What is Animal-Assistive Therapy (AAT)?
The simple and often instant bond between a human and an animal is the cornerstone of Animal-Assisted Therapy. It is a practice that incorporates using animals as part of the therapeutic process. It is about building a bond with an animal through interaction and play. Animals are used because they can help people relax, minimise stress and offer a sense of safety. Animals can also help reach kids, youth and adults who have disengaged and don’t want to work with a therapist. AAT is a goal-directed intervention and individualised plans are created based on a person’s goals. There are a range of focus areas that can be developed with the use of AAT including, physical, social, emotional and mental health. Detailed reports are provided which can be used at annual reviews.
How does it work?
AAT is an effective intervention because the animal is used as an adjunct to therapy. The animal acts almost as a bonding agent, helping to place the participants at ease. The therapist utilises the animal as a focal point of the therapy session but the animal acts only as a tool in the therapist’s arsenal to help the participant to reach their goals.