Animal Assisted Therapy Mari Evans, M.Ed, LPC, NCC, CSC, AAT-C TWITR Project Lead Texas Tech University Health Science Center Private Practioner
Mari Evans, M.Ed, LPC, NCC, CSC, AAT-C • Amateur dog trainer/Foundation dog • Teacher with inclusion students/11 years • Petitioner/Advocate • Animals in the classroom/Documentation • School Counselor/eleven years • Certification and License • Animals in sessions • Integration of medical/behavioral science
Boudin and Jackson…Elvis? • ASCA Registered/AKC/TDIAOV • TDI Registered and Insured • Eleven/Two years experience • Bred and raised by Two or More Kennels • Breed Standard, Character and Temperament ---Physical Characteristics • Training • Socialization • Bidability/Eye
Definitions • Animal-Assisted Activities • Goal directed guided activities that utilize the human/animal bond. • Therapeutic activities may or may not be facilitated by a credentialed therapist. • Animals and helpers must be screened and trained. • Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling-AAT-C • Goal directed guided interventions as an integral part of the treatment process. • Working animals and their handlers must be screened, trained and meet specific criteria. • A credentialed therapist sets goals, guides interventions, measures and evaluates the process. • AAT may be billed third party payors.----?
Technique/Theory • AAT is not a theory. The therapist operates from personal foundations to facilitate change in the client. • AAT may be used as a technique and it is through the client’s interactions with the animal that the therapist obtains information and then devises further goals or activities to enhance change. • AAT sessions may be individuals or groups • AAT relies on the therapist’s skill to design personalized interventions, meet treatment goals and assess the clients needs. • Standards for ethical practice include the rights of the animal including humane treatment and protections from undue stress.
Rationale How does animal assisted therapy work?
Emotional Safety If the therapist has an animal with him/her, the environment and power structure have been changed. The therapist is perceived as more human and likeable. The animal’s presence can open a pathway through initial resistance. People have something to talk about that is safe and pleasant and may project feelings and experiences onto the animal.
Relationship • A client may not relate well to humans, but may relate to an animal. A client may feel unloved, unwanted and rejected by humans, or may be unable to express affection. An animal, used in a therapeutic situation can be a source of love and companionship and an object toward which a person can direct love and concern. A client may feel free to be themselves rather to perform in a socially acceptable manner. • A client may respond to a sense of unconditional positive regard from the animal.
Limit setting and consequences A client can learn that there are limits within which he/she must behave with the animal, and thus the rest of the world. An animal’s behavior quickly shows a response to a client’s stimulus. The animal’s response can be generalized to people’s responses and the client’s feelings about the circumstances can be processed.
Attachment Many mental health clients are isolated from people; an animal can offer an relationship less threatening than a relationship with people. Trust issues involving human interaction are not carried into animal/human interaction. Some clients will willingly and immediately open up to an animal with a trust level never experienced in human to human interaction.
Depression • Studies conducted using clients who were clinically depressed using the BDI showed significant improvement in animal assisted therapy compared with a control group. • The positive effects of pet facilitated therapy were not demonstrated when clients were shown only photographs of pets by the same trained volunteers with identical treatment goals.
Grief and Loss Because the human/animal bond can be so powerful, the breaking of that attachment can be tremendously damaging. The first losses many clients experience are those of their pets, which remain primarily unresolved. Clients link up with an animal in the therapeutic environment and it frequently brings up tearfulness and feelings of loss and abandonment and leads to abreaction.
Reality orientation An animal can act as a link between a client’s internal fantasies and external reality. The animal can connect the client to the here and now and make it an enjoyable experience.
Pleasure , Affection andAppropriate Touch • It is socially acceptable for men as well as women to touch, caress and hug an animal. • Touching an animal is client oriented and it is safe, non-threatening and pleasant. • The client may give and receive affection from an animal. • Clients may learn new ways of touching. • Clients that have been sexually abused feel safe and able to express appropriate affection to an animal.
Socialization • An animal is something safe to talk about. Animals can be a catalyst to social interaction, connections for interpersonal communication and attachment. • An animal can encourage socialization in four ways; between client and therapist, between clients, between clients and staff and between clients and family or visitors.
Play and Laughter • Clients often laugh while watching animals and they can learn how to play by watching and interacting with animals. • Object lessons about compassion and relationships can utilize the animal in personification, pretending and role play.
Anxiety • An animal can divert the client’s attention away from his/her internal anxiety, allowing the therapist to nurture alternative functional responses to anxiety. An animal can reduce a client’s discomfort, act as a distraction and shut out reactions to adverse stimuli.
Physiological Responses • Lower Blood Pressure • Lower Heart Rate • Reduce Stress Related Illnesses • Reduce Depression Symptoms • Reduce Anxiety Symptoms • Reduce Heart Disease Risks • Benefits begin between 5 and 24 minutes after the start of the interaction. • Dogs experience same physiological effects
Mental Health Applications • Reduces loneliness and isolation • Develops nurturing behaviors • Encourages adjustment • Increased social and verbal interactions • Preventative and therapeutic measures against everyday stress • Enhanced cognitive development in children • Encourages prosocial behaviors and less self-absorption
Assessment Facilitation • Initial Intake and Case Management • Behavior Management and Interventions • Denver Development • Psychological Evaluations • CHAT-Autism • Screenings for Depression, Mania, Psychosis, Anxiety, Etc.
Typical AAT Counseling Session • AAT, in individual counseling, can be used as a technique or adjunct tool during a typical individual or group counseling session. A nondirective therapist may introduce the therapy pet to the client and explain that petting or playing with the animal is a standing invitation. A directive therapist may build in a few minutes at the beginning or the end of the session and invite the client to interact with the animal with a specific goal in mind. Children in therapy may choose to interact with the animal by talking to it and personifying human characteristics on the animal, a safe object in which to project their feelings. An emotional dog will often sense discomfort or a need for reassurance from an individual and sit closer, rest their head on a knee, put their head on a lap or feet and offer physical contact. • AAT, in group counseling, can incorporate directive or nondirective therapeutic style depending on the therapist and/or the nature of the group and goals. Interventions may be specific and structured or simply have the pet in the room for voluntary client interaction. A unique aspect is that the facilitator can reflect how the pet enhances the formation of cohesion, role development, competition and potential dynamics in the group. An emotional dog will often go to the member in the most need at any given time and bolster confidence and support allowing the therapist to reinforce that need within the group. • The basic listening responses of a therapist of reflection, paraphrase, clarify and summarize can be enhanced as the therapist observes the reactions of their co-therapist, most dogs demonstrate a keen intuition in their relations with others. • The client’s interactions with and reactions to the pet can provide extremely useful information about the client’s emotional state, attitude and relational style and ability • There is no typical session and the mode of therapy depends on: • The therapist’s preferred style • The wants and needs of the client • The therapy animal’s abilities
How Do I Become a Animal Assisted Therapist?
The Right Animal • Research breeds that interest you. • Find a reputable breeder/adoption center • Socialize----Socialize----Socialize • Training: Obedience, Canine Good Citizen, Therapy Dog • Facilities for Practice
Steps to Becoming A Therapy Dog • Dog must know basic obedience commands (sit, down, stay, heal, come). Dogs must have excellent temperament with people and other dogs. Dogs must be one year old. • Dogs must have current vaccinations and license. Dogs must have yearly physical. • Dogs must pass Canine Good Citizen and Temperament Test administered by certified Therapy Dog International evaluator. • Dogs will receive harness, nametag and yellow I.D. tag when working. Dogs must be well groomed and clean for all visits. TDI offers $1,000,000 of liability insurance for licensed dogs
AKC CGC TEST/TDI REQUIREMENTS • Accepting a Friendly Stranger - This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The Evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the Evaluator. • Sitting Politely for Petting - This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. The dog should sit at the handler’s side as the Evaluator approaches and begins to pet the dog on the head and the body only. The dog may stand in place to accept petting. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.
Appearance and Grooming - This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or friend of the owner to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The Evaluator inspects the dog, then combs or brushes the dg and lightly examines the ears and each front foot. • Out for a Walk (Walking on a loose leash) - This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog can be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers. There must be a left turn, a right turn and an about turn, with a least one stop in between and another at the end.
Walking Through a Crowd - This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog must pass close to several people without appearing over exuberant, shy or resentful. The dog must not strain on the leash. • Sit and Down On Command/Staying in Place - This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down, and will remain in the place commanded by the handler. When instructed by the Evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of a 20 foot line. The dog must remain in place.
Coming When Called - This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will put the dog in a “stay” and walk 10 feet from the dog, turn and face the dog, and call the dog. The dog must come without hesitation. • Reaction to Another Dog - This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 10 yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 5 yards. The dogs should show no more than a casual interest in each other.
Reactions to Distractions - This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations, such as the dropping of a large book or a jogger running in front of the dog. The dog may express a natural interest and curiosity and appear slightly startled, but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness or bark. • Reaction to Medical Equipment - The dog should be tested around medical equipment (such as wheelchair, crutches, cane, walker, or other devices which would ordinarily be found in a facility) to judge the dog’s reaction to common health care equipment.
Leave It - The handler with the dog on a loose lead walks past food on the ground (placed within a distance of three feet) and, upon command, the dog should ignore the food. • Acclimation To Infirmities - This test demonstrates the dog’s confidence when exposed to people walking with an uneven gait, shuffling, breathing heavily, coughing, wheezing or other distractions which may be encountered in a facility.
Supervised Separation - This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain its training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog must not show nervousness or agitation. • Say Hello - The TDI Certified Evaluator will test the willingness of each dog to visit a person and that the dog is willing for petting and can be easily reached. Dogs are tested on a buckle collar only!
Contact Information • Mari Evans • 3417 F.M. 597 • Abernathy, Texas 79311 • Work Phone: 743-7489 • Cell Phone: 790-4742 • firstname.lastname@example.org