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Animal-assisted Therapy: What It Is, Who Can It Help, And How It Works

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Do you enjoy the company of animals? If so, you may want to consider animal-assisted therapy. Animal-assisted therapy is a form of treatment that uses animals as part of a therapeutic process. It can be used to help people with a variety of issues. Such as mental health disorders, physical disabilities, and social isolation. In this blog post, we will discuss what animal-assisted therapy is, who can benefit from it, and how it works. We will also provide resources for those who are interested in pursuing training in this field!

Understanding Animal-assisted Therapy

animal-assisted therapy

Animal-assisted therapy is a type of therapy that uses animals to help people with physical, mental, or emotional issues. The therapist may use the animal to provide comfort, support, and companionship. They may also use the animal to help teach new skills or behavior. This therapy is beneficial for a variety of issues ranging from mental to emotional issues.

Theory Behind Animal-assisted Therapy

The theory behind animal-assisted therapy is that the human-animal bond can help people to heal. The bond between humans and animals can provide emotional support and comfort.

It can also help people to learn new skills or behavior. Moreover, this therapy has its roots in the field of psychology. The first recorded use of animal-assisted therapy was in the early 1900s.

Types of Animal-assisted Therapy

There are many different types of animal-assisted therapy. However, here are some of the most common:

Aquatic therapy: This type of therapy uses water to help people with physical or mental issues. The therapist may use a pool, lake, or ocean. Moreover, aquatic therapy helps people with a variety of issues, including physical disabilities, chronic pain, and anxiety disorders.

Canine-assisted therapy: This type of therapy uses dogs to help people with physical, mental, or emotional issues. Moreover, canine-assisted therapy helps people with a variety of issues, including autism spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Equine-assisted therapy: This type of therapy uses horses to help people with physical, mental, or emotional issues. Moreover, equine-assisted therapy helps people with a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.

Feline-assisted therapy: This type of therapy uses cats to help people with physical or emotional issues. Moreover, feline-assisted therapy helps people with a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dolphin-assisted therapy: This type of therapy uses dolphins to help people with physical, mental, or emotional issues. Moreover, dolphin-assisted therapy helps people with a variety of issues, including autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.

History and Development of Animal-assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy has a long history. It was first used in the early 1900s to help people with mental health issues. The use of this therapy then expanded to include people with physical disabilities.

  • In the 1970s, it began to be used with children.
  • In the 1980s, it began to be used with older adults.
  • Today, we use this therapy with people of all ages and with a variety of issues.

Unfolding Animal-assisted Therapy

AAT

Animal-assisted therapy is a type of therapy that uses animals to help people with physical, mental, or emotional issues. The therapist may use the animal to provide comfort, support, and companionship. They may also use the animal to help teach new skills or behavior.

Who Can It Help

  • Mental health disorders: This therapy is beneficial for people with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Physical disabilities: This therapy can help people with physical disabilities increase their mobility and independence.
  • Social isolation: This therapy can help socially isolated people find companionship and connection.

What To Expect

Animal-assisted therapy sessions typically last 30-60 minutes. The number of sessions will depend on the individual’s needs. Some people may only need a few sessions, while others may need ongoing treatment.

During each session, the therapist will work with the animal to create a therapeutic environment. This may include working on building rapport, setting boundaries, and using cues. The therapist will also evaluate the progress made during each session.

What You Need To Keep In Mind

If you are interested in pursuing this therapy, there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance:

  • First, it is important to find a therapist who has been trained in this type of treatment.
  • Second, you should expect to have a few sessions before you see any results.
  • Finally, you should be prepared to commit to the treatment plan.

How Does It Work

Animal-assisted therapy is typically provided by a therapist who has been trained in this type of treatment. The therapist will work with the animal to create a therapeutic environment that is safe and supportive. They may use a variety of techniques, including:

Techniques Used In Animal-Assisted Therapy

  • Building rapport: The therapist will work to build a rapport with the animal. This includes getting to know the animal’s personality and behavior.
  • Creating boundaries: The therapist will create boundaries for the animal. This helps to ensure that the animal does not become overwhelmed or stressed during the session.
  • Using cues: The therapist will use cues to help the animal understand what is expected of them. For example, the therapist may use a cue to help the animal stay calm during a stressful situation.
  • Evaluating Progress: The therapist will evaluate the progress made during each session. This helps to ensure that the animal is making progress and that the therapy is effective.

Evaluating Animal-assisted Therapy

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Research on animal-assisted therapy is ongoing. However, studies have shown that this type of therapy can be beneficial for a range of issues.

Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy

There are several benefits of animal-assisted therapy. However, some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced anxiety: Animal-assisted therapy reduces anxiety in people with mental health disorders.
  • Improved mood: Animal-assisted therapy improves mood in people with mood disorders.
  • Increased mobility: Animal-assisted therapy increases mobility in people with physical disabilities.
  • Improved social skills: Animal-assisted therapy improves social skills in people with social isolation.

Common Concerns And Limitations

There are a few concerns and limitations associated with animal-assisted therapy. However, some of these include:

  • Allergies: Some people may be allergic to the animal.
  • Infectious diseases: There is a risk of contracting an infectious disease from the animal.
  • Bites and scratches: There is a risk of being bitten or scratched by the animal.

Why Consider It

Animal-assisted therapy is a promising treatment for people with mental health disorders, physical disabilities, and social isolation. This type of therapy provides several benefits, including reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased mobility, and improved social skills.

Finding an Animal-assisted Therapist

animal-assisted therapist

If you have an interest in pursuing animal-assisted therapy, there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance:

How To Find An Animal-Assisted Therapist

There are a few ways to find an animal-assisted therapist. For instance:

  • You can ask your doctor for a referral.
  • You can also search online for therapists in your area.

What To Look Out For

When you are searching for an animal-assisted therapist, there are a few things to look out for. For instance:

  • First, it is important to find a therapist who has training in this type of treatment.
  • Second, you should expect to have a few sessions before you see any results.
  • Finally, make sure that you are comfortable with the animal that your therapist will use in therapy.

Red Flags Not To Avoid

There are a few red flags to avoid when you are searching for an animal-assisted therapist. For instance:

  • First, avoid therapists who do not have training in this type of therapy.
  • Second, avoid therapists who are not a good fit for you and your needs.
  • Finally, avoid therapists who you are not comfortable with the animal that they use in therapy.

Pursuing Training In Animal-assisted Therapy

If you have an interest in pursuing training in animal-assisted therapy, there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance:

  • First, it is important to find a program that has accreditation from the American Humane Association.
  • Second, you should expect to complete a practicum or internship as part of your training.
  • Finally, you should prepare yourself to qualify for the National Certification Examination for Animal-Assisted Therapists.

Hearing From Experts

“Animal-assisted therapy is a wonderful way to help people with a variety of issues. I have seen firsthand how it can help people with mental health disorders, physical disabilities, and social isolation.” -Dr. Sarah Riedel, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

“Animal-assisted therapy is a great way to help people in need. I have seen it help people with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, it is also a great way to help people with physical disabilities.” -Dr. Jessica Tyler, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Case Study

animal-assisted therapy

Mary is a 38-year-old woman who has been struggling with anxiety and depression for the past year. She has tried medication and therapy. But nothing has helped. Mary’s doctor suggested that she try animal-assisted therapy.

Mary began attending weekly sessions with her therapist and their dog, Bella. Bella is a golden retriever who has been trained to provide therapeutic support. Subsequently, Mary and Bella quickly developed a bond.

Through their sessions, Mary learned how to manage her anxiety and depression. Today, Mary is doing well. However, she continues to see her therapist and brings Bella with her to all of her appointments.

Resources

If you have an interest in learning more about animal-assisted therapy, there are a few resources that you may find helpful. For instance:

  • The American Humane Association: The American Humane Association is the leading organization for animal-assisted therapy programs. They offer information on accreditation, training, and certification.
  • The National Certification Examination for Animal-assisted Therapists: The National Certification Examination for Animal-assisted Therapists is the only nationally-recognized examination for this field.
  • The Association of Pet Dog Trainers: The Association of Pet Dog Trainers offers information on finding a trainer, as well as resources on dog behavior and training.

Conclusion

Animal-assisted therapy is a promising treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Moreover, if you have an interest in pursuing this type of therapy; it is important to find a competent therapist and commit to the treatment plan.

With the help of an animal, you can learn how to manage your anxiety, depression, and stress. Furthermore, you can also gain confidence and feel more connected to the world around you.

A Word From Therapy Mantra

Your mental health — Your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.

At TherapyMantra, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, workplace Issues, addiction, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.