Many clients can benefit from the inclusion of an animal into a goal-oriented and structured therapeutic intervention. If you are interested in incorporating AAT as part of your professional application, consider partnering with a Pet Partners therapy animal team.
Although some professionals choose to use their own animal in AAT, partnering with a highly qualified volunteer is not only a valid choice, but in some cases better.
As a professional, your focus is on your client. Will handling an animal be a distraction? If you plan to use AAT for only certain parts of your day, where will your animal wait? How will you manage their need for breaks and stimulation? And keep in mind that not every animal is well-suited for therapy work. If your animal does not enjoy interacting with clients, does this mean you won’t offer AAT?
Instead, consider a team who you schedule ahead of time for specific visits. Imagine being able to identify the most appropriate animal based on your client’s needs and preferences. You would have someone who can attend to the animal’s needs as they arise, and who has been trained and their animal vetted for safe interactions with strangers. This person and their animal can be an amazing resource for you and your client.
Pet Partners aggregates volunteer opportunities for all our handlers. You are invited to post a volunteer opportunity and interested therapy animal teams will contact you.
While the core competencies for all therapy animal handlers are the same, there are additional skills, knowledge, and attitudes for AAT that ensure safe and effective interactions. Pet Partners is proud to have participated in the creation of the first comprehensive set of AAI Competencies spanning volunteers, paraprofessionals, and professionals, based on the research of Dr. Leslie Stewart. Click here to download the competencies.