Animal Assisted Therapy (A.A.T.) derives out of the observation that humans react with interest and warmth to the sight of a loving animal. Recently, research has shown that animals and people both benefit in physical and emotional ways from their interactions. Adults often can't help smiling at the sight of a puppy prancing down the street. Reflecting a natural connection between children and animals, many children's books use animals to tell their stories.

In A.A.T., animals are used as an integral part of the therapeutic process to achieve specified therapeutic goals. When using dogs, the animals are certified as therapy aids by a nationally recognized organization, usually the Delta Society, or Therapy Dogs International. The dogs work in conjunction with a licensed professional, such as a psychologist, speech and language pathologist, or occupational therapist.

Through the interaction with an affectionate, non-judgmental and responsive dog, clients have the opportunity to expand their emotional repertoire, practice new ways of relating, learn to read social cues, raise their ability to tolerate frustration, and increase their levels of patience and perseverance. For example, training a dog to listen to a new command requires a great deal of repetition, gentle instruction, and a soft tone of voice. This is a perfect way for a child to learn patience and persistence. There is no better reward and boost to self-esteem than when the child succeeds at teaching the dog to perform a command.

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