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Big bullet   Advantages of AAT

One major advantage with animal-assisted therapy is that the therapist can use one therapy pet to help a client achieve a variety of physical as well as psychological goals together in one therapy session -- something that is not always possible with other treatment modalities. For example, when therapy dog Spice works with a physically challenged client she not only helps him improve his fine and gross motor skills, she also helps alleviate his feelings of loneliness and depression due to his disability.

Animal-assisted therapy serves as an effective icebreaker with withdrawn and uncooperative clients. Such clients tend to see the therapist as more friendly if there is a therapy pet present in the room. This helps the therapist make a breakthrough. Having an animal present also serves as a strong motivator for continuing with the therapy.

Therapy dog Angel and Rohini Fernandes work with a physically challenged client to help improve fine and gross motor skills

Studies have shown stroking an animal reduces blood pressure and heart rate. Thus a therapy animal's warm and playful presence lowers anxiety and increases comfort levels in a client. This makes them more relaxed and co-operative in therapy.

Interaction with animals helps in bringing individuals out of their world into ours. This is especially useful for clients with autism or psychiatric illnesses who are so involved in their own world that they do not pay much attention to the present situation. Having a dog nudging his nose into their hands or waiting eagerly for them to throw the ball makes them focus on the present. They start talking about the animal and watch him play rather than just thinking about themselves and their problems. Thus therapy animals encourage interaction between client-therapist, client and the outside world.

Therapy animals have a way of accepting people without qualification. They don't care how a person looks or what they say. An animal's acceptance is non-judgmental and unconditional. When a client gets such unconditional love from an animal they give better responses during therapy.

Having a soft, furry animal to stroke and hug is therapeutic to clients who are not comfortable being touched by people.

Receiving unconditional love and affection from an animal can teach clients especially children to develop nurturing skills, which they might not have had the opportunity to learn from people.

Watching a pet jump around and play can be relaxing and fun even to people who don't like animals. So the mere presence of a therapy pet can lighten the atmosphere in a room.


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