I know of no animal lover that would be surprised by this following statement: AAT (or Animal Assisted Therapy) can lend itself to being a big contributor with a lot of positive results when treating problems in children that deal with emotional, social, physical, or cognitive issues. This has been proven time and time again. Even teachers use animals in the classroom to help children with the skills they need in life.
Adults have been documented on numerous occasions with a reduction in pain severity as well as anxiety through the use of animal assisted therapy. There is also a massive amount of evidence that supports animal visitations and their benefits for children that are suffering with mental or physical trauma. There is still a long ways to go when it comes to collecting the evidence of this and measuring the results.
So far, though, we have seen great results with children who are hospitalized becoming more and more independent, having less fear of their treatment or experience, a reduction in pain, and having much better appetites than those not receiving the AAT. There have been many autistic children that have shown a huge improvement with the presence of a therapy dog also.
Therapy dogs, like most all working animals, seem to love the work they do, so it’s a win win situation! They are very happy when they are around their people and love the petting, the fawning, and all of the attention. Yes, I know, such a hard “job” for them to work at! It is certainly an arrangement that is mutually beneficial!
Animal assisted therapy is one of the finest examples of the human and animal bond that we have. This is a quickly growing field of study that we are certain will continue to yield many more benefits as it is explored even further.