Animal Assisted Interventions

Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) is an interdisciplinary term to describe
interventions that integrate various species of animals into the care and well-being of human beings. AAI is an umbrella term that encompasses the AAII membership fields including Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA), Animal Assisted Education (AAE), Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), Animal Assisted Special Programs (AASP) and Animal Assisted Placement Programs (AAPP). 

 

-Animal assisted activities (AAA): AAA incorporates specially selected and trained animals into impromptu or planned activities and interactions that may be offered by volunteer, paraprofessional or professional human-animal teams.  AAA may be unstructured or goal oriented in areas such as motivational, recreational, social and general well-being.  AAA teams have participated in a minimum of introductory preparation and training for the populations they visit and the dog they are handling. With additional preparation and training, AAA teams can work directly with a licensed, degreed or equivalent healthcare, human service or educational professional in AAE, AAT and AASP.  AAAs promote mutual wellbeing and benefits for the humans and animals involved. AAIs may directly or indirectly involve the animal. It is the most commonly provided form of AAI for the general public.

 

-Animal-assisted therapy (AAT): AAT incorporates specially selected and trained animals into goal directed therapeutic/intervention plans that are designed to promote improvement in physical, cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, and/or emotional functioning.  AAT is developed, directed and/or delivered by a professional who is educated, licensed, degreed or equivalent in healthcare/human service and has specialized expertise within the scope of practice of his/her profession; the process is evaluated and documented.  AAT providers have additional intermediate to advanced continuing education for AAT theory and practice.  AAT providers who handle their own animals have additional intermediate to advanced training in dog advocacy, handling, communication, behavior, husbandry, health, welfare and well-being in both living and working situations.  Alternatively, healthcare and human service providers may choose to work in conjunction with an AAA team, a professional dog handler or an AASP who have additional training for the scope of AAT.   AAT may be provided in a variety of settings, with a variety of ages, may be individual or group in nature.  AAT promotes mutual wellbeing and benefits for the humans and animals involved.  AAT may directly or indirectly involve the animal.

 

-Animal assisted education (AAE): AAE incorporates specially selected and trained animals into goal directed, educationally relevant teaching plans that are designed to promote development of general or special education skills in areas such as cognition, social functioning, personal growth, responsible pet carers, etc.  AAE is developed, directed and/or delivered by a person who is licensed, degreed or equivalent education professional specialized expertise in teaching/education.  The process is evaluated and documented.  AAE providers who handle their own dogs have additional intermediate to advanced training in dog advocacy, handling, communication, behavior, husbandry, health, welfare and well-being in both living and working situations.  Alternatively, teaching/education providers may choose to work in conjunction with an AAA team, a professional dog handler or an AASP who have additional training for the scope of AAE.   AAE may be provided in a variety of settings, with a variety of ages, may be individual or group in nature.  AAE promotes mutual wellbeing and benefits for the humans and animals involved. AAEs may directly or indirectly involve the animal.

Animal Assisted Placement Program (AAPP): An AAPP involves a professional program or individual who provides specially selected and/or trained animals to professionals in AAA, AAE, AAT or AASP.  AAPPs instruct animal recipients/handlers about animal advocacy, handling, training, communication, behavior, husbandry, health, welfare and well-being in both living and working situations.  Some examples of AAPPs are Assistance Dogs International (ADI) (or similar) dog training organizations or similar that raise, train and place “facility dogs” or train dogs for placement with healthcare, human service, education, crisis response, clinics.  AAPPs also includes individuals or organizations that offer owner-self-training classes for healthcare, education or human service providers, etc.  AAPP promotes positive, safe relationships between the handler and the animal.

Animal Assisted Special Program (AASP): AASPs offer goal-oriented programs that incorporate specially selected and trained animals to work in professional fields outside of animal assisted education and therapy  or in conjunction with these licensed professionals.  AASP personnel may or may not have a license, degree, or equivalent, but are delivering a professional level service or program.  Examples of these programs:   Prison dog training classes that teach inmates life/job skills, community programs for people with disabilities, job training, etc., formal crisis intervention department work (e.g. victim advocates), at-risk populations, camps/vocational programs/after school classes for people with disabilities that develop specific skills, a person who teaches veterans with PTSD how to train animals as part other their life skills goals, dogs that work with paramedics/fire stations and that comfort of victims, ministry dogs ( dogs that work with priests, etc.).  AASPs promote wellbeing and benefits for humans and provide a positive experience for the animals without force, coercion or exploitation.  AASPs may directly or indirectly involve the animal.

(terms and definitions via AAII 2021 https://old.aai-int.org/aai/animal-assisted-intervention/)

 

 

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AAP currently provides AAI to residential care facilities, memory care & support, hospice services, mental health care facilities and counseling centers, public libraries, public schools, grief & bereavement support groups, businesses, learning centers, and college campuses. We also partner with licensed professionals to provide AAT and/or AAE or prepare and train credentialed professionals to provide those services.