Animals aid traumatised victims of abuse in Dubai’s women and children shelter


Staff Report

The Dubai Foundation for Women’s and Children (DFWAC), a non-profit shelter in the UAE that runs specifically for the care of women and children, has recently launched the Animal Assisted therapy programme to help victims of violence and exploitation overcome trauma.

Animal Assisted therapy incorporates animals such as horses, dogs, rabbits, fish, and birds into the psychotherapy process to improve people’s social performance psychological and adaptive functioning especially after going through strong trauma or negative experience. It is a unique approach that can replace or even complete the traditional psychotherapy sessions.

“This programme targets the clients of Dubai Foundation for Women and Children that are victims of violence, exploitation. Especially the critical cases that shows symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder or any psychiatric symptoms related to anxiety and depression,” said Sheikha Saeed Al Mansouri, DFWC Acting Director General in her speech during the programme launch at Expo 2020 Dubai in November.

“Our goal is to develop new and innovative ways to support children and women who are victims of violence, and exploitation, Improve victims adaptive and interactive abilities, help victims improve their social functioning and help them to improve their abilities to build healthy and positive relationships with others.”

The foundation’s care and rehabilitation director Ghanima Hassan Al bahri said, the animal assisted psychotherapy sessions will be done in DFWAC premises along with other activities that will be held in other facilities and institutions, including Dubai Police.

The Animal Assisted therapy programme, the first of its kind at the national level, is in line with the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and the objectives of Dubai 2021 plan which is to strengthen the emirate’s social services to create a an inclusive and cohesive society.