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July 13, 2016

Why Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Blitz the therapy dogHealth Psychology Sacramento offers Animal-assisted therapy, or simply AAT.  Our clinic utilizes trained animals to assist children and adults in increasing their treatment benefits. Through AAT, our patients can develop skills to help manage and overcome physical, cognitive, and/or emotional limitations.  The bond between humans and animals has always been a source of solace and relief for those who suffer from physical or emotional ailments. Historically, settings for and uses of AAT may vary and may include, hospital rehabilitation programs, individual or group therapy for mental health, or speech therapy for children.

AAT-Animal Assisted Therapy is a treatment process intended for optimal healing and goal-oriented treatment.

Many people find comfort, safety, and security while around animals. Using animals as a source of support can assist a person in feeling more open and engaged in the treatment process.  At Health Psychology Sacramento we are using dogs or cats as therapy animals, but horses, rabbits, birds and even dolphins have been known to serve as therapy animals.

How Can Animal-Assisted Therapy Help with Anxiety?

Psychotherapy is one of the most common treatment options for anxiety and panic disorder. Through psychotherapy, a person can explore past issues, overcome negative thinking, develop healthy behaviors, and better manage their symptoms. Despite the helpfulness of psychotherapy, there are some barriers to getting help for pervasive anxiety that AAT may be able to break through.

Many people find it difficult to open up to a therapist, but communication is an important aspect of the therapy process.  Frequently, communicating with an animal is far easier than communicating with a person, and patients are frequently able to receive the unconditional love of an animal much easier than their own appreciation or that of others.

By using AAT, a person may be able to more readily build rapport and trust with their therapist. An animal can help our patients feel more secure as they share personal stories, and can even serve as a calming distraction while they are feeling difficult emotions in therapy. Group therapy can also be enhanced through AAT by helping members socialize and feel comfortable with self-expression in a group setting.

Please call our director, Dr. Ursula Stehle if you are interested in AAT as a treatment option for you or your loved one: 916.962.0222, ext 1#.

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