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Animal Assisted Therapy

Animals have long been known to provide therapeutic benefits for people of all walks of life. Today, studies are showing the therapeutic effects animals can have when coping with mental and medical difficulties. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is the use of animals to aid in the treatment and intervention of therapy services. Some of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) include:

  • Increased exercise

  • Stronger immunity

  • Improved focus and attention

  • Increased self-esteem and self-care skills

  • Decreased anxiety, grief, anger and isolation

  • Decreased blood pressure, depression and heart attack risk

There is a wide range of diagnoses that can benefit from animal-assisted therapy including but not limited to autism spectrum disorder, medical conditions, TBI’s, ADHD, mental health disorders and behavioral/emotional difficulties. AAT can be included into different disciplines of therapy practice such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. It can also be seen in settings for individuals across the lifespan including mental health settings, nursing homes, hospitals, inpatient/outpatient facilities, oncology services, long/short term facilities and pediatric settings. Some of the animals used for AAT are dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and birds, with dogs being the most commonly seen.

Local and Austin area animal therapy services:

1. Therapy Pet Pals of Texas, Inc

2. ROCK (Ride on Center for Kids)


Nimer, J. & Lundahl, B. (2015). Animal-assisted therapy: A meta-analysis. Anthrozoos, 20(3), 225-238. Doi: 10.2752/089279307X224773

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