AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy)
Minnesota Therapy Animals
Making Beautiful Music........
Composer/Conductor = Therapist*
Musican/Protege = Client
Working together the composer's work comes to life in the
talent of the musician. But it's that hard work of both
individuals; fine tuning, practicing and utilizing any element
that enhances or complements the final piece.
AAT works in quite the same manner, with the therapist
orchestrating the session from beginning to end, with the
animal therapy team serving as the complementary element.
Therapy animals have already been around various environments/ facilities and can work in any
environment comfortably and safely. Most of the time, many of the skills are already being used,
just not in a formal plan. The planned protocol of the therapist is only limited by his/or her
In an established OT/PT department it would not be uncommon to have five or six animals teams
available, and the skills and talents of each animal inventoried. The level of skill or talent may be
simple or complex. The therapist only needs to match the appropriate team to the desired
criteria that the plan of action he/she has in mind for the client.
To avoid lengthily text and making this sound more complicated. Peruse the following
presentation A Team Effort to get a sampling of how some simple skills/ talents can complement
the task of the therapist and client. Ah yes, and have a little fun.
For our purposes, the "therapist" refers to the both the medical and educational professional.
|Do you know the
Photo Credits: Cheri & Viktor Swenson
Anna Ellingson (feline)
- improve memory and recall;
- address grieving and loss issues;
- improve self-esteem, be presented with opportunities to succeed and feel important, and
- improve feelings of self worth;
- improve reality;
- improve cooperation and problem-solving ability;
- improve concentration and attention, and increase engagement;
- decrease manipulative behaviors;
- improve expression of feelings;
- reduce general anxiety;
- reduce abusive behavior;
- improve an ability to trust; and
- learn appropriate touch; etc.
Common mental health treatment interventions in AAT that assist in meeting the goals listed
above may include:
- practice teaching the animals something new;
- engage in play with the animal and other types of appropriate interactions;
- learn about, and practice care, grooming and feeding of the animal;
- learn other information about the animal (breed, history, etc.)
- reminisce about the animal or past animals;
- remember and repeat information about the animals to others;
- take the animal for a supervised walk;
- receive and give appropriate affection and acceptance with the animal;
- discuss how animals may feel in certain situations;
- learn gentle ways to handle animals;
- follow a sequence of instruction with the animal;
- observe and discuss the animal’s response to human behavior;
- interpret animal behavior as it happens; etc.
Animals in the Classroom
Goals for students using AAA or AAT might include:
- Gaining knowledge about animals;
- Learning humane animals care;
- Motor and physical skill development through human-animal interactions;
- Animals training;
- Practicing discipline;
- Incorporating an attitude of kindness and compassion;
- Learning about nurturing;
- Practicing loyalty and responsibility;
- Experiencing human animal bonding;
- Learning responsible pet ownership, etc.
Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (Paperback)
by Cynthia K Chandler
Compassionate Modalities Book with DVD (Spiral-bound)
by Kris Butler (Author)
Handbook on Animal Animal-assisted Interventions for Individuals With Autism (Paperback)
by Merope Pavlides
-Assisted Therapy, Second Edition: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice
by Aubrey H. Fine
MN LINC also has several manuals available on their respective website. http://www.mnlinc.