Alternative approach to support mental health centres - centre for human-animal assisted therapy: a symbiotic healing space for people and rescue dogs

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Combate, Paula Alyanna
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This Master of Interior Design practicum proposes a design for a Centre that serves to foster symbiotic healing between people and rescue dogs who suffer from mental illnesses. Situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, this Centre is designed as a healing centre where people and rescue dogs are brought together in therapy and promote a collective recovery. For people and rescue dog groups, the treatment process in overcoming trauma and battling forms of mental illnesses and behaviour issues share similar struggles. These difficulties include behaviour conditioning, social support, and severe fear of environmental trauma. Aspects associated with mental wellness—particularly intellectual, emotional, and social dimensions of health—are used as a catalyst to explore the joint activities in the rehabilitation process of each patient group. The two therapy methods of Eye Motion Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy and Behaviour Conditioning are explored to direct the study to identify stimulant factors, understand the impact of routine and familiarization, and behavioural reactions. With this, the practicum proposes a design solution that provenances the built environment and acts as a vital aid in the rehabilitation process, giving patients support that serves to help them focus on their present recovery and anchoring a patient’s stability to the process. Using the Theory of Sensory Design, focusing on acoustic control, visual hierarchy and texture integration, the Centre is designed to resonate with the methods of EMDR Therapy and behaviour conditioning, providing environmental support to desensitization and lowering impacts of trigger factors. This practicum presents how interior design strategies and solutions, focusing on user sensitivity and needs, can help strengthen the built environment’s attributes in the healing process.
animal-assisted therapy, human-animal assisted therapy, rehabilitation, interior design, human-animal intervention, psychotherapy, animal rescue centre, behaviour conditioning