Animal assisted therapy (AAT) uses animals as a therapeutic treatment plan to help individuals with various physical, emotional, or psychological conditions. Qualified therapists can use different animals, depending on the client’s needs and goals. Here are some animals you can see at animal therapy:
Dogs are utilized in animal assisted therapy due to their affectionate nature and ability to form strong bonds with humans. Therapy dogs get trained to be obedient and calm, which can help offer therapeutic benefits to clients. For clients with physical disabilities, dogs can serve as companions during physical activities, such as walking and playing fetch.
Interacting with dogs can have a calming and soothing effect on individuals. The act of petting or cuddling a dog can facilitate the release of oxytocin and reduce stress hormones like cortisol. This physiological response can help individuals manage anxiety and depression symptoms.
Cats are good for pet therapy due to their independent and calm demeanor. Petting a cat, listening to its purring, and feeling its soft fur can trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers. This can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in clients.
These pets can be used in individual therapy sessions, group therapy, or residential treatment programs. In cases where clients could be experiencing loneliness or isolation, cats can be reliable companions. Cats can provide a healthy distraction from difficult emotions or thoughts when clients play with these pets.
Horse therapy or equine therapy can help address emotional and behavioral issues in clients. Common activities during this therapy include horse riding, grooming, leading the horse, obstacle courses, or team challenges. Therapy horses are selected carefully and trained to be calm, patient, and responsive to human interactions.
Trained therapists guide clients through activities and help them process their experiences. Being in a natural, outdoor setting and engaging with horses can reduce stress and anxiety levels. The experience of grooming, riding, or being around horses can promote relaxation.
Birds, such as parrots, canaries, and budgerigars, can be used in AAT to promote relaxation and social interaction. Listening to the chirping and singing of birds can have a calming effect on some individuals and reduce stress and anxiety. Birds can serve as conversation starters, allowing therapists and clients to discuss topics related to the care, behavior, and traits of the birds.
Therapists may choose specific bird species based on the therapy goals and the preferences of the individuals receiving therapy. If the goal is to promote social interaction and communication, more interactive and engaging bird species, such as parrots and budgerigars, can be used for therapy. Canaries can be suitable for individuals with sensory sensitivities who can benefit from interacting with quieter and less stimulating birds.
Interactions with farm animals, like goats, sheep, and cows, during AAT, can be valuable for individuals with sensory processing disorders. The rhythmic movements of certain animals may help promote emotional regulation. Farm animals do not require complex verbal communication, making interactions less overwhelming for some individuals.
Caring for these animals by feeding them, cleaning their living spaces, and enhancing their well-being can establish a structured daily routine. Routine can be helpful for clients with sensory processing disorders, as it provides a sense of control and order in their environment.
Turtles are slow-moving animals that can be used in animal therapy to promote relaxation and a sense of calm. They are often used with individuals who may have sensory sensitivities. Turtles are quiet, making them suitable for clients who can be overwhelmed by more active or noisy animals.
Clients can enjoy the sensations of touching a turtle’s shell, watching its slow movements, and listening to the sounds it makes as it moves in the water. These sensory experiences can be soothing and engaging to certain individuals.
Book an Appointment for Animal Assisted Therapy
During animal therapy, you can see cats, dogs, turtles, horses, farm animals, and birds. A qualified therapist can choose the right animal for social interaction, sensory stimulation, or emotional support. The therapist also reviews any allergies or phobias the individual may have when choosing animals for AAT. During the sessions, therapists assess the individual’s progress and adjust the therapy plan as needed for better results. Start your search for an animal assisted therapy center near you.