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LR22 D Hand Petting Snow the Cat

Art by Luna Rose

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is the use of animals for therapeutic purposes. People may find time spent with animals to be comforting and enjoyable.

Delta Society defines Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) as "a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning." AAT is provided for a group or individuals. Whenever AAT is held, therapists must document records and evaluate each participant's progress .

Many kinds of animals could be used such as dogs, cats, birds, horses, dolphins, rabbits, lizards, and other small animals.

AAT provides physical, mental, educational, and motivational effectiveness for participants.

AAT and children[]

AAT with older adults[]

Main article: Animal-assisted therapy with older adults

Benefits of AAT[]

People who have access to animals benefit in various ways, for example:

  • comfort of physical contact with animals,
  • reducing loneliness, and
  • increased opportunities for meeting others, via their pets.
  • caring for pets encourages nurturance, *caring for pets encourages responsibility and
  • adherence to a daily schedule (See activity scheduling

Other benefits include:


  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Improve wheelchair skills
  • Improve standing balance

Mental Health


  • Increase vocabulary
  • Aid in long- or short-term memory
  • Improve knowledge of concepts such as size, color, etc.


  • Improve willingness to be involved in a group activity
  • Improve interactions with others
  • Improve interactions with staff

Benefits in mental health[]

In psychosis, AAT has been found to be associated with significant improvement in the hedonic tone of people with schizophrenia, with improved motivation and interest in rewarding activities as well as better use of leisure time.[1]

See also[]


  1. Nathans-Barel, I., P. Feldman, B. Berger, I. Modai and H. Silver (2005). Animal-assisted therapy ameliorates anhedonia in schizophrenia patients. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 74 (1): 31-35.

Further reading[]

Learning More, (2006). Aqua Thought Foundation. Retrieved April 9, 2006.

Oakley, Dawn., and Bardin, Gail., The Potential Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy for Children With Special Needs. Retrieved April 9, 2006.

Howie, Ann R., (2000). The Human-Animal Health Connection Pet Partners Team Training Course Manual 5th Ed. Delta Society, Renton, WA.

External links[]

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