Animal Assisted Psychotherapy

Animal Assisted Psychotherapy (AAP) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAP is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

Animals play a critical role in helping people live healthy lives.  Animal-assisted therapy, activities and learning demonstrate how the human-animal bond can bring about deep and lasting social, emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological changes.

Research  shows that clients who work with animals can find therapy to be a less stressful  and a more enjoyable experience. During sessions the client gets to share the focus with the therapy dog, instead of feeling as though the spotlight is on them. During interventions with the dog, the therapist is able to observe how the client interacts with the animal, and make reflections on that interaction. There are times during therapy where the therapy dog is not actively involved in the intervention, however, the presence of the dog helps to reduce state anxiety – allowing the person to feel more comfortable and relaxed throughout their sessions.

For some clients, all that is needed is to have an animal present in the room for them to feel calmer and more open. This can be true for adults, couples and families, as well as with children and seniors. In addition to their presence, animals can be integrated to develop specific interventions, aimed at                                                                          meeting pre-determined therapeutic goals.

Animal Assisted Psychotherapy is provided by myself as a  trained therapist with my trained therapy animal within my professional’s “scope of experience” and “scope of practice”.* All activities conducted with Animal Assisted Psychotherapy are considered “therapeutic” in nature.  This is a modality of therapy which assists more traditional therapy styles and also is very complimentary to deeper and intensive work.  I have a  trained therapy dog available to attend therapy sessions at any time.

Some groups will have a therapy dog present, while other groups will not.

Informed Consent to Participate in Animal Assisted Therapy Interventions

Meet my canine therapy assistants:

Emmie – Alaskan Malamute. Born 6 July 2016

(From Left) Her first time in the office, Emmie November 2016, Emmie January 2017 in office.

Mzuri – Born 28 November 2022

(From Left) Mzuri & Emmie early 2023, Mzuri in training and Mzuri October 2023.