Trust. Love. Play.
A key element of Youth Haven’s Counseling Center is our Animal-Assisted Therapy Program. Animal-Assisted Therapy is known to decrease stress levels, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. Studies have shown that Animal-Assisted Therapy also improves the child and teen’s ability to communicate and socialize; improves mood; lowers stress hormones; increases self-esteem; and enables the child & teen to work on building and developing trusting relationships.
Youth Haven began the Animal Assisted Therapy Program in 2010 with a beautiful golden retriever named Dixie. She immediately connected with our children and teens and began to develop long-lasting friendships with them.
In 2022, we launched a partnership with Golden PAWS Assistance Dogs! Founded in 2012 and located in Naples, FL, Golden PAWS Assistance Dogs is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes independence for combat wounded veterans and children with life-changing disabilities through partnerships with skilled assistance dogs.
Build Trust: Children who have been abused or neglected often find it hard to trust adults. They often feel misunderstood and keep their guard up.

Unconditional Love: Dogs show acceptance regardless of the kind of day the child had. There is no judgment. Dogs accept children immediately and show love and joy when greeting the children.

Encourage Play: Dogs are natural play therapists! They stay present in the moment, and are playful, social, honest and trusting. Play can help build healthy attachments; reduce stress; and strengthen physical, emotional, social, creative and cognitive processes in the brain.