About Animal-Assisted Therapy
What is AAT?
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic tool that involves adults and children, often diagnosed with a certain illness or disorder, interacting with a variety of different animals in order to aid them in their recovery process or to help them cope with ongoing symptoms. AAT can provide the key to unlocking an individual’s defence system, allowing them to relax, open up and talk honestly, this can benefit individuals with a wide variety of illnesses and conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, learning disabilities, mental disabilities such as Emotional Detachment Disorder, Autism, ADHD, anxiety, behavioural issues and eating disorders.
AAT also offers several notable benefits for people requiring help with mobility, endurance, strength, coordination, balance and sensation. Their interactions with the animals will not only assist with the improvement of their mobility issues, but will also address their perceptual and cognitive deficits, increase self-esteem, reduce stress, increase motivation, improve social-skills and can also be tailored to improve on aspects such as fine motor skills.
In addition to AAT, Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) are also extremely beneficial. By combining AAT with AAA, people can interact with animals on a one-to-one basis, this may involve holding, petting and grooming the animals.
If you are looking to organise an AAT or AAA session, it is important your therapist is a certified health professional or human service provider with the correct licence, insurance, certification and experience in order to ensure that they are committed to working to high professional and ethical standards and have been successful in delivering effective and interactive experiences between animals and people.
How does Animal-Assisted Therapy work?
Home Safari Animal Assisted Therapy provides AAT and AAA sessions specially tailored to a wide variety of conditions within the NHS, the private sector and the community. We work in conjunction with other health practitioners to ensure our AAT and AAA sessions meet the individuals goals and needs. Informal AAA’s are always popular, as they can be catered to an individual or a group and act as an excellent communication aid as well as always being a fantastic talking point.
Along with evidence based research, health professionals and practitioners recognise AAT as a beneficial and positive practice, aiding in the improvement of both physical and mental health and well-being. It has been shown to improve many skills in various areas, such as interpersonal, community living, vocational and social interaction. It can also be used as part of a graded exposure and anxiety management plan or even to help with the reintegration back into the community.
Clinical teams recognise how valuable and beneficial our animals have been to their service users throughout our many years of service, and along with ourselves have observed the priceless role they have played in the recovery process of hundreds of individuals. We’ve engaged many challenging patients and have used our group facilitation skills to form professional and meaningful relationships with people in our care. We work within a number of services and environments such as CAMHS, outpatient & drop-in clinics, care homes, forensic wards, PICU wards, SEN schools, hospice’s and even within service users own homes. We also work with individuals struggling with mobility, coordination and cognitive issues, such as those in brain injury units. We work alongside occupational therapist’s to develop programs focusing on aspects such as improving fine motor skills via the use of animals, whilst also building confidence and motivation alongside providing a welcome distraction from pain and infirmity.
Our staff have years of extensive experience within the health care sector and keep up-to-date with current research, findings and best practices within the animal assisted therapy division. Each member is fully DBS checked, insured and are either fully certified Animal Assisted Therapy Practitioners or are in training to become one.
We are also very proud to say that we are the only AAT company to ever win a highly commended award from the NHS for our work in mental health and the community.
Every animal used for AAT undergoes a physical examination, as well as an evaluation of its behaviour and temperament. Often, we assign animals based on a patient’s specific health needs.
Here at Home Safari we have a wide range of animals who help us to deliver high quality, interactive and valuable sessions. From rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchilla’s and dogs to birds, skunks, hedgehogs, small and large tortoises, bearded dragons, gecko’s, tegu’s, skinks, and cool critters, we have an ideal animal for everyone, whatever their preference
AAT and Autism
AAT has been shown to be particularly effective for individuals living with Autism. It has been demonstrated that the introduction to therapy animals in a safe and structured way has both emotional and physical benefits. Many parents are often surprised when they see the connection their autistic child can have with an animal, how they appear more content and display such happiness when doing so. AAT can be as simple as a home visit from one or more of our animals, or may require a more structured and focused therapy program.
Interested in Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Just send us a message, using the form below, if you've any questions or wish to book an appointment.