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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Meet the specialists

 

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 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 Houston, TX

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 18 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
 

In 2017 I completed a post-graduate training program in Animals and Human Health through the University of Denver School of Social Work. I incorporate Animal Assisted Interventions into my clinical work whenever it is indicated for best treatment. Most recently I have been including my Canine Animal Partner, Eben in sessions focused on anxiety or PTSD and my Feline Animal Partner, Jet in sessions focused on mindfulness and interactional work. Animals only join clients who are interested.

— Jennifer Wolfe-Hagstrom, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Amherst, NH

I utilize the Natural Lifemanship Institute's model of animal assisted therapy.

— Lauren Ellis Robinson, Therapist in Nesbit, MS
 

I specialize in equine assisted psychotherapy and have a therapy dog who attends in-person sessions.

— Shannon Brock, Therapist in Fort Edward, NY

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
 

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

Krista is currently pursuing her Postgraduate Veterinary Social Work Certificate from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Wyatt works with Krista in providing Animal Assisted Therapy. A Lab/Doberman mix rescued from the Greenville Humane Society, Wyatt enjoys helping others, volunteering in the community, time spent with his family, naps, and TREATS!

— Krista Martin, Clinical Social Worker in Greenville, SC