What is animal-assisted therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy is conducted by occupational therapists, nurses, counselors, or social workers. These are goal-directed therapeutic intervention plans that promote physical, cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, and/or emotional functioning. Again, the provider is educated and licensed. OTs are licensed, work within their scope of practice, and have specialized continuing education. Finally, the process is evaluated and documented. Figure 1 is an example of a dog doing animal-assisted therapy.
Figure 1. Example of a girl in animal-assisted therapy.
The therapist is trained to be in this environment, with a specific population, and work on individual goals. Her goals might be sensory integration, motor planning, body awareness, et cetera.