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Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

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Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
Many programs developed for adolescents and young adults in treatment provide opportunities to form a bond with an animal, take responsibility for its care, and experience empathy and nonthreatening affection. Animals elicit a wide range of emotion and behaviors especially in human children (Hanselman 2001) concluded that Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) “increased feelings of happiness, security, and self-worth, and reduced feelings of loneliness, isolation, and stress” among a group of adolescents in an anger management group. Santana’s (1994) work with children receiving AAT showed that the children demonstrated improved mood and reduced levels of depression. Beck and Meyers (1996) also provided evidentiary support that through the interactions …show more content…
Helping veterans successfully reintegrate into civilian life has become a focus of both the military and private psychological services, as well as other community-based groups (Lanning and Krenek, 2003). One specific intervention that incorporates fellow veterans and leader support in the treatment is the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International Equine Services for Heroes program (known as the Horses for Heroes program). This unique program includes a horse as part of the treatment, with the goal to help wounded military service personnel and veterans improve both physically and mentally (Lanning and Krenek 2003). The mere exposure to positive, nonthreatening social interaction with fellow veterans and therapeutic riding instructors may provide an atmosphere of comfort and social support for the participants. When the participants were asked about how working with a horse was different than working with other therapists, they used terms such as “nonjudgmental,” “no expectations,” and “compassion” to describe the horse (Lanning and Krenek …show more content…
However, limited studies have been conducted in the veteran population and even less so in the pediatric population, with many articles anecdotal in nature. Primary outcome variables of decreased anxiety and pain are the most commonly reported results among both populations (Wedge, 2012). For example, although, it is thought that equine assisted therapy may be especially valuable for adults and children with autism spectrum disorders, few scholars have defined the theoretical bases of hippotherapy for adults with intellectual disabilities and even less about how psychological, physical, social and educational benefits can be achieved through hippotherapy with children with intellectual disabilities. Also, though hippotherapy treatment has been demonstrated to have therapeutic effects on children with cerebral palsy, the samples used in research studies have been very small. Further research studies are required to include the effects of AAT with children with different diseases, diagnoses and animal

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