What do I need to know about Animal Assisted Therapy?

animal assisted therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a new term for me.  I imagine it is for you too.  Prior to getting Derby, I started to do some research into this topic.  I found a great online course for Animal Assisted Therapy on Professional Development Resources.  I highly recommend the online course for any therapist new to the world of AAT.  I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learned, but check out the links above if you want more details (and continuing education credit).

I learned that AAT is a technique used by therapists (speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychologist,  recreational therapist, etc) to meet the goals of a client.  The therapist can be the animal’s handler, or it can be a volunteer.  AAT is goal driven and documented.

I am a speech/language pathologist, and I will use Derby to target communication skills.  He is a great addition to my practice.  He can help target goals for articulation, receptive language, expressive language, fluency, reading, and social skills.  I am excited to have him get to work!

But, first the handler and the animal have to meet certain criteria to be considered.

Pre-requisites for a Therapy Animal Team

I will be Derby’s handler, and at this point I have met my pre-requisites.

  • Own the animal or have permission from owner
  • Known animal at least 6 months.
  • Over 16 years of age

Derby has not yet met all of his pre-requisites.

  • Know basic obedience commands and loose leash walking
  • Be a domestic animal
  • Be at least one year old
  • Live with owner at least 6 months
  • Not fed raw diet
  • Not aggressive in nature

Once these are met, we will be in contact with KPETS to begin the process.  Another organization is Pet Partners.


source:  Brady, Louise Jean, M.S., CCC-SLP, 2018, ‘Animal Assisted Therapy,’ Professional Development Resources, PDF, Viewed on 9/18/2018, <https://www.pdresources.org/course/index/1/1316/Animal-Assisted-Therapy>.

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