Animal-Assisted Services may help with the prevention and management of mental illness, disease, disability and suffering for people of all ages, and in many settings.
The animal-assisted services sector is made up of a range of different professionals who work within the scope of their practice alongside animals.
These types of services are goal-directed programs designed to promote improvement in people with intellectual, physical, sensory, cognitive and psychosocial conditions in which a specially trained animal-handler team is an integral part. It is directed and/or delivered by a practitioner with specialized expertise within the scope of practice of his/her profession.
Treatment can take several forms and may be group or individual in nature. There are different types of animal-assisted services and it’s important to note the distinctions.
Once of the most challenging aspects of our sector is the confusion around terminology. Streamlining the terminology into a simple, easy to understand framework is critical to engage funding bodies. To address this issue, ATL is committed to simplifying the sector description to provide people with a greater understanding that the classification of services relates to the qualifications of the human involved in the service delivery.
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is directed and/or delivered by a qualified allied health professional with education and specialized expertise within the scope of practice of his/her profession. AAT may be provided in a variety of settings, may be group or individual in nature and may be implemented for persons of any age. There are specific goals for each individual involved and the process is documented and evaluated.
Animal-Assisted Learning (AAL) involves an animal and a facilitator in an ‘experiential’ learning environment to assist an individual or group develop skills, tools and strategies to achieve a predetermined goal. AAL practitioners are trained in their field of expertise to facilitate specific learning outcomes. Can include corporate coaching, leadership, team building, personal development and self management.
Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) consists of therapeutic animal visits by a trained handler / animal team to people in workplaces, hospitals, aged care facilities, schools, universities and other institutions to alleviate stress, boost morale, contribute to wellbeing, provide a distraction for pain management and to provide therapeutic relief. These visits are therapeutic in nature and handlers may be volunteers who do not hold any specific professional qualification.
Assistance Animals (often dogs “AD”) are trained to perform one or more tasks to help their handler better access public life and manage their condition such as physical impairment, diabetes, eye disease, hearing and vision impairment, seizures, asthma, life threatening allergies, people who experience episodic and serious medical crises (e.g. epilepsy, changes in blood pressure or blood sugar); and people with psychosocial conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideology and other psychological conditions.
Assistance animals have a legal right to access public places and are not to be patted or distracted as they are working animals. They support people in accessing various aspects of personal and public life. They can be trained in tasks to alert their handler of an oncoming medical episode or to assist with everyday tasks. An assistance animal must meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place. Please do not ask the handler of an assistance animal about their condition.