Our Therapy Explained …
What is Dolphin Assisted Therapy Exactly?
CDTC offers an individualized two-week therapy program where personal interaction with dolphins sits at the core of the treatment. The patient is given the opportunity to interact with these highly trained dolphins while integrating customized therapy programs with specialists that are all leaders in their field. The program is designed for the treatment of patients, from 3 years and older, with wide range of special needs including Autism, ADHD and Cerebral Palsy, as well as people with physical and psychological conditions like Cancer, Depression and PTSD.
The dolphin therapy program is intended to work as a supplemental program alongside the patient’s traditional therapy received regularly at home. We recognize the crucial role that their families play in the process of rehabilitation. All become closely involved in the education and activities of the program and can observe their loved one's transformation right before their eyes. The program is provided in four languages: English, Dutch, German and Spanish.
Dolphins play a central role in the operant conditioning of the program. This means that the interaction with the dolphin is also recognized as reward. Simply put: patients and their families are having fun without realizing how much work they have done!
For example, when a therapist asks a patient with motor difficulties to lift his/her arm. As soon as the task is completed, the dolphin reacts, and serves to motivate the person to repeat the exercise. That way the individual quickly and easily gains control of a new situation and builds self-confidence.
Dolphins are highly-intelligent and very social creatures. Research has shown that interaction with dolphins can increase a patient’s attention span up to four times. Also, dolphins by nature are very intuitive animals, and have a unique ability to bond with people and set them at ease. They are not able to talk and use nonverbal communication that creates and even closer bond between people with special needs and the dolphin. The dolphins hold no preconceptions, and unconditionally accept people with special needs.
Some patients see a parallel with the dolphin who also don’t speak or walk. “The dolphin is just like me!” The dolphin is a trustworthy therapy partner and awakens the patient’s drive to work harder. Yet they immediately recognize that the dolphin is also an impressive beautiful creature. This serves as inspiration and builds their self-esteem.
You’ve finally arrived after great excitement and anticipation and are ready to start your personalized therapy program for the next 2 weeks. There will be two blocks of five days, with one therapy session per day. And we strongly recommend after an intense week of therapy you can relax and unwind during the weekend to gain energy for the next challenge week of intense therapy.
Each patient, (and their family), will be assigned to a personal therapy team for the duration of the program. Each team will consist of a therapist, therapist assistant, dolphin and dolphin trainer. On the first day, the therapist and assistant will welcome you and your family and care team. Prior to your arrival, a complete anamnesis of your medical history and all information from doctors and therapists at home, is thoughtfully reviewed by our team of therapists. The first talk contains one of the most important aspects of the program; “goals setting”. Although the goals have already been appointed in the anamneses form the therapist will go over the set goals, evaluates them and introduces the therapy plan to the patients and the family.
And then you and your team are ready to start… time to work and meet the dolphins!
Each session has a total duration of two hours, divided into four parts:
- Half hour of conventional therapy in a private therapy room.
During the conventional therapy the patient participates in exercises designed to work towards the pre-determined goals. After the first half hour session the patients will be assisted in getting into a wetsuit, followed by a short walk to the dock.
- One hour of therapy assisted by the dolphin on the platform and in the water.
On the dock and in the water, the dolphin and the dolphin trainer join the impressive team of now five professionals for working with one patient. Patients are introduced to the dolphin and begin to interact with the dolphin while participating in specific exercises that are gradually extended and intensified through a functional continuation in the water and on the dock. All this happens with the main focus being on the patient’s interaction with the dolphin.
Parents and caretakers are able to watch this part of the therapy session from a distance on a specially designed terrace overlooking the lagoons.
- Half hour training implementation of daily living skills.
During the final half hour of therapy, the patient works on developing daily living skills such as taking a shower, getting dressed and returning to his/her family.
- Session evaluation
After each session the therapist gets together with the family, caretakers and patient for a session evaluation. The outcome, therapy approach and level of progress is closely monitored, evaluated and adapted to guarantee optimal results for each individual patient.
With many years of experience our success rate is high. Our patients consistently show significant progress in:
- fine and gross motor skills
- speech and language
- cognitive development
- social and functional life skills
- psychologically well-being
All together enhancing the physical development, communication and self-confidence of the patient while stimulating a greater feeling of relaxation and psychologically wellbeing. Without a doubt this personal transformation has a tremendous positive effect on the quality of life for both the patient and his/her family. It gives the patient the opportunity to build on a life for themselves.
Learn about our program
Application in Steps
List of diagnoses
Because of our wealth of expertise in so many facets of dolphin therapy, the CDTC offers therapy for an extensive list of special needs and psychological conditions.
We have listed some of the areas in which we can help ..
HOW TO APPLY
After having discussed the program with your regular doctor or therapist, and received his/her approval, you can easily apply for the dolphin assisted therapy program at CDTC. There are several steps in the application process. We will analyse the patient's unique condition and help you make decisions.
Over the years several foundations have been established to provide financial support to patients and their families who wish to participate in the Dolphin Assisted Therapy Program in Curaçao.
On this page you will learn about the different foundations that are active in various regions in The Netherlands, Germany & the USA.