What is Animal Assisted Therapy?
- social functioning
- emotional well-being
- cognitive functioning
- physical functioning
Animal Assisted Therapy can be used within a psychotherapy setting, and henceforth it is less commonly known as Animal Assisted Psychotherapy. For matter of terms, I will use Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). AAT is a tool that is used in conjunction with other theoretical approaches. Every counselor will tailor their approach in animal-assisted within their unique theoretical orientation.
How can Animal Assisted Therapy benefit me?
Animals Assisted Therapy is proven to be beneficial for emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
Emotional: Animals can create emotions in us that we cannot receive from other human beings. Animals provide an emotional support because naturally they are genuine, nonjudgmental, and accepting. Animals can help create a safe and trusting environment that can decrease anxiety about coming to counseling, and working through tough life situations.
Physically: Depending on how you want to work with the animal, animals can have physical benefits such as movement, mobility, and coordination. Working with an animal gives you the opportunity to think outside the box during a counseling session and work within the realm of the whole body.
Mentally: Working with animals can help gives us skills of confidence, assertiveness, and follow through. These skills can be accomplished through a myriad of techniques and tasks while working with the therapist and animal. There is also a biological component at work with interacting with a live animal. Oxytocin is a chemical in the brain that is correlated with bonding and safety, and when petting an animal our body’s production of oxytocin increases during that time.
How do Animal Assisted Therapy sessions work?
Animal Assisted Therapy sessions work like traditional therapy sessions, only with the animal being a part of the treatment plan. The sessions are still 50 minutes in length for individuals, and each individual goes through the steps of counseling in the way they choose. Individuals create therapeutic goals and each person will work toward their goals in a uniquely tailored plan created by both that individual and the counselor. If AAT is something that interests you Lula and I would love to answer any further questions you have about the process! We look forward to hearing from you.
It is not required, at Courage To Connect Counseling, that you work with an animal. I offer both traditional and animal-assisted therapy. You may choose what form you would prefer.