Ferret Care

Animal Assisted Therapy in practice  

There is much we can learn from the pets, as clearly demonstrated by the quotes of many pet owners who interact with their animals daily. 


Now that you know how beneficial it is to own a pet, it’s time to take a closer look at animal assisted therapy in practice. Remember, you don’t have to actually “own” a pet to benefit from pet therapy. Many pet therapists volunteer or use their pets as a formal or informal part of their traditional therapy sessions with patients. 


AAT Defined 

AAT is an “untraditional” approach to therapy that stimulates rehabilitation in ailing patients and can provide physical support to patients with physical disabilities. It involves the use of animals to facilitate hearing in some patients, to facilitate greater mobility, to establish greater socialization and interaction, and to enable faster recovery and less pain in some instances for patients with chronic diseases. These are just a few of the benefits associated with animal assisted therapy. 


Animal Assisted Activities 

AAT and AAA are two separate but related concepts. AAA stands for “animal assisted activities” and involves any activities delivered to individuals through trained professionals or centres that encourage education, recreation and work to enhance the quality of life for patients working with animals as part of their therapy goals. AAA is worthy of mention because some practitioners use the two words interchangeably to describe the process of “pet therapy.” 



Most people want proof something works before they try it. The good news is there is plenty of evidence supporting the use of animals in therapy. The use of animals as part of our lives is not anything new. For centuries people have used pets as companions, as aids in labour and as instruments that often contribute to a person’s perception of the quality of their life. 


Psychologists realized early on that introducing dogs into therapy sessions often resulted in a friendlier, more relaxed and trusting environment. 


Obviously, this environment is much more conducive to psychological counselling than an aggressive or tension filled session. Researchers now define “pet therapy” as an official tool therapists and other healthcare providers can use in the “human services” field. This field includes any type of therapeutic environment that addresses physical or psychological symptoms in patients. 


Pet therapy did not start out as a formal form of therapy. Typically, pet owners or other volunteers would visit healthcare facilities, like long-term health care centres routinely to meet with patients or residents. The purpose of informal therapeutic sessions like this is merely to improve a patient or resident’s outlook on life or feelings for the day. 


Anyone can acknowledge the benefits a scruffy, friendly and loving dog can introduce into an otherwise bleak setting. 


With time, researchers began realizing that pet visits could assist patients, young and old alike, in various ways, whether they suffered from emotional problems, physical disabilities, chronic health problems or whether they lived in an isolated environment or assisted living facility. Because of this, they gradually began to formalize the method of delivery used when introducing pets into therapy sessions. 


Much of early pet therapy also focused on improving the quality of life for elderly patients that felt lonely. A visit by a child might prove just as endearing and life-promoting as a visit by an unconditionally loving dog or other pet. 


Shop Ferret.com