright.