Alpacas as psychological help? Although animals are generally appreciated for their fur, a Bavarian clinic uses them as therapists and also as intermediaries for the reintegration of criminals with mental disorders.
The Mainkofen clinic, not far from the Austrian border, has been offering its patients the opportunity for 10 years to channel their emotions in a very particular way: with the help of camelids from a farm located near the center.
Every day, members of the program feed the ten local animals, walk with them, brush their hair, bandage the wounds and clean the stables.
“I really enjoy doing that,” says a man who uses Erwin Meier as a pseudonym.
“It’s fun to work with animals. There is something to do every day.”
His new furry friends helped him to control his anger: “Before I was angry very quickly, I was impulsive, but that got better thanks to the animals because if I get angry, they also act and if I stay calm, they stay too” .
The program is open to all patients in the hospital, but it is mainly aimed at offenders with mental disorders.
Alpacas are an escape route for those patients who, in normal times, cannot leave the clinic’s facilities.
But the rules are strict: if they are absent for a long time or outside authorized hours, they risk losing permission to live with these furry ones.
“Normally, patients at the clinic have no contact with ‘normal’ people,” says Silke Lederbogen, a pedagogue responsible for this pioneering program in Germany and owner of the alpacas.
“But as they walk alpacas around the clinic area and talk to visitors, other patients and doctors, they ask questions like ‘Do alpacas spit? Can I pet them? Where do they come from? eat?’ And they are able to respond competently, ”he says.
bur-fec-dac / ilp / lp / af