How Can Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Help an Individual Move Forward From Losing a Loving Pet

Owning a pet can provide many mental and physical health benefits. Pets can provide love and caring. They also encourage physical activity, which can lead to greater health. These benefits can be especially poignant for those with special needs or individuals who are living alone and need a close companion. Adults with substance use disorder (SUD) or co-occurring mental health conditions may also find benefit. Unfortunately, the other side of that is that losing a favorite pet can be traumatic for just about anyone. Many people find it difficult to move forward from losing a loving pet, especially when it served as a primary emotional support system.

12 South Recovery can teach individuals unique strategies to move forward from this type of devastating loss. More specifically, participating in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals manage their symptoms related to grief and loss. This technique helps by allowing people to focus more on the present rather than the past and examining unhealthy thinking patterns and behavior in response to loss. Losing a pet can be heartbreaking, but 12 South Recovery can provide the professional but emotional support needed to recover from that loss.

Benefits of Owning a Loving Pet

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), It has been estimated that a majority of Americans have at least one pet in their household. If an individual finds the perfect pet for them, they may find that the pet brings a variety of opportunities and benefits into their lives. An individual may begin to meet their daily exercise expectations through taking walks, bathing, or chasing their pet around the house.

When a person owns a pet, this can encourage them to get outside for fresh air and into a healthy new environment. Opportunities to socialize with others can arise from a simple walk or visit to the dog park. What’s more, pets can reduce stress and inspire positive emotions, which leads to better health. 

Further health benefits that can come from owning a loving pet may include a reduction of:

  • Anxiety
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Self-Help Strategies to Move Forward From Losing a Loving Pet

Losing a loving pet who provides so many benefits can feel defeating. One may begin to experience the many challenges felt before their emotional support animal came into their life. The grief process from losing a loving pet can become all-consuming.

Once a loved one passes, many individuals may face the five stages of grief and loss. The stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is common for individuals to experience those five stages in varying order at various times throughout the months that follow the loss.

Although life may seem difficult now, various new strategies can help a person find the independence needed to better manage their day. Taking these steps can help improve one’s mental health and help them better cope with the death of their pet. Some helpful tips may include:

  • Acknowledging grief
  • Focusing on the positive memories rather than the last days leading to the passing
  • Reaching out to support groups
  • Confiding in family and friends
  • Signing up for a gym membership
  • Doing a craft in memory of the pet
  • Participating in sober activities
  • Journaling about feelings

The Value of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy When Facing Grief and Loss After Losing a Loving Pet

According to the journal BMJ Open, the tragic passing of a loved one can lead to the development of persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD) or comorbid PTSD. For example, if a loving pet was hit by a car, this could lead to extreme mental anguish. CBT has been proven to be an effective treatment option for those who are facing problems with sudden grief and loss.

After the loss, an individual may withdraw from social and occupational activities that were once fulfilling. In such cases, CBT can help a person find healthier coping coping strategies for dealing with their grief. The technique can be used to change negative thought patterns, alter avoidance behaviors, and help individuals cope with the effects of grief and loss. Participating in CBT can help individuals get back on track to an independent lifestyle and comfortable social life without their pets.

Grief and Loss Treatment With 12 South Recovery

CBT focuses more on the present rather than the past, which makes it a perfect treatment option for those who are facing challenges moving forward from grief and loss. Choosing to partake in CBT therapy sessions as well as exploring our Grief and Loss Treatment Program can be a beneficial choice in moving forward. We understand that losing a loving pet can feel different for everyone and that treatment must be individualized.

Many individuals at 12 South Recovery find significant relief and an improved quality of life several weeks after treatment here at our facility. Progress takes time, but our compassionate specialists at our center can expedite recovery.

Reaching out for ongoing support from family and friends can also be helpful during the treatment process. Group therapy can provide a forum for receiving guidance and a safe place to confide in peers. Throughout the process, staying dedicated to treatment can ensure positive changes while coping with losing a loving pet.

Losing a loving pet can be devastating for many individuals. Grief and loss is often linked with substance use disorder (SUD) or co-occurring mental health conditions. These conditions can be challenging to manage alone. At 12 South Recovery, our team fully understands this. Our team offers empathetic and knowledgeable guidance throughout the grieving process through our Grief and Loss Treatment Program. In this program, our clients learn effective ways to navigate their emotions and bounce back from their devastating loss. We understand the feelings of anger, guilt, denial, shame, and sadness, and we help people navigate all of those stages of grief. If you or a loved one are in need of support, call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374.

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