The Origins of Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT)

How it originated and what it is all about:

Dolphin Assisted Therapy originated in 1971 by Dr Betsy Smith (educational anthropologist) and was developed further by Dr Nathanson at the Dolphin Human Therapy centre in Florida. He studied the interaction between dolphins and children with Down´s syndrome. As he obtained good results, more centres opened world wide.

Samples of blood were analyzed before and after therapy. Results showed that after swimming with dolphins, there are a change of hormones, endorphins and enzymes, as well as T-cells. How this is possible is still being researched.

The sounds that the dolphins emit; forms part of ongoing research. Some researchers coin the term “sound therapy”, because the rhythm and vibrational sound facilitate an altered mood in humans. It can create physiological cell and tissue change in the body. The dolphins have natural sonar. They emit ultra sound waves to communicate amongst themselves. This is called “echolocation”

It is believed that the dolphin signal frequencies can have a profound effect on the human brain.

Results of EEG tests carried out on people who experienced echolocation, showed that the dominant human brain frequency drops from beta to alpha. Also both sides of the brain enter into synchronisation, which means there is far better communication between the left and right sides of the brain, associated with heightened awareness and increased learning ability.

Dolphin- Assisted therapy has been known to assist in healing individuals with different forms of mental illness, depression, autism, attention deficit disorder, chronic fatigue and many more. Their effect has also been felt on pregnant women, cancer patients, and people suffering from stress and burn survivors.

In short, there is hardly any one who has not felt the healing power of these beautiful creatures. It is impossible to be exposed to them, (or if you lucky, to swim with them) and not feel moved on some level.


DAT new in South Africa

Dolphin – Assisted therapy is new to South Africa. It is also new in Mozambique, where we will be focusing our new venture, because we are able to get up close and personal with the dolphins, although we are not allowed to touch them.

Various spiritual and esoteric programmes already exist together with dolphin swims, however, our programme with be first to host this form of therapy together with a psychologist and the swim facilitator who knows the dolphins by name and has been researching them for 10 years.

The main form of therapy will take place after the swim with the dolphins to assist the process and debrief after the moving experience. Many people cry after the swim, from sheer joy, others are elated.  We will be documenting this process, which will later possibly form part of a Doctorate thesis and hopefully a documentary.