Animal Assisted therapy is a complementary type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. This practice uses canine-assisted therapy only when requested and when it is appropriate to meet the patient’s therapeutic goals. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning and literature reviews state that animals can be useful for educational and motivational effectiveness for participants. There are various studies documenting the positive effects of AAT reported through subjective self-rating scales and objective physiological measures, such as blood pressure, hormone levels, etc.
The practice’s dogs can be used for just a few moments of a session, at the end of the session as a reward for working on challenging issues, or for the entire session to help manage symptoms. Only one dog would be present at any session and would only come to session after assessment of needs and safety planning. Animal assisted therapy could be used to facilitate socialization, help practice effective communication skills, to practice mindfulness and grounding techniques, exposure when a phobia is present and to provide support and comfort.
Yankee is a Shih Tzu I rescued several years ago. He is about 9 years old and full of spunk. He is great at following commands and takes treats gently. He is great with people who struggle to find their voice. He can help people practice assertive communication skills and can help build confidence for those who may have a fear of dogs. While Yankee’s breed is known to be hypoallergenic, every person responds differently to animals and it is imperative that you check with your physician prior to starting any animal interaction.
Ziggy is a yellow lab who was re-homed when he was almost four years old. Ziggy likes to snort and roll in the mud so his nickname is Ziggy Piggy. His heart is as big as he is. He is incredible with people who have sensory issues and can tolerate people who may need to practice using a gentler touch. He is now 9 years old.
Fiona is a border collie/retriever mix and is a year and a half. She was adopted locally from Ollie’s Angels Rescue. She has an abundance of love to give. She can be jumpy so is better with teens and adults. I love to have her join sessions with people who are sharing traumatic experiences or feeling depressed, as they often struggle with dissociation or disconnection from the present moment. Having Fiona play and kiss (Yes she will kiss you. A lot.) will help you practice staying in the moment.
Jax is a hound/pointer/lab mix and is a year and a half. He was rescued locally from Ollie’s Angels Rescue. He is shy, but very smart. His face is so adorable that he has been nicknamed “baby.” He is great with people who struggle to connect, as he is very gentle and somewhat timid.
*Every person responds differently to animals and it is imperative that you have clearance from a physician prior to starting any animal interaction.
**We do our best to sanitize the office after every animal assisted interaction. Please notify the practice if you have any allergies.