In animal-assisted therapy, our psychologists work along with trained therapy dogs to speed up the recovery process and to help patients learn or improve various skills(social, verbal, physical, cognitive). We also use AAT to help clients deal with emotional/behavioral problems.
How does Animal-assisted Therapy complement traditional forms of therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy enables us to bring the unconditional love of an animal into a therapy setting. Animals provide that extra something that a human therapist cannot always give during therapy. Having a friendly pet in the room allows the client to relax, which helps build rapport and trust with the therapist. For example, a therapy dog’s presence serves as an effective ice-breaker with withdrawn and uncooperative clients who see the therapist as more friendly if there is a therapy pet present in the room.
But most of all, in caring for our animals these patients (whose frame of reference usually does not extend beyond themselves) learn to relate to and communicate better in their interpersonal relationships. Our therapy provides them the opportunity to experience internal and external sensations, something that they are unable to do with other people.