What is animal assisted therapy?

Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic intervention that incorporates animals, such as dogs/rabbits into a treatment plan. AAT is goal directed and can focus on physical, social, emotional and mental health issues of an individual. Objectives can be taken from Educational Health care plans.


It is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. It also involves the animal's handler. The purpose of pet therapy is to help someone recover from or cope with a health problem or mental disorder.


It is used to enhance and complement the benefits of traditional therapy.

Girl with pink Helmet

What is animal assisted activities?

Animal assisted activities (AAA) are defined as informal therapeutic interactions with an animal. These sessions provide opportunities for motivational, educational and or recreational benefits to enhance quality of life as a group or one to one.


An example of this would be incorporating an animal assistance dog into the learning environment to help an anxious child with their reading. As a non-judgemental friend the dog could build the child's confidence and self esteem, by sitting calmly and quietly with the child. It can release endorphins that can help with a calming effect on the child... helping to achieve goals together, stress free.

Animal assisted therapy and activities CAN help with:-

Managing stress.


Lowering blood pressure.


Trauma.


Anxiety/ Depression.


Speech and language delay.

High Five

Animal assisted therapy and activities can also:-

Provide comfort and reduce levels of emotional pain.


Help improve movement and motor skills.


Help to develop social or behavioural skills.


Help increase motivation towards activities such as exercise or interacting with others.


The human-animal bond itself may help the person in several ways - it can reduce boredom, increase movement through walks and play. Animals provide companionship and decrease loneliness. This improves mood and general well-being.


Activities can include grooming, feeding and general caring for the animal - a dog walk or even collecting an egg or two from the chicken garden.

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