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Sensory Grounding Coping Strategy: (ESAs) Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs): Definitions ADA covers service animals, not emotional support animals. Use the link to FAQs for more information. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) offers this summary about their view of service, emotional support, and therapy animals. This post explains their definition of Emotional Support Animals. This article is a resource guide […]

Coping Strategy: Emotional Support Animals — Untangled Connections

Disclaimer: I am not an expert by any means. Not a therapist, medical or mental health professional. I do not diagnose, treat, or tell people what to do. The main purpose of this website and blog is education and support. If you are unsure how the suggestions and resources here may affect you, please discuss any changes to your existing treatment plan with your medical and mental health providers first.

Sensory Grounding Coping Strategy: (ESAs)

To make up for my error and not being able to keep up with the promo posts, I’m sharing some sensory grounding coping strategies revolving around my Emotional Support Cat, Gale. Read the link above to learn more about Emotional Support and other Therapy Animals.

Visual Sensory Grounding Strategies:

Gale is a beautiful cat. Feisty and curious as she gets more comfortable, so my visual focus often centers around getting to cat’s eye level and figuring out how to keep her safe. Not to mention all the fun I have watching her play and be curious

curious and adventurous – sensory grounding coping strategy cat style

Visual sensory grounding keeps me in the moment and present-focused as I try to cat-proof my apartment on a daily basis. But more than that, seeing the world through her eyes and an amazing experience.

Auditory Senses:

Without her collar and tags, Gale is a quiet cat who often sneaks up on me. Unless she decides to purr or meow or grumble or chirp, I don’t realize she’s nearby.

Once in a while, she’ll use her paws (claws optional) to make noise – usually jumping on something. That gets me out of my head and into the present (auditory sensory grounding strategy).

Olfactory Sensory Grounding Strategies:

Litter boxes. Cat breath. Cat-friendly herbs.

Aromatherapy caution since essential oils are poisonous to cats if ingested, if it gets on their bodies/in their eyes, or if inhaled too much. Cat’s don’t have all the enzymes to process essential oils, but I use them often and work with them for this business.

So I have to be extra careful to contain scents and keep a scent-free space for Gale. Beyond that, Gale loves the smell of roses and basil; it’s interesting to observe her reaction to their scents 🙂

Gustatory (Taste Sensory Grounding Strategy):

I eat meat and veggies (omnivore & flexitarian if you need labels). Gale is a carnivore who dislikes fish/seafood and loves anything with chicken in it.

Tonight is the first time she tried to eat the air-fried chicken off my plate. Then meowed, yelled at me, and refused to eat her food because it didn’t smell as good as mine – and why wasn’t I sharing my food wither her???

I have to be mindful of Gale getting into kitchen mischief with unwashed dishes, food on the counter or floor, etc. since she can get on the counters in 1 jump.

Tactile Senses:

Gale: I love the texture and warm blanket against my paws and fur

Gale’s fur is so soft, but she has strong boundaries about physical contact and being picked up. But I’ve learned that we share a love of natural fiber fabrics; cozy blankets, and texture.

She’s co-opted one of my favorite blankets and shares my seats with me. This helps me identify and block potential scratching items I want to keep safe. The downside, she play bites and swats when she wants to play.

Never breaks skin, but does hurt a little and triggers a flashback for me. So we’re getting used to each other. She’s started coming to me asking for pets and cuddles with purrs now too. And I’m learning how to feel comfortable with 10 pounds on my feet as I sleep :/

Proprioception Sensory Grounding Strategy:

Not sure if this is considered an official sense or not, but it’s part of my sensory grounding coping strategies. Only I call it situational awareness. In PTSD terms, it’s hyper vigilance.

But instead of focusing on all the noises, scents, and other stuff in my environment, I focus on Gale. She is an excellent guard cat and alerts me to noises and other things that disturb her. Having her around helps me feel safer.

If you want to learn more about Gale, check out this post here. For more info about Sensory Grounding Coping Strategy: (ESAs) and related coping topics (including the one at the top of this page) , visit Untangled Connections.

Reflection question: Do animals have an impact in your life? If yes, how so? If no, how could animals impact you?

Love and Rainbows,

TJ

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