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

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

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

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

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, Licensed Professional Counselor in Pottstown, PA

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 animal assisted therapy for clients who want to experience another level of connection and comfort during their sessions. It’s a powerful addition to the therapy process to have the love and support of a therapy dog. Animal Assisted Therapy is only offered to those who feel comfortable with dogs and wish to have this type of treatment.

— Catherine Boyce, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Evanston, IL

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

Bringing therapy animals into therapeutic sessions allows you to explore and engage in the present moment. This approach provides opportunities to participate in relationships where the animals offer an insight and provide feedback to actions, behavior, energy, breathing, and language, both verbal and non-verbal. It deepens your awareness of contact styles and choices and responsibilities within relationships. Intimate moments emerge through non-verbal exchanges; assists in concepts, etc.

— Marcy Tocker, Counselor in Mohrsville, PA

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 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

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 (Chase) Tucker, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lakewood, CO