Animal-assisted therapy AAT and emotional support animals

what is animal assisted therapy

They do not have public rights, meaning they cannot go into any public non-pet-friendly area without prior approval. Therefore, therapy dogs may often gain approval from a therapist, hospital, or nursing detox home before entering. Therapy dogs learn obedience skills in training and are tested for temperament and behavior around certain stimuli like loud noises, children, and sensitive individuals.

  1. Also considering the interventions’ characteristics, the results appeared variegated.
  2. Professionals administering or overseeing AAT might work with any type of animal, depending on the preferences and personal needs of a person in therapy.
  3. However, people who are afraid of animals or who don’t like them may not be a good fit for animal therapy.

Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure. Animals can help combat loneliness and boost social support, both through interactions with the animal and interactions that involve other people. Animals can lead people to get more physical activity than they would otherwise. Some mental health conditions may cause challenges for a person to leave their house to partake in activities, including attending therapy appointments. In cases of severe depression or anxiety, a client might consider online therapy.

The mental health benefits of animal-assisted therapy for kids go even further. Additionally, some long-term care facilities may offer pet therapy programs to help improve the mood and general well-being of people in these facilities. Studies involving the use of therapy horses and dogs have shown that animal therapy might also help alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic antidepressants and alcohol interactions stress disorder (PTSD). On the whole, the goal of animal assisted therapy is to alleviate or help people cope with some symptoms of various conditions where possible. Further research is needed to show the effectiveness of animal-assisted interventions in treating post-traumatic stress disorder for sexual assault survivors across varying demographics.

What therapy can help with

For example, a therapy dog cannot accompany a handler into a business establishment. Three investigators (EC, GP and GV) independently conducted a first literature search, sorting sources by title and abstract. During the first screening, the irrelevant or duplicated papers were excluded. Finally, the researchers independently assessed the articles considering the criteria enunciated above.

what is animal assisted therapy

Kreinberg says her dog helped connect with children who lost trust in adults due to abuse. People who do not respond well to animal therapy or are not interested in trying it may ask about other options. These will include checking immunization records and performing physical exams to ensure that the animal is generally healthy and free of disease. They will also have to undergo temperament testing to make sure that they behave properly with both the handler and other people. A number of organizations train handlers and connect them to healthcare providers. Before getting approval for therapy use, both the animal and the handler will have to go through various certifications with these groups and organizations.

Types of therapy

Therapists may also use small therapy animals like rodents to support their clients. The convenience of carrying them around makes these animals a popular choice for therapy. Some animals, like rats, can be taught tricks, and success in these areas can help with confidence-building.

Much of the work is with metaphors – discussing how clients  are responding to the animals in terms of something else in their lives. It can also give therapists useful insights into their clients’ feelings and behaviour, seeing how they form relationships or respond to different situations. Therapy dogs may belong to your therapist or work with a program that brings them temporarily to certain therapy groups or centers.

She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development. Or, it may take a more active role, like when a therapy client interacts with the animal by grooming it or walking with it. Some people may not enjoy animal therapy or have other reasons to avoid it, and they can choose from alternative therapies. They may not choose this type of therapy as it would cause them more stress.

No restriction was performed based on inpatient age, pathology, or type of animal used. All types of papers were included, since RCTs were few and did not give a complete overview of the topic. In some cases, a person may become very attached to the animal rather quickly. sobriety strategies This feeling could lead to possessiveness or actually decrease a person’s satisfaction with therapy. Some people going through rehabilitation for a drug use disorder may also respond well and have a greater sense of well-being when working with an animal.

Where can you find animal-assisted therapy?

The screening protocols resulted extremely variable, and eighteen dog-owners (20%) declared that they did not follow any infection control. Furthermore, over 70% of the interviewed handlers allowed the dog both to climb on patient’s bed and to lick patients. Finally, the dog owners were not aware of the potential zoonosis risks [45]. After removing the duplicates and irrelevant results, 64 articles for full text review were obtained. The human relationship with animals can be useful and relatively safe for inpatients with various problems. Moreover, the implementation of security precautions and the careful selection of patients should minimize the risks, particularly those infection-related.

Silveira et al. reported the implementation protocol of an AAA program in a Brazilian University hospital. This protocol included a wide range of potential employed animals, including dogs, cats, fishes, rabbits, reptiles and other rodents [42]. Similarly, Kobayashi et al. reported the Board of Nursery experience concerning the implementation of an AAT project in a University hospital. In particular, the authors adapted the CDC guidelines to their specific setting [43]. The main limitations were linked to the heterogeneity of the retrieved studies considering both the outcomes and the quality, making the comparison quite difficult. Indeed, in accordance with previous reviews [4], [15], the previous cited findings are limited by the overall low quality of the retrieved studies.

However, the application of hygiene protocols consented an effective risk minimization [39]. Moreover, the repeated health screenings for the animals and the careful selection of patients, using special precautions in case of open wounds and immunosuppression can help to control the risks [37]. Another risk is allergy; anyhow, the reasoned selection of patients and animals can effectively reduce this risk.

The studies regarding adults were rare, but they considered different diseases including orthopaedic surgery and high-risk pregnancies [31], [32], [33], [34], [35], [36]. Traditional therapy and mental health care, such as talk therapy are not equally effective for all people or conditions. Research suggests that introducing other complementary therapies such as animal therapy can aid in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions. Animal interventions have been studied for different pathologies including mental disorders [4] and cancer [5].

Individuals who perceive hostility or disregard from other humans may come to accept the nonjudgmental and unconditional affection and attention from an animal, instead. Studies of AAT demonstrate these results in nearly all participants, regardless of age, the duration of the session, or the severity of symptoms. Eligibility depends on the care setting and the condition of the person to receive the therapy.

However, people who are afraid of animals or who don’t like them may not be a good fit for animal therapy. The experience could cause additional stress that outweighs the potential benefits. Animal-assisted therapy can provide both mental health and medical benefits.


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