The American Veterinary Medical Association defines the human-animal bond as a mutually beneficial dynamic relationship between people and other animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both.
Utilizing the human-animal bond, animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a specific type of rehabilitation therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment.
The use of a pet during therapy may be viewed as less threatening, more engaging, and more exciting, which may improve the rapport between patient and therapist, improve participation, and enhance outcomes.
The purpose of AAT is to improve an individual’s psychosocial and physical function, and is part of an individualized intervention delivered by a professional healthcare provider such as a physical or occupational therapist. In AAT the animal is utilized as an active partner in therapy, and is delivered as billable treatment.