Everything You Need To Know About Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

Is Animal Assisted Therapy really effective?

 
Everything You Need To Know About Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
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Doesn’t it sound cute when you know that your therapist or psychologist is being assisted by a furry friend? AAT recognizes this impact of human-animal interactions and is making its mark in traditional talk therapy.

AAT might sound like an attack to the serious issues that are dealt in a therapy room and you could be a little reluctant to allow an animal in that space of serious issues. So, let me tell you that AAT is not ‘frolicking around’ with an animal in clinical interactions. Both the animal and the service provider are fully trained for clinical applications of your interaction with that animal. Let’s skim over some of the crucial points while we choose AAT over traditional talk therapy-

Help In A Wide Variety Of Clinical Settings

How do you feel when they welcome you with that wagging tail, a little roll on the floor and repetitive jumps?
How do you feel when they welcome you with that wagging tail, a little roll on the floor and repetitive jumps?

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Therapy animals are of assistance to psychiatrists and therapists where intense cases are handled like anxiety disorders or helping patients of post-trauma. Along with that, they are also helpful in relatively simpler settings like nursing homes or orphanages where the goal might be to build self-esteem or improve social interactions. The essential part is to know for what type of goal achievement is your animal and the service provider trained for.

Does AAT Actually Work?

Dogs, horses, dolphins, llamas and many more animals are eligible for being trained in AAT. Although there’s little research in the success rate of AAT over traditional therapy, case studies and anecdotes in the form of novels and films tell us that animals can be one of the best tools for the therapist. Also, therapists tell us that they help build quick rapport with the clients. Animals are helpful in behaviour monitoring too because they respond almost immediately to positive or negative behaviours of the clients. Thus, they are good assistance in making the client practise caring and social skills.

When AAT Supersedes Talk Therapy

Never do they discriminate when you touch them, offer them food, take them for a walk on the basis of your gender, colour, religion or whatever mess humans struggle with!
Never do they discriminate when you touch them, offer them food, take them for a walk on the basis of your gender, colour, religion or whatever mess humans struggle with!

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It is a common fear in clients for sharing personal experiences with a therapist who is a human. Apart from the safe-space and confidentiality promised, we all have a reluctance to let that other ‘human’ hear our wrongdoings and issues. Funnily, we might not find animals that dangerous a listener. We can believe that they don’t pre-judge, they aren’t bound by the social norms and won’t find us guilty if we talk it out in their presence. They bring us a sense of comfort of being consistently friendly and welcoming. This form of acceptance is extremely powerful in making therapy a success.

Animals are increasingly becoming co-therapists and it’s only good that a human dominated field welcomes this kind of change for a greater good. And I think that’s the core of Psychology as a discipline, they believe very rigidly in the flexibility of their field. They are proud of the fact that those who teach us most about humanity aren’t always humans.