Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
Evidence-based practice shows that Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) has the ability to reduce blood pressure and release oxytocin that leads to enhance empathy, compassion, and mindfulness. Petting any animal for at least ten minutes has proven to reduce stress, increase physical activity, strengthen clear communication, lower social anxiety, improve self-confidence, and build skills for successful vocational and academic goals.
Participants are empowered to address problem behaviors as they learn to work with animals in a safe and healthy way, grooming, feeding, and leading the animals around the farm. The animal is a tool or a bridge that allows the therapist to connect with each participant as an individual to meet their unique therapeutic goals.
Working with a variety of small animals and learning how each animal is different allows individuals to increase tolerance and problem-solving skills as they discover what works for one animal may not work for another. This experience can improve the participant’s critical thinking and problem solving skills as he or she learns to see things from the animal’s perspective, as well as empathy and understanding of nonverbal cues. Participants will improve frustration tolerance as they see that the animal relies on their calm demeanor. Trained AAT clinicians utilize animals to teach life skills, develop confidence, and improve coping strategies, which enhances the participant’s ability to have meaningful relationships and ensures a better quality of life. Participants work with pets and small farmyard animals, such as:
- other herd animals
Rhyme & Reason’s Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is designed for anyone seeking to benefit from AAT modalities, including people with a developmental disability or mental health diagnosis, those suffering with grief and loss, anyone with a trauma history of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and patients with acute or chronic diseases.
What Does a Typical AAT Session Look Like?
Participants spend approximately 50-75% of their time in each session working directly with the animal. The remaining 25-50% focuses on processing activities, which allows both the participant and the therapist to hone in on individualized goals and assess for the effectiveness of the treatment plan.
In the initial session, participants learn to identify the animal’s language and how to respectfully approach the animal. Participants work on the initial skills of handling the animal to ensure that a trusting bond will occur between the participant and the animal.
Petting and grooming helps participants overcome their own trepidation as well as build a bonding relationship with the animal. once this goal has been achieved, participants will then be able to co-lead the animal and, eventually, move to leading that animal on their own. Each action step in the treatment plan is thoughtfully executed by expert therapists.
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