Boris Levinson was the first to draw attention to the role of animals in therapy when he documented that many of his child clients that were withdrawn and uncommunicative would respond positively and interact when his dog, Jingles, was present (Netting, New, & Wilson, 1987). Since that time, AAT has been implemented worldwide and has been shown to be effective in many therapy programs. Animal-assisted therapy has been very effective with children and has been implemented into school and residential programs. However, most of the reported successes come in the form of case studies and personal anecdotes (Fawcett & Gullone, 2001) and are lacking empirical evidence.
AAT is useful in all therapy programs because animals can serve as a catalyst to conversation (Netting, et al., 1987). For this reason, Corson et al. (as cited in Netting, et al., 1987) refer to the animal as a social lubricant. An animal is useful as an icebreaker (Missel,2001) to begin interactions with the therapist and the client. Animal-assisted therapy has also demonstrated its usefulness in stress reduction and alleviation of depression (Castro,