Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Advocates state that animals can be useful for educational and motivational effectiveness for participants. A therapist who brings along a pet may be viewed as being less threatening, increasing the rapport between patient and therapist. Animals used in therapy include domesticated pets, farm animals and marine mammals (such as dolphins). The research literature states concerns about the poor quality of medical evidence underpinning
One biophilia hypothesis is our attachment to and interest in animals stems from the strong possibility that human survival was partly dependent on signals from animals in the environment indicating safety or threat. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that now, if we see animals at rest or in a peaceful state, this may signal to us safety, security and feelings of well-being which in turn may trigger a state where personal change and healing are possible.
There are many types of AAT ranging from the use of dogs, to cats, even to small animals such as fish and hamsters. The most popular forms of AAT include Canine therapy, Dolphin therapy, and Equine therapy.
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“Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression: a meta-analysis” (Critical abstract). NHS National Institute for Health Research. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2015. “This review found some empirical support for the therapeutic effectiveness of dog-assisted activities/therapy for treating depression. The authors’ conclusions should be regarded with caution, given the poor reporting of review methods, the lack of quality assessment and the paucity of primary data” citing Souter
MA, Miller MD (2007). “Do Animal-Assisted Activities Effectively Treat Depression? A Meta-Analysis”. Anthrozoös: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals 20 (2): 167–180. doi:10.2752/175303707X207954. ISSN 0892-7936.
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O’Haire ME (2013). “Animal-assisted intervention for autism spectrum disorder: a systematic literature review”. J Autism Dev Disord (Systematic review) 43 (7): 1606–22. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1707-5. PMID 23124442. “findings in the current review should not be interpreted as evidence of the benefits of AAI for ASD; instead, they offer preliminary support for the concept of AAI, which must be replicated in larger scale, more rigorous research if it is to become a validated intervention technique for ASD.”
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[unreliable medical source?]Lefkowitz, C.; Paharia, I.; Prout, M.; Debiak, D.; Bleiberg, J. (2005). “Animal assisted prolonged exposure: A treatment for survivors of sexual assault suffering posttraumatic stress disorder”. Society Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies 13: 275–295. doi:10.1163/156853005774653654.
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