Sunday, August 23, 2009

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs are special. They visit nursing homes and hospitals. They bring smiles to folks who may need a reason to smile. These visits have come to be known as Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA).

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is even more. AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal becomes an integral part of the treatment process. AAT is designed to promote improvement in physical, social, emotional, and/or thinking and intellectual skills. AAT is provided in a variety of settings and may be group or individual in nature. The process is documented and evaluated. AAT is directed by a health/human service professional with specialized expertise and within the scope of practice of his or her profession. In AAT:
  • there are specified goals and objectives for each individual
  • progress is measured

Dogs (and other species) can be incorporated into a variety of programs. Following are typical AAT goals:

  • improve fine motor skills
  • improve wheelchair skills
  • improve standing balance
Mental Health
  • increase verbal interactions
  • increase attention skills like focusing and staying on task
  • develop leisure/recreation skills
  • increase self-esteem
  • reduce anxiety
  • reduce loneliness
  • increase vocabulary
  • aid in long- or short-term memory
  • improve knowledge of concepts such as size and color
  • improve willingness to be involved in a group activity
  • improve interactions others
  • increase exercise
Interested in therapy dog work? Join Murphy and me and the other members of Life's Journey Therapy Dogs. It's the best volunteer job ever! Contact me at for more information.

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