Animal assisted therapy (AAT) has become the new buzzword in the field of mental health.
While animal assisted therapy was previously seen as an alternative treatment, it has become more main stream, and it’s now common to find animals in the therapy office, retirement community, and hospital.
All animals can provide love and friendship to those around them, but therapy animals are specially trained to be comfortable around people with disabilities, to not bite when startled, and to accept petting from people of all ages and conditions.
What is animal assisted therapy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.”
Animal assisted therapy has been studied and proven to work with children who have experienced abuse or neglect and for people recovering from cancer and other diseases. It’s been shown to be effective with veterans and their families. Nursing homes, libraries, schools, and even prisons have had success with bringing trained animals in to help ease tension, provide support, and comfort. Animals are able to reach people in ways that nothing else can.
What makes animal assisted therapy work?
The connection between animals and humans has been present since the first wolves became companions to our ancestors tens of thousands of years ago.
As researchers grow in their understanding of what this connection can do and how it can help heal those in need, people will continue to seek out the healing relationship that our furred and feathered companions bring.
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Animal Assisted Therapy - New Wings (August 9, 2014)
Last reviewed: 9 Aug 2014