Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is an experiential treatment method that involves clients interacting with animals, which could include dogs, horses, cats, or birds, among others. AAT has been used to treat issues including ADD, abuse, depression, anxiety, drug abuse, eating disorders, and more. AAT can take different forms. Depending on the animal, in animal assisted therapy, a client might keep a dog, cat, or other pet at home for emotional support. If you are staying in a residential treatment facility, such as a hospital or a rehab center, a trained therapy animal might visit you. Or, during a session, a client may groom, feed or walk the horse while the therapist observes the clients' reactions to the horse's behavior (known as equine assisted therapy). Therapists that utilize AAT often believe that animals provide comfort and calm as well as instant and accurate feedback of a client's thoughts and feelings, which can help both the therapist and client become more aware of these emotions. Animals are nonjudgmental, which can help clients connect with another living being that accepts them – making it easier to learn to trust, and easing the path into having trusting relationships with other people. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s AAT specialists today.

Meet the specialists

Alpha is my AAT. He is a third generation therapy dog and a pure bred King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. He wants nothing more than to play or comfort you. Just let him know.

— Grace Nyblade, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Olney, MD
 

I utilize a certified facility dog from Canine Companions for Independence. You can learn more about him by visiting my website www.drnanciespector.com

— Dr. Nancie Spector, Clinical Psychologist in NEW CANAAN, CT
 

If you’re nervous about coming in and talking to a therapist, you’re not alone. If you find yourself feeling this, animal-assisted therapy can be a great way to help you feel more at ease. Many of my clients love working with Rockstar the therapy dog, as they can pet him to self-soothe, look at him instead of me, or use him as a distractor to let themselves talk about challenging emotions or events. He'll be happy to meet you!

— Steffanie Grossman, Psychologist in Dallas, TX

I have a 5 year old Weimarainer that has been trained as a Therapy Dog by Pets for Life. He has also been trained as a Certified Therapy Dog by Canine Speciality Training, LLC. He has worked with me of over 3 years. He spent over a year at CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Agency) in Independence, MO, and loved working with the children and families there before following me into private practice. Feel free to stop by and say "hi" to Fynn and he will give you lots of kisses!

— Kay Hamilton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Overland Park, KS
 

I have completed Animal Assisted Therapy training, and am in process of finding the right rescue dog to train as a therapy dog to bring to my practice!

— Stephanie Carlin, Licensed Professional Counselor in Fort Collins, CO

Got Your Six Counseling Services, PLLC welcomes Cammi, our therapy dog, to the team! Cammi is a Boxer who loves to help clients work through difficult situations with love and snuggles.

— Christina Rock, Counselor in Dumfries, VA
 

For the past 9 years I have incorporated pet therapy in my practice with the help of my yellow lab, Jolie. Pet therapy has been shown to reduce stress, increase rapport and help clients become more cognizant of emotional reactions and support resiliency in individual and group sessions. Jolie is certified as a Canine Good Citizen. She is calm, kind and very loving but if you are allergic or prefer for her to not be part of your session we can discuss those options.

— Gloria Hatfield, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

I offer Animal Assisted Play Therapy to children to help with a variety of issues, including low self esteem, depression, anxiety, attention and learning difficulties, and poor social skills, to name a few. It primarily focuses on the child's strengths while also addressing his or her life challenges. While all of my therapy during the Covid-19 crisis is provided online, this particular form of therapy needs to be done in the office. I will resume offering it once it is safe to do so.

— Lisabeth wotherspoon, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Rochester, NH
 

I have a 5 year old Weimarainer that accompanies me to work. He is trained as a Therapy Animal with Pets for Life. He is also trained as a Certified Service Dog with Canine Speciality Training, LLC. He has been working with me for over 3 years. He spent over a year working with me at CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Agency) in Independence, MO, before coming with me into private practice. Come in and say "hi" to Fynn anytime! He will welcome you with lots of kisses.

— Kay Hamilton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Overland Park, KS

Spending time with a therapy dog can produce a number of mental health benefits, from enhanced relaxation to reduced stress and anxiety. Therapy dogs are carefully selected dogs that undergo intense, individualized training. Research has shown that spending just 12 minutes with a therapy dog can lower anxiety by 24% and reduce levels of the stress hormone epinephrine by 17%. I have personally experienced the benefits a therapy dog can provide. As a result, I chose to certify my mixed breed dog.

— Lani Chin, Clinical Psychologist in Monterey, CA
 

When doing therapy, I often relate back to animals and how they function in their own world. Do animals have anxiety and to what extent do they have anxiety? Why is anxiety chronic in humans but not in wild animals? When it comes down to it, humans are animals and if we look at animals behavior, we can often help explain our own behavior and get back to our natural instincts.

— Chelsea Tucker, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lakewood, CO

For the past 9 years I have incorporated pet therapy in my practice with the help of my yellow lab, Jolie. Pet therapy has been shown to reduce stress, increase rapport and help clients become more cognizant of emotional reactions and support resiliency in individual and group sessions. Jolie is certified as a Canine Good Citizen. She is calm, kind and very loving but if you are allergic or prefer for her to not be part of your session we can discuss those options.

— Gloria Hatfield, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

I have 6 dogs so when I say having a animal around to talk to helps it is the truth.

— Kaylissa Butrum, Psychiatrist in danville, IN
 

AAT can provide benefits to anyone, whether you're living with anxiety, depression, trauma-related concerns, or attachment. With the help of my trained professional therapy canine, I facilitate relationship-building, teamwork, confidence, self-awareness, mindfulness, and playfulness. Who doesn't love having a furry friend to comfort and support you? My dog and I have been a therapy team for one year and he loves it. Please ask me questions about this!

— Mackenzie Howshar, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Fort Collins, CO

I have a therapy dog in training, Franklin, a large Labradoodle, who is frequently with me in session to provide comfort and support. Franklin loves pets, especially if you sit on the floor with him, and clients enjoy having him lay with them while processing feelings. Franklin is also in training, so he loves to do tricks and tasks for treats. This helps clients develop problem solving, planning and frustration tolerance skills along with having fun.

— Courtney Hart, Clinical Social Worker in Havre de Grace, MD
 

I am the founder of the American Association of Animal-Assisted Therapy and love working with my dogs.

— Martin Wesley, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Equines are a mirror to our heart and soul. They behave as we do, when we behave in certain ways. How we put ourselves out there to others is directly given back by the horse. This, therefore, shows us how others see us. We cope, gain confidence, and see a tangible explanation of trauma, grief, death and loss, and how to overcome the systems within us that keep us down.

— Jennifer Wolf, Psychotherapist in Colorado Springs, CO
 

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is an effective treatment for easing depression, soothing anxiety, and improving emotional well-being. It is especially good for people struggling with major changes or stressors in their lives. Benji is a sweet-tempered hound who loves to cuddle and play. When I saw how positively clients responded to him, I decided to earn a certification in AAT and get him formal training. Together we create a warm, playful environment that encourages change and healing.

— Annalisa Smithson, Therapist in Pottstown, PA

I have a certified professional canine co-therapist, Moxey, CBD, CBD- A and use her in individual therapy. I received my certification and AASW credentials on August 25,2019.

— Ada Brosier, Clinical Social Worker in Rockford, MI

Meet my rescue Gracie! She takes her job very seriously and enjoys meeting and greeting new clients!

— Marci Orr, Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, TX