What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that uses animals to help improve the mental and physical health of individuals. This form of therapy has gained a lot of attention in recent years due to the many benefits it provides to people. In this blog post, we will explore what animal-assisted therapy is, its benefits, and how it is used.
What is animal-assisted therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy involves the use of animals to help improve the physical, emotional, and mental health of individuals. A variety of animals can be used in AAT, including dogs, cats, horses, and even dolphins. The animals are trained to interact with people in a therapeutic setting, and the therapy is conducted by a trained professional, like a therapist or counselor.
The aim of animal-assisted therapy is to help individuals achieve their therapeutic goals, such as reducing stress and anxiety, improving socialization, enhancing communication skills, and much more. The animals used in AAT are often seen as non-judgmental and provide a sense of comfort and support to individuals.
Benefits of animal-assisted therapy
There are many benefits of animal-assisted therapy, including:
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Studies have shown that spending time with animals can help reduce stress and anxiety levels in individuals. The presence of animals can help lower blood pressure and decrease levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
- Improved socialization: AAT can be particularly helpful for individuals who struggle with socialization. Animals can provide a non-threatening way for individuals to practice social skills, such as communication and empathy.
- Enhanced communication skills: Animals can be a great way to improve communication skills. For example, individuals may need to communicate with the animal in order to get it to perform a certain task or respond to a command. This can help improve communication skills in general.
- Increased motivation: Animals can provide a sense of motivation for individuals who may be struggling with a particular task. For example, working with a therapy dog can provide motivation for individuals to get up and move around.
How is animal-assisted therapy used?
Animal-assisted therapy can be used in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Here are a few examples of how AAT is used:
- In hospitals: AAT can be used in hospitals to help patients cope with illness and pain. For example, therapy dogs may be brought in to visit patients in the hospital, which can help improve their mood and overall well-being.
- In schools: AAT can be used in schools to help students who may be struggling with behavioral or emotional issues. For example, therapy dogs may be brought in to help calm students who are experiencing anxiety.
- In nursing homes: AAT can be used in nursing homes to help improve the quality of life for residents. For example, therapy dogs may be brought in to visit with residents, which can help reduce feelings of loneliness and depression.
Animal-assisted therapy is a unique and effective form of therapy that can help improve the mental and physical health of individuals. The benefits of AAT are numerous, and it can be used in a variety of settings to help individuals achieve their therapeutic goals. If you’re interested in animal-assisted therapy, reach out to the intake team here at Mind Body Co-op to see if it could be right for you. We will begin offering animal-assisted therapy at our new location in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.