Animal assisted interventions (AAI) is an alternative type of therapy treatment that uses animals. In recent years, it’s gained a huge amount of coverage thanks to the incredible benefits it can provide people of all ages - and at all stages of life.
Here, we shine a light on this type of therapy in more detail including who can benefit from it and what they can expect.
What is Animal Assisted Intervention?
Often shortened to AAI, this type of therapy is one that incorporates animals and their handlers to help promote the physical, social, emotional or cognitive health of a patient.
While animal assisted therapy (AAT) or animal assisted activities (AAA) can be used on its own, it’s often used alongside other care and treatment provided by social care professionals, healthcare providers or teachers.
Why is Animal Assisted Intervention used?
There are a huge number of studies that show that animal therapy is an effective and safe way to meet a variety of goals. From helping to promote social interaction and building self-esteem to providing a sense of responsibility and helping to boost physical mobility, animals can support patients with a number of skills.
Not just that but it’s also been proven that animal therapy can help individuals to overcome stress and also build confidence. It’s a great way of allowing individuals to access the community, and feel less lonely, if the sessions take place out and about such as in schools, colleges and community centres. Other benefits include:
Reduced blood pressure - One study found that those individuals that stroked a dog had lower blood pressure compared to those who didn’t.
Lower anxiety levels - In 2003, another programme looked at the impact on the brain after interaction with a familiar and unfamiliar dog. It found that both situations led to a significant reduction in the stress levels of a human.
Improved emotional awareness - From smiling more and being helpful to being sociable and having more confidence in new tasks, other researchers have found that regular AAI helps individuals to develop empathy and boost their own self-esteem. This can also help to reduce feelings of anger and aggression.
Better moods - In a study that looked at the impact that dogs can have on elderley patients, it was found that many experienced a reduction in depression and it actually boosted their quality of life.
Additional research has also found that there may be a link between caring for a dog and improved immune systems.
Who can benefit from AAI?
In short, anyone. At PAWS, our handlers work together with the healthcare or social care professionals to come up with a personalised programme that meets specific criteria and the needs of every individual.
Typically though, adults and children with autism, learning difficulties, mental health conditions, rehabilitation needs, physical disabilities, dementia and social isolation benefit from this type of therapy.
At PAWS, we provide wellbeing and mental health support for individuals of all ages using animal assisted interventions as well as complementary therapies and educational practices. If you have any questions about our services, or want to find out more about our therapy dogs and the benefits of a human/animal bond, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.