More than simply spending time with an animal, Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a therapist-guided experience designed to improve a patient’s mental, physical, social and emotional functioning through interactions with an animal. At Nature’s Edge, our therapy animals include dogs, cats, a donkey, and a llama, pot-bellied pigs, a parrot and a sheep, each chosen for their characteristics and contributions in relation to the patient’s specific goals.
For example, a patient with difficulty in the areas of concentration, communication, and fine motor control will be encouraged to pay attention to a story. The patient is then introduced to a parrot and will take turns with the parrot, repeating specific words and turning pages, as directed by the therapist.
Many aspects of speech, occupational and physical therapy can be enhanced through animal assistance. Patients form complete sentences by greeting and conversing with animals; they sequence actions by giving commands to them. They read to them and practice directional concepts. They walk with them, run and jump with them or throw toys for them to retrieve, gaining motor skills. They learn about healthy eating by feeding and treating them and about hygiene by bathing them and even brushing their teeth. They talk about bullying, timidity or trust with animal companions, observing animal interactions as examples. They brush our animals and stroke and hold them, increasing sensory tolerance.
Each animal-assisted therapy session is documented and the patient’s progress is evaluated on an ongoing basis.
What are the benefits of animal-assisted therapy?
- Improved fine motor skills
- Improved wheelchair skills
- Improved balance
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased verbal interaction
- Increased attention skills
- Development of leisure skills
- Increased self-esteem
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced loneliness
- Increased vocabulary
- Improved long- and short-term memory
- Improved knowledge of concepts, such as size, color, etc.
Wisconsin specialists in animal-assisted therapy
We encourage you to contact us at Nature’s Edge to learn more about our Wisconsin animal-assisted therapy services!