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Old 01-14-2021, 12:07 PM
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Parrots for therapy

Hi! Iíve always loved parrots from a very young age. They are such interesting and amazing animals. Iíve owned three, but do not own any right now do to some issues. I am finally in a stable enough situation to adopt and provide for a parrot. I was wondering, have parrots been used as therapy animals? I find that animals help to distract from mental problems. I just didnít know if anyone had heard of or had a therapy parrot?
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Old 01-14-2021, 12:17 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Please check this long running and insightful thread discussing parrots and mental health! Mental illness and owning parrots
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Old 01-14-2021, 12:25 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Sadly, the gross over-use of Therapy Animals has resulted in an extensive cut back in what animals are allowed /accepted as Therapy Animals, especially by Airlines, public and private buildings, etc...

As far as home use, yes, Parrots can fill the role of a Therapy Animal. The only concern is that Parrots are needy, one is required to multiple times during the day to interact with them and care for them: Interaction, Feeding, Cleaning-up, etc... So, if that is what you are looking for, they can meet that needed. If the need is more along the emotional side, a dog maybe a better choice.
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Old 01-14-2021, 04:12 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Although I cannot imagine life without mine, I think a parrot is the least relaxing pet you can have...unless people find life with a perpetual flying toddler with a vice-grips therapeutic ha. They are super demanding and they are amazing, smart and emotionally intelligent, but they are stressful for a number of reasons. I'm not saying anything is wrong with owning a parrot if someone has a mental disorder, BUT it's not nearly as relaxing and care-free as owning a dog or cat could be because it requires so much more thought/effort. Sure, there are zen moments and good times, but it takes SO MUCH work and time and thinking...which can be overwhelming if someone is already struggling mentally.

Reasons I wouldn't consider them good therapy animals for most people:
-some live forever and re-homing is really hard on them, so it can be really complicated if things change or someone changes their mind or gets hospitalized and then they are trying to figure out what to do with this super social and emotional creature that ends up having to shoulder the consequence if it doesn't work out.
-If physical affection is important in a therapy animal, then that could be problematic, as people shouldn't cuddle birds or touch them anywhere but the head and neck (even if they let you) because it's very sexual for sexually mature birds.
-They can be extremely loud and that can drive people to the edge when it goes on long enough...They sometimes are seen as moody or erratic because they are very sensitive to change in a home.. and they aren't guaranteed to like a person just because that person cares for them...hardly therapeutic if someone's bird decides it's obsessed with that person's significant other and not the therapy patient themself.
-They require a TON of lifestyle changes, which make shopping difficult because you have to make sure nothing you purchase contains certain chemicals that can be inhaled)..so then you have to make phone calls to the company etc etc.
-They hide illness and can be seriously harmed by breathing the air in homes using teflon/ptfe/pfoa,pfcs (even on a different floor)...Candles, standard cleaners, paints, fumes, oil warmers etc are also very dangerous for them. Getting rid of those things can be very hard on someone who uses them for relaxation or has a certain cooking/cleaning routine.
-They are VERY messy, and so if getting motivated to clean each day is a struggle, that is far from therapeutic...I know that many people with depression, anxiety, bipolar etc go through ups and downs and that can't stand in the way of all of the work they require.
-They also are excellent readers of emotion, so if someone is super stressed, they pick up on that...if they are super down, they pick up on that, angry etc --they pick up on it all and often alter their behavior because of it (not always in a friendly or consoling way lol).
-Compared to other pets, parrots require a level of hyper-vigilance that certainly doesn't help anxiety AT ALL...because tiny little things can be a sign that something is wrong, and so any odd behavior or changes in poop, posture etc needs to be taken seriously...Which sucks, because you always have to pay attention to every little thing...and build your schedule/life around them, which can really feel restrictive at times.

Not telling people with mental disorders not to get one, just saying that therapeutic is not the adjective I would use to describe them--more like moments of therapeutic mixed in with a lot of stress and hard work. There are a surplus in shelters because they can drive people crazy if their needs aren't being met.

Last edited by noodles123; 01-14-2021 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:24 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

if you mean taking a parrot to visit people and act like a therapy dog to cheer them up. Most parrots don't want to be touched or held by strangers. Parrots also have a phobia about new stuff. There are always individuals in tge parrot world who might do well. If it was to just bring parrot and have other look but nit touch that might work better. People are fascinated with beautiful parrots.
Interesting idea
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:46 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Quote: Originally Posted by Laurasea View Post
if you mean taking a parrot to visit people and act like a therapy dog to cheer them up. Most parrots don't want to be touched or held by strangers. Parrots also have a phobia about new stuff. There are always individuals in tge parrot world who might do well. If it was to just bring parrot and have other look but nit touch that might work better. People are fascinated with beautiful parrots.
Interesting idea
Oh- I FULLY believe in parrots as visiting therapy animals (ONLY if they are comfortable with it)--In my post, I was talking about the people who have registered therapy animals for their own mental health conditions. Traditionally, therapy animals love their "owner" and accept new people--- parrots are not always that way....They are LOUD, messy, destructive and require extreme sensitivity to change and environmental products.

Now, when it comes to bringing a parrot to a hospital or school etc (so long as the air isn't filled with bleach or teflon ) then that CAN work really well, with the right parrot/owner (but there are great owners with great birds that would HATE that experience...soo...it's inconsistent-- never assume your bird will like you, or anyone lol).

I have had SO many students meet Noodles--- but small doses are honestly probably better-- you don't have to see/feel the insanity that some birds can be lol. When I am around, I am like Noodles' translator to others-- I say, "oh, she really likes you" (and then take their hand in mine (cupping mine over theirs) so that if she does bite, she bites me...Sometimes I say "Oh, she just gets nervous but you can talk to her!" (AKA --you will be bitten if you try . Even with kids she loves, It is ALWAYS hand-over-hand (and so they get all of the benefit of her jokes and cuteness without any of the crazy hassle/stress load/ hospital bills lol).

They FASCINATE kids and adults and if they are with "their" person, they often put on a show and act nicer than they would if some other person came around them alone..The "show" is such a small part of living with them 24/7, and to get your parrot social (and Noodles is very social), they have to be cool with you first AND have an outgoing personality on top of that...So, in the event that you have a parrot who is interested in other people, a strong trust in a bird's person will make the bird feel a bit safer around unfamiliar people. I think that as visiting therapy animals (as long as the environment is safe for them to breathe), some parrots can be PHENOMENAL for visiting therapy-- but, living with them is a whole other ballgame. If someone is struggling to meet his/her own needs or missing work due to mental illness, I would avoid parrots-----They need too much, too often, too long and they are expensive as heck.

Last edited by noodles123; 01-14-2021 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:01 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Thank you everyone for responding. Itís a lot to think about.
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:30 AM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Quote: Originally Posted by MelloYello View Post
....I was wondering, have parrots been used as therapy animals? I find that animals help to distract from mental problems....

Hey MelloYello....That's a very open question as you can see by the varied responses. If you had a positive past personal experience that parrots are 'therapeutic' and the efforts involved in caring for one 'distracts from personal mental problems' then why not explore the best fit for you?
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Old 01-16-2021, 07:25 AM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Hi hun I suppose the term 'therapy' has many meanings.

To bring a bird into a home to be 'therapy' for the person living there has concerns for me. The person needs to be able to look after a complex being as well as themselves which can be Ok in up times, not so on the down and I'd worry about neglect. I find that some days I can be anxious that all three are OK, checking that there isn't something I should be doing for them.Could this make some people worse to have the additional responsibilty and stress I don't know?
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Old 01-16-2021, 12:27 PM
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Re: Parrots for therapy

Quote: Originally Posted by MelloYello View Post
Hi! Iíve always loved parrots from a very young age. They are such interesting and amazing animals. Iíve owned three, but do not own any right now do to some issues. I am finally in a stable enough situation to adopt and provide for a parrot. I was wondering, have parrots been used as therapy animals? I find that animals help to distract from mental problems. I just didnít know if anyone had heard of or had a therapy parrot?
Thank you
Quote: Originally Posted by MelloYello View Post
Thank you everyone for responding. Itís a lot to think about.
Having deep attachment to parrots from young age places you in a special category. Unlike randomly choosing a bird and hoping for good results!

If you were a responsible parront in the past and are able to do so now, well worth considering. The linked Mental Health thread has wonderful testimony to the therapeutic bond between parrot and person.
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