What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

By Leah Brignall

If you have looked at the profiles of our team members on our website, you may have noticed that there is a dog on the list! Dr. Sheri Clark offers Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for no additional fee. Dogtor Ridley is the sweet German Shepard who you might see in our office. But what is AAT? According to this website: “Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is the use of animals as a therapeutic tool to assist a person in restoring balance to their life.”

In our office, people who are struggling with depression and anxiety, or people who just love dogs, often find that having Ridley in their sessions is helpful. She can help them to feel calm and comforted. But having an animal in the room is not only beneficial for those reasons. The Melmed Center has listed some of the other benefits of participating in AAT:
–  Develop rapport and reduce the stigma associated with therapy
–  Reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms
–  Improve self-esteem
–  Increase empathy
–  Assist with attachment struggles
–  Promote social skill development
–  Improve social competence
–  Reduce feelings of loneliness and/ or social isolation
–  Improve coping skills
–  Assist with sensory needs and cognitive development
–  Improve awareness of personal space and self-care practices
–  Impart a calming effect that can decrease blood pressure and heart rate
–  Provide tactile and mental stimulation
–  Provide an alternate form of therapy for nonverbal children

So if you are a dog lover, or if you think that having an animal in therapy might be beneficial for you, call us to make an appointment with Dr. Clark and Ridley! To learn more about Animal Assisted Therapy, check out this post. If you would like to read more about Miss Ridley herself, you can find her profile here. If you have any questions feel free to contact us!