Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is an experiential treatment method that involves clients interacting with animals, which could include dogs, horses, cats, or birds, among others. AAT has been used to treat issues including ADD, abuse, depression, anxiety, drug abuse, eating disorders, and more. AAT can take different forms. Depending on the animal, in animal assisted therapy, a client might keep a dog, cat, or other pet at home for emotional support. If you are staying in a residential treatment facility, such as a hospital or a rehab center, a trained therapy animal might visit you. Or, during a session, a client may groom, feed or walk the horse while the therapist observes the clients' reactions to the horse's behavior (known as equine assisted therapy). Therapists that utilize AAT often believe that animals provide comfort and calm as well as instant and accurate feedback of a client's thoughts and feelings, which can help both the therapist and client become more aware of these emotions. Animals are nonjudgmental, which can help clients connect with another living being that accepts them – making it easier to learn to trust, and easing the path into having trusting relationships with other people. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s AAT specialists today.

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I offer Animal Assisted Play Therapy to children to help with a variety of issues, including low self esteem, depression, anxiety, attention and learning difficulties, and poor social skills, to name a few. It primarily focuses on the child's strengths while also addressing his or her life challenges. While all of my therapy during the Covid-19 crisis is provided online, this particular form of therapy needs to be done in the office. I will resume offering it once it is safe to do so.

— Lisabeth Wotherspoon, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Rochester, NH

My therapy dog, Lilly, LOVES her job. A sweet and gentle Cavanese, Lilly greets patients with great enthusiasm, enjoys giving kisses, and knows when it's time to offer comfort or lay quietly in her bed. She is hypoallergenic and weighs about 20 pounds. She sometimes snores loudly during sessions, but more often wants to sit next to patients as a warm and comforting presence during therapy.

— Lauren Bartholomew, Psychologist in King of Prussia, PA

I have completed levels 1 and 2 training from the International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy and received supervision in AAPT. My therapy dog, Rogue, is registered with Pet Partners and she is an eager and active co-facilitator of therapy sessions.

— Rachel Narrow, Clinical Social Worker in Chevy Chase, MD

I am trained in animal assisted therapy. Our office does have a feline co-therapist, who is available upon request.

— Amanda Trost, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Sugar Land, TX

When doing therapy, I often relate back to animals and how they function in their own world. Do animals have anxiety and to what extent do they have anxiety? Why is anxiety chronic in humans but not in wild animals? When it comes down to it, humans are animals and if we look at animals behavior, we can often help explain our own behavior and get back to our natural instincts.

— Chase Tucker, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lakewood, CO

I often bring my two parrots into the office when doing in person therapy. I've been bring them in for years. I originally brought them in for a young boy on the spectrum and my other clients met them. Other's began demanding I bring them in and it grew from there. They connect in a way that humans do not and often help people get over their anxiety. Plus, they are just fun!

— Jeffrey LiCalzi, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Wake Forest, NC

I utilize Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Interventions. During COVID-19, since I am seeing clients entirely through telehealth, I welcome your pets into session to help you cope. I also use many metaphors involving the animal world to help you see different perspectives. When it is again safe to return to in-person sessions, my animals (golden retriever and kenyan sandboas) look forward to greeting you.

— BRIANA MESSERSCHMIDT, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Alamitos, CA

I have 6 dogs so when I say having a animal around to talk to helps it is the truth.

— Kaylissa Butrum, Psychiatrist in danville, IN

Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure. Advocates of animal-assisted therapy say that developing a bond with an animal can help people develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilize their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills.

— Lisa Stull, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Parker, CO

My therapy dog, Emma, CGC, is a yellow labrador retriever mixed with a golden retriever. She was born in December of 2013. Her training began at eight weeks of age. It was evident from her first training session that Emma was bound to succeed as a Therapy Dog. She quickly earned her Canine Good Citizenship Award through the American Kennel Club.

— Beth Kennedy (Perspectives Therapy Services), Clinical Social Worker in Brighton, MI

Coming Soon for In-Person sessions. Shelby is my Goldendoodle who is has worked with children and adults in therapeutic interventions in the past. Due to Covid, she has had to take a hiatus however will be returning to her work in therapy soon!

— Melony Burns, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Lacey, WA

Animal-assisted therapy is an alternative or complementary type of therapy that includes the use of animals in a treatment. The goal of this animal-assisted intervention is to improve a patient's social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

— Dr. Mason Weber, Psychologist in Sandy Springs, GA

Laurel Gray works with several therapy dog “co-therapists” (non-shedding Labradoodles) to provide Animal-Assisted Therapy. This is a form of ecotherapy that they have training in (and is an evidenced practice that is beneficial to the therapeutic process for many clients). The canine co-therapists also have completed training and are certified therapy dogs.

— Laurel Gray Robbins, Clinical Social Worker in Burlington, VT

I have a Bichon Frise who is certified as a therapy canine. Goofy began working in 2019 at Brooke Army Medical Center He is a hypo-allergenic canine. He currently works part time with me

— Sandra Herman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Morristown, TN

Animals are a big part of my life and I believe our relationships with animals can mirror our relationships with people creating rich content to explore in therapy. While I’m currently only practicing virtually, I’ll be incorporating some in person AAT sessions in 2022.

— Melissa Trevathan-Minnis, Psychologist in ,