About Animal Assisted Activities and Animal Assisted Therapy
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
The formal definition of animal-assisted therapy is:"AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is directed and/or delivered by a health/human service professional with specialized expertise, and within the scope of practice of his/her profession.
AAT is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning [cognitive functioning refers to thinking and intellectual skills]. AAT is provided in a variety of settings and may be group or individual in nature. This process is documented and evaluated." (From Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy)
The Key Features of AAT:
Improve fine motor skills.
Improve wheelchair skills.
Improve standing balance.
Increase verbal interactions between group members.
Increase attention skills (i.e., paying attention, staying on task).
Develop leisure/recreation skills.
Increase vocabulary. Aid in long- or short-term memory.
Improve knowledge of concepts such as size, color, etc.
Improve willingness to be involved in a group activity.
Improve interactions with others.
Improve interactions with staff.
Animal Assisted Activities (AAA)
The formal definition of Animal-Assisted Activities is:"AAA provides opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life. AAA are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, paraprofessionals, and/or volunteers, in association with animals that meet specific criteria." (from Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy)
What does this really mean?
Animal-assisted activities are basically the casual "meet and greet" activities that involve pets visiting people. The same activity can be repeated with many people, unlike a therapy program that is tailored to a particular person or medical condition.
The Key Features of AAA: