If you’re an animal lover then it shouldn’t come to you as a surprise that having a pet can help alleviate stress, bring good fortune, and cope with problems. As of 2012, it was estimated that about 62% of American households owned at least one pet. Thanks to the strong bond that humans have with animals, something called “Animal-Assisted Therapy” (or AAT) has been developed, which is basically based around the idea that animals can help humans who are coping with certain medical conditions.
What is AAT?
AAT is basically an intervention that harnesses the power of animal interaction to help aid in the recovery of healthy problems that people are experiencing. This therapy is believed to provide a huge amount of benefits, including improved mental health, increased social skills, and better self-esteem. Patients who are experiencing cancer, autism, heart failure, and even schizophrenia are a few of the many individuals benefiting from this therapy.
How does AAT Work?
AAT involves caring for animals on a regular basis, and in return, that individual will be able to experience a sense of love and connection with their pet. Individuals might be required to groom, bathe, or feed the animals as well depending on the severity of their medical condition. The exposure to these animals might result in a higher level of engagement as well as a smaller amount of problematic behaviors. Overall, it may also make someone with an illness easier to care for by medical personnel.
AAT Works Wonders for Individuals with Dementia
Another key benefit to AAT is that it works wonders for individuals who are experiencing Alzheimer’s. It isn’t uncommon for people with dementia to have their world shrink down considerably, until they’re unable to adhere to even the most basic of human needs. But having a strong relationship with a pet can provide the affected individual with something to think about and look forward to.
Another form of AAT could include bringing an animal to a care facility so that it can interact with a patient. There are organizations, like Pet Partners for example, who already provide these services. Activities that are animal-assisted can help provide education and motivation required to increase the quality of someone’s life.
Should There Be More Focus on AAT?
One of the best things about AAT is that it is easily implementable. And due to the high amount of benefits that it provides, there is likely to be more research conducted on other kinds of benefits that it provides. Hard data is required to convince insurance companies that ATT can be just as effective as other medical interventions. But researchers believe that this is going to take time to fully pan out.
Could AAT Ever Replace Drug Treatment?
Can or should AAT replace drug treatments or reduce one’s need for them? Well, this is debatable. However, most people who own pets can agree that owning one can feel like having an effective drug with no side effects – at least this is what researchers propose.