Deep pressure Therapy: What is it and the benefits

What if you could help your child experience that calm sensation of Deep pressure Therapy on a regular basis? What might that do for their stress and anxiety levels in the moment? What might it do for how they feel overall, day-to-day?


Well, the answer is it can do a lot. Deep pressure therapy is one of our most requested tasks our clients want their Therapy dog to provide. Deep pressure Therapy is a form of tactile sensory input. This input is most often delivered through firm holding, cuddling, hugging, firm stroking, and squeezing.



Individuals with autism spectrum disorder often have sensory processing difficulties in their lives. One of the core symptoms of autism is specified to be hyper- or hypoactivity to sensory input. People with autism can also have unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment, like being indifferent to pain or oversensitivity to specific textures and smells, which causes them to be overloaded with sensory input, which in turn causes anxiety and panic attacks.


Deep pressure therapy, also referred to as DPT, can be used for many things, though the most common is grounding and helping stop anxiety, panic, to just relieve stress or something similar. Studies show that it can also help calm those with depression, self-harming behaviours, meltdowns, and it can even help regular stress. For those that deal with these situations, Deep pressure Therapy helps make attacks of any sort shorter in duration and easier to bear.


Benefits of Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT)

Not all individuals will experience every benefit, but the potential positive effects include:

- General sense of calm that can last up to a few hours after therapy

- Decreased overall anxiety when practiced regularly

- Increased communication

- Better sleep

- Improved focus

- Lowered incidence of seizures

- Lowered hypersensitivity to touch

- Improved ability to tolerate the school environment

- Decrease in self injury


What it looks like

Depending on the size of the dog and how much pressure a person wants, this can appear many different ways.


A smaller dog may jump into the individuals lap and sit or lay there. A larger dog may put their front paws on the individuals lap. Any size dog may put their chin on a body part of their handler (leg, foot, arm). Moreover, some individuals may prefer a larger dog to put all their weight on them and lay on their lap fully.


Deep pressure Therapy is generally pressure to the abdomen or chest by your dog (In self-harming behaviour, it can be pressure to the body part that is at risk.) A small or medium sized dog can lay on your chest while you lay flat on your back and a large dog can drape his or her paws across your lap and then press his head into your torso to provide the pressure or drape himself halfway across your torso if you are on your back, depending on what’s comfortable for you.


For more information or to apply for a Therapy dog, feel free to contact us at enquires@balesbuddies.org