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Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is the use of animals for therapeutic purposes. Animals are fun to be with and comforting to hold [How to reference and link to summary or text].
Delta Society defines Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) as "a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning." AAT is provided for a group or individuals. Whenever AAT is held, therapists must document records and evaluate each participant's progress . Many kinds of animals could be used such as dogs, cats, birds, horses, dolphins, rabbits, lizards, and other small animals. AAT provides physical, mental, educational, and motivational effectiveness for participants.
AAT and children
AAT with older adults
- Main article: Animal-assisted therapy with older adults
Benefits of AAT
People who have access to animals benefit in various ways, for example:
- comfort of physical contact with animals,
- reducing loneliness, and
- increased opportunities for meeting others, via their pets.
- caring for pets encourages nurturance, *caring for pets encourages responsibility and
- adherence to a daily schedule (See activity scheduling
Other benifits include:
- Improve fine motor skills
- Improve wheelchair skills
- Improve standing balance
- Increase verbal interactions between group members
- Increase attention skills (i.e., paying attention, staying on task)
- Develop leisure/recreation skills
- Increase self-esteem
- Reduce anxiety
- Reduce loneliness
- Increase vocabulary
- Aid in long- or short-term memory
- Improve knowledge of concepts such as size, color, etc.
- Improve willingness to be involved in a group activity
- Improve interactions with others
- Improve interactions with staff
Benefits in mental health
In psychosis, AAT has been found to be associated with significant improvement in the hedonic tone of people with schizophrenia, with improved motivation and interest in rewarding activities as well as better use of leisure time.
- Animal assisted interventions
- Therapy dog
- Grief therapy dog
- Geriatric psychotherapy
- Interspecies interaction
- Nathans-Barel, I., P. Feldman, B. Berger, I. Modai and H. Silver (2005). Animal-assisted therapy ameliorates anhedonia in schizophrenia patients. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 74 (1): 31-35.
Learning More, (2006). Aqua Thought Foundation. Retrieved April 9, 2006.
Oakley, Dawn., and Bardin, Gail., The Potential Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy for Children With Special Needs. Retrieved April 9, 2006.
Howie, Ann R., (2000). The Human-Animal Health Connection Pet Partners Team Training Course Manual 5th Ed. Delta Society, Renton, WA.
- Delta Sociey
- Animal Behavior Instutute [Online certificate program in Animal Assisted Therapy]
- Pet Therapy
- Animal Assisted Therapy
- Therapist Animal Assisted Therapy Foundation
- Pet therapy with a wildcat
- Interfaith Animal Chaplains
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