This year the UNIFONTIS team is introducing for the first time for tumour patients dolphin therapy at the Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center (CDTC). As part of a pilot project, a team from UNIFONTIS will accompany patients and their family members on a week-long therapy course to Curacao. To enable patients to focus on themselves and the therapy, as well as to benefit from the relaxing atmosphere of Curacao, the UNIFONTIS team looks after all prior organisation and support during the stay. 

The multidisciplinary team at CDTC is made up of psychologists, physiotherapists, speech and occupational therapists and dolphin trainers, all of whom work with individual patients in Curacao to develop specialised therapy programmes designed to meet individual needs. The objectives are established at the start of the therapy and are reassessed and adapted as necessary during the stay.

Dolphin Therapy And Its Successes To Date

The founder of dolphin therapy, behavioural scientist and neuropsychologist Dr David Nathanson, initially began studying the effects of dolphins on special-needs children in 1978. He discovered that dolphins helped his young patients to learn four times more quickly. Moreover, he noticed their ability to retain what they had learned was significantly enhanced. While playing with the dolphins, the children showed above average ability to concentrate and relax. The contact also boosted their immune system and improved their mental receptiveness. The dolphins clearly had a marked positive influence. Routine work with the young patients both in and beside the water also had a positive impact, but the presence of dolphins enhanced the effect considerably.

In the years that followed, many physicians, biologists, behavioural researchers and psychologists concurred with the findings and began applying the treatment to a range of other clinical conditions. Today the Curacao Dolphin Therapy & Research Center offers therapeutic treatments for autism, cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome and psychological conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. The CDTC is also supported by Dolphin Aid e.V. and together they organise an annual Charity-Gala.

Pilot Project With Tumour Patients

The aim of the project is to ascertain whether the same positive outcome can be achieved through dolphin therapy with tumour patients as has already been documented with the previously documented conditions. A diagnosis of cancer often brings with it feelings of helplessness, grief, fear and anger; such feelings usually have a greater impact on quality of life than the cancer itself. In many cases, everyday routine is accompanied by pain and physical limitations. These factors have a considerable impact on the quality of life of those affected.

Our objective is to achieve the following results:

  • use the unique effect of the dolphins and interaction with these animals to deal with the limiting aspects of the illness;
  • achieve sustainable improvement in patient condition through the individual support provided by the team and the experience with the dolphins as therapists;
  • intensify sensory perception with a view to rebuilding a positive sense of one’s own body;
  • reduce the loss of control experienced by patients and increase self-efficacy.

  • The self-confidence acquired or rediscovered as a result of close contact with these impressive creatures is designed to promote the subsequent continuation of cancer therapy and use the patient’s newfound confidence in self-efficacy to enhance its effectiveness.

If you have any questions regarding the dolphin therapy, feel free to contact us. »

Pictures Curacao