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 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 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

Having loved and lived with animals most of my life, I know the therapeutic benevolence animals offer is unparalleled. Research studies have shown the efficacy of human-animal interactions and the therapeutic benefits they provide for their owners and clients. As I have specialized in canine and equine-assisted psychotherapies, I highly encourage clients to interact with animals personally or in a more structured, therapeutically beneficial manner.

— Jen Strickland, M.A., Counselor in Charlotte, NC

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 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 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

Alongside my Chihuahua puppy Cancun Veas, I am able to harness the therapeutic powers of the human-animal interaction to assist in a comfortable and safe environment as you pursue your mental health goals. I also provide Emotional Support Animal or ESA letters for clients who are in need of assistance to address mental health issues with companionship and support.

— Gabe Veas, Addictions Counselor in Palm Springs, CA

I am the founder of the American Association of Animal-Assisted Therapy and love working with my dogs.

— Martin Wesley, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

I have a certified professional canine co-therapist, Moxey, CBD, CBD- A and use her in individual therapy. I received my certification and AASW credentials on August 25,2019.

— Ada Brosier, Clinical Social Worker in Rockford, MI

Meet my rescue Gracie! She takes her job very seriously and enjoys meeting and greeting new clients!

— Marci Orr, Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, TX

If you’re nervous about coming in and talking to a therapist, you’re not alone. If you find yourself feeling this, animal-assisted therapy can be a great way to help you feel more at ease. Many of my clients love working with Rockstar the therapy dog, as they can pet him to self-soothe, look at him instead of me, or use him as a distractor to let themselves talk about challenging emotions or events. He'll be happy to meet you!

— Steffanie Grossman, Psychologist in Dallas, TX

My certified therapy dog, Cascade, and I partner for many sessions. Studies have shown that interacting with a familiar animal can lower stress levels, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, and increase oxytocin. I harness this power by including Cascade in sessions to help clients regulate, practice mindfulness and frustration tolerance, and build family skills.

— Mandy Dorsett, Therapist in Denver, CO

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

We may talk about ways people can use relationships with the animals they have at home as a healing resource.

— Jo Bauer, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in Tacoma, WA

I specialize in animal-assisted therapy, and often partner with my certified therapy dog, Nalu. I graduated in 2020 with my certificate in Animal-Assisted Social Work from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work.

— Mary Ramatici, Clinical Social Worker in Highlands Ranch, CO

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