Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is a type of therapy that involves the use of animals to help individuals achieve specific goals. While dogs and cats are commonly used in pet therapy, other animals like guinea pigs, fish, and horses can also serve as pet therapy animals. In some cases, children who are allergic to animal fur may be able to work with animals like dolphins.
Pet therapy is an ongoing process that takes place over several structured meetings, unlike Animal Assisted Activities (AAA), which are more casual and focused on seeking comfort and enjoyment from spending time with animals. During pet therapy sessions, children work towards specific goals and learn to have compassion for other beings. They also learn about taking responsibility for themselves and for others, setting boundaries, and developing communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal.
There are many benefits of pet therapy for children. It can help build self-confidence and self-esteem as the child learns and performs new skills. It can also improve organizational and planning skills, teach boundary-setting skills, and demonstrate how to offer and receive unconditional love. Pet therapy can also help children develop social skills, increase their willingness to join in activities, and improve their interactions with others. Furthermore, it can reduce pain, anxiety, fatigue, and depression, making it an effective tool to help children get through medical or dental procedures with less fear.
In summary, pet therapy is a valuable tool that can help children in various ways. By working with animals, children can learn important life skills, build self-confidence, and improve their overall well-being.