Emotional healing for children through animal-assisted therapy

Fondation Marienburg

The animal-assisted therapies of the programme Op de Patten help children overcome traumatic experiences with the help of donkeys, horses, guinea pigs, and other animal friends.


The care of animals has long been shown to have coinciding benefits on their caretakers, such as improved self-esteem and general well-being. Introduced in complement to other therapies, animal-assisted therapy can offer new methods for children suffering from trauma to explore their relationships with others, get in touch with their emotions and rediscover their sense of self.


Guided by dedicated and specially-trained psychotherapists, children take responsibility for animals and learn about the animal's particular needs and behaviors. Children gain confidence around the animals, learn to express their feelings in a secure environment, and practice showing attention and care to others through interactions with the animals.


The project Op de Patten was launched by Solidarité Jeunes asbl in 2020 with just a few guinea pigs, but has since grown to include larger animals like donkeys and horses.



The donkey, Leo, and his young caretaker enjoy a walk in the forest.


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