Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a goal directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is delivered by a licensed professional within the mental health field and is designed to promote improvement in social, emotional, and cognitive functioning. Utilizing AAT means that there are specified treatment goals with corresponding objectives. This process is documented within progress notes and treatment planning. 

What are the Benefits of AAT?

  • Animals help improve client motivation and engagement in therapy, resulting in a shorter recovery process (and lower costs).
  • AAT is experiential in nature and helps clients practice skills in session.
  • AAT often works clients who have had limited success in traditional talk therapy settings.
  • Animals provide a sense of security and emotional support. Dogs in particular offer unconditional acceptance and positive regard.
  • Animals can promote relaxation. Research has demonstrated that petting an animal can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and increase oxytocin (a feel-good chemical in the brain).
  • Animals can help the client learn frustration tolerance and other anger management techniques.
  • Animals can help in the areas of focus and attention.
  • Animals can be instruments of learning, which can increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Animals offer humor and fun due to their playful nature.
  • Therapy Animals model positive attributes to clients, such as patience and forgiveness, allowing clients to develop empathy, nurturance, and responsibility.
  • Clients can learn advocacy skills by likening stereotypes affecting animals to how they deal with stereotypes in their own life.

Animal Assisted Counseling of Colorado