Animal-assisted therapy improves patients’ mental, physical, social and emotional functioning with the aid of animals. Depending on the needs of the patient, many different animals can be used in therapy, including horses (also called equine-assisted therapy), dogs (also called canine-assisted therapy), rabbits and other animals.
Animal-assisted therapy takes place in a variety of settings, including prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, therapeutic boarding schools for teens and mental health facilities. This form of treatment can take place individually or in groups, and is led by a qualified therapist or professional with specialized expertise.
Much more than simply spending time with an animal, animal-assisted therapy involves specific therapeutic goals, strategies and outcomes measures. Therapeutic experiences can include brushing, walking, petting and caring for an animal, as well as processing the experience of trying to achieve a given task.
Animal Therapy Benefits- improved fine motor skills, improved balance, increased focus and attention, increased self-esteem and ability to care for oneself, reduced anxiety, reduced grief, reduced isolation, reduced blood pressure, reduced depression, and more.