What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is an integral part of the treatment process.  AAT is directed and/or delivered and documented by a health/human service professional with a specific clinical goal for a particular individual in mind.  According to Animal-Assisted Therapy–Therapeutic Interventions, AAT is not a style of therapy, like rational-emotive therapy, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, etc.  Instead, a therapist who utilizes AAT operates from his/her professional foundation and facilitates change in a client through the client’s interactions with an animal.  Physical therapists, occupational therapists, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, recreational therapists, teachers, social workers, and others can incorporate AAT into their work and treatments in a multitude of ways.

Animal-assisted activities (AAA) also provide social, motivational, educational, and/or recreational benefits for people during interactions. These activities do not have to be overseen by healthcare professionals and do not work toward particular clinical goals.  AAA often occurs in meet-and-greet sessions in a variety of settings and can be administered in groups or with individuals.



Can I be involved with AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) even if I am not a healthcare professional?


Yes.  Visiting handler-animal teams are the most common source of therapy animals as they work with healthcare professionals and clients during therapy sessions.  In these cases, the volunteer handler and the healthcare professional work as a treatment team as the handler has the responsibility of managing the animal while the therapist works toward the individualized treatment goals.  This is a very effective way to utilize AAT since the therapist can focus on the treatment and the handler can utilize the use of his/her animal.




Where do WAGS Ambassador teams visit?


WAGS Ambassador teams visit a multitude of facilities in and around the Kentuckiana area.  Nursing homes, hospitals, detention centers and rehabilitation centers are just a few of the services where our visiting Ambassador teams frequent. For a complete listing of the facilities, click on About Us/Places We Visit on this website.