Animal-assisted therapy improves patients’ mental, physical, social and emotional functioning with the aid of animals. Depending on the needs of the patient, many different animals can be used in therapy, including alpacas, dogs, sheep, rabbits and other animals.
Animal-assisted therapy takes place in a variety of settings, including on site farms, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental health facilities. This form of treatment can take place individually or in groups, and is led by a qualified therapist or professional with specialized expertise.
Much more than simply spending time with an animal, animal-assisted therapy involves specific therapeutic goals, strategies and outcomes are measured. Therapeutic experiences can include walking, petting and caring for an animal, as well as processing the experience of trying to achieve a given task.