Animals have been human companions for many centuries providing a source of peace and calm to those around them; however the use of animals in a structured therapy environment is a fairly recent phenomenon. Animal therapy involves bringing animals into the healing process, which can has been proven effective in aiding many types of people. Whether it be a dog, cat, bird, rabbit, or even a horse, all types of animals can be trained to help the emotional and physical health of people in simple and extraordinary ways. The use of animal therapy with highly trained animals can benefit the emotional and physical health of a variety of people, including children, the elderly, and individuals with unique circumstances. Healing can take many different forms, such as companionship for a child, throwing a ball for a dog, students petting dogs before a test, or even simply stroking a soft animal.
Animal therapy is a newly researched form of healing. Animal therapy was established by the Delta Society in 1977 as an official way of providing therapy. The Delta Society was first organized as a way of helping the public based upon the fact that most people in the world knew that an animal could help them in some way, but, the Delta Society has continued to provide conclusive research and programs to prove the validity of using animals in therapy. For approximately 30 years, the organization has provided the official definitions for the two different animal therapy approaches. The two different programs are Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Activities.
The official definition of Animal Assisted Activities or (AAA), is by the Delta Society stated in Animal-Assisted Brief Therapy: A Solution-Focused Approach, which defines AAA as an event or social gathering that involves animals and requires a certified trainer who has both taught the animal and has received proper training. The activities can be used to benefit many different people and in a wide variation of activities, but are not tailored to one single person’s issues (Pichot and Coulter 15). Some examples of an Animal Assisted Activity are bringing dogs into a school classroom, going to a public park with therapy animals, having trained dogs visit children in a hospital, or any event involving a trained animal. The benefits can be extraordinary with an activity using animals, but can be inadequately suited for a person who may be extremely stressed in public events or someone who does not thrive with overwhelming excitement of a public event. These types of individuals would be better accommodated in a one-on-one therapy session with an animal present.
These types of individuals in a private therapy situation are using the other type of animal therapy which is officially called Animal Assisted Therapy or (AAT). Animal Assisted Therapy is tailored to a single person in a meeting with a therapy professional with the aid and assistance of an animal. The animal, which is usually a dog, is used to treat...