Dolphins and kids
Is dolphin-assisted therapy fab or just a fad?
Like all alternative healing processes you need to have realistic expectations. I have discovered this to be the key to understanding and deciding whether a dolphin assisted therapy (DAT) programme is appropriate for you.

For our daughter, Nura, the programme was an ideal opportunity to explore an alternative therapy while exposing her to a completely different environment and stimuli.

For us the family experience was also paramount. Unfortunately most people do not research the process of DAT thoroughly and find themselves disappointed when there is no miraculous healing. That said the benefits are great – even if they are not physically visible.

The dolphin therapy theory

Dolphins have a species-specific intelligence and research has shown the dolphins’ echo location (the clicks we hear) is able to penetrate the cavities of our bodies and cause change at a cellular level.

They are also able to see us with x-ray vision and able to cause shifts in brainwave patterns resulting in the opening of emotional blockages, assisting in the inhibition of pain and so on. Like humans they are tactile creatures and enjoy being touched and rubbed.

Special needs children appear to benefit especially as the dolphin has the ability to recognise the child’s deficiency. This recognition helps the child to forge a connection with the dolphin, resulting in a relaxation and openness to learning and healing that can lead to developmental progress. Advocates of dolphin therapy do not claim that it cures any disease or disability but it can enhance the success of traditional therapies.

The case against dolphin therapy

‘People suffering from chronic mental or physical disabilities should not resort to a dolphin "healing" experience’ – two scientists in the US warned in 2007.

Their reservations are based on the fact that there is no scientific evidence of long-term benefits to prove the validity of swimming with dolphins as a therapeutic process. They add that people spend thousands of dollars on DAT and thus not only lose out financially but also put themselves, and the dolphin at risk of injury or infection.

These are all fair comments as they are correct that the scientific evidence to confirm DAT as beneficial is mostly qualitative and anecdotal evidence – that pure science, even psychology does not recognise. Yes, researchers witness changes and results in those participating in DAT programmes everyday but these are all isolated cases with no definitive research, it’s all based on individual behavioral outcomes.

And what kind of healing are those in the DAT programme expecting – spiritual development, social change, personal development, a cure for a disability, emotional freedom?

So back to my initial comment – have realistic expectations of dolphin assisted therapy programmes and be sure you are doing it for the correct reasons and not trying to fix anything by using a dolphin.

Read about our little girl Nura and the dolphins.

For more information:

Turkey: (Marmaris), (Antalya)
Bahamas: (contact in the UK),
Mozambique: (Eilat)
USA: (Florida), (Florida)

Is dolphin therapy fab or a fad?

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