Animal Assisted Therapy is a goal-directed intervention in which a dog is an integral part of the treatment process. The connection between people and animals is powerful when used in a helping capacity.
Animal assisted therapy is designed to help improve social, emotional, behavioral and cognitive functioning. A treatment plan defines goals to be met with the integration of a dog in the therapy.
An animal offers a non-judgmental and unconditional positive regard for an individual.
Children and families feel more at ease with the comfort of the dog’s presence. The dog helps to quickly build and maintain a working relationship which enhances the quality of the therapeutic work.
Dogs serve to improve the ability to express difficult thoughts and emotions.
Animal-Assisted Therapy is helpful for conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavioral challenges, anger issues, and developmental delays.
About our Therapist
Maureen Wilson LICSW, BCD at Family Psychiatry Associates earned a Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy Activities and Learning from the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work in May 2010. She completed a year long program to achieve this certificate which covered various animal assisted applications, research and theory on the Human-Animal Health connections.
She is also a licensed Delta Society Evaluator.
How Animal Assisted Therapy Works
The use of animal assisted therapy is based on a clinical evaluation. Treatment goals are established and integrated into the therapeutic work and interaction with the dog.
Screening for allergies or fear of dogs and history of pets is reviewed to ensure patient safety.
Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy:
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves mood
- Builds self-esteem
- Practice appropriate social skills
- Address grief and loss
- Improve self control, increase attention and focusing
- Lowers blood pressure
- Promotes social interaction and communication
- Decreases sympathetic nervous system arousal
- Increase motivation
- Improves confidence
- Increase empathy
- Improves ability to trust
- Increases cooperation
- Provides affection
- Improve memory and recall
Animal Assisted Therapy Techniques
Animal Assisted Therapy techniques would be prescribed based on treatment goals. Some examples of animal assisted therapy techniques include:
- Discuss how the animal may feel in certain situations
- Observe and discuss animal’s responses to human behavior
- Generalize animal behavior to human circumstances
- Follow a sequence of instructions with the animal
- Predict or forecast animal behavior
- Develop a cooperative plan to accomplish something with the animal
- Learn and repeat information about the animal
- Give and receive affection with an animal
Our Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs
All dogs are registered with Delta Society, an international Human Animal Health Connection organization. The dogs are evaluated for ability to provide animal assisted therapy and are screened for health. THD is a title awarded by AKC to therapy dogs meeting their criteria.