Summit charts course for human animal interventions ethics, best practices

The Oakland University Center for Human Animal Interventions (CHAI) recently (August 12-14, 2015) hosted its first Learning Summit at the school’s Rochester, Mich., campus. The event brought together a small group of elite industry thought-leaders from around the country to discuss the state of the industry and review what’s needed for legitimacy and growth. Over…

Attend free animal welfare in animal assisted therapy lecture

If you’re in the Oakland County, Michigan area and are interested in learning more about working with dogs in animal assisted therapy (AAT), consider attending the free lecture, “It’s Not Dog Whispering, It’s Dog Listening.” Sponsored by Oakland University’s Center for Human Animal Interventions, the presentation will be held Thursday, March 24, 2016, from   4…

Animal Assisted Therapy, Veterans and PTSD

Not long ago, I led an animal shelter’s animal assisted therapy program designed to help veterans re-integrate after returning from a tour of duty. One group included a young man who had enrolled in college after serving in the Middle East, but who struggled to relate to the other students. He was around the same…

Incorporating animals into occupational therapy settings

It’s well documented that animal assisted interventions result in statistically significant health benefits. That’s one reason why animal assisted therapy is increasingly popular with occupational therapists. Research by Mona Sams, Elizabeth Fortney, and Stan Willenbring, for example, documented that children with autism demonstrated significantly greater language use and social interaction in occupational therapy (OT) sessions…

3 simple steps that will protect your therapy animal’s welfare

When people think about partnering with their pets for animal assisted therapy, they often focus on the positive outcomes – the benefits their pets will bring to others. They know that this kind of therapy can help a wide range of clients, from struggling readers to veterans. They know how much pleasure their pets bring…

What animals can be involved in therapy?

Most people can recall a situation when an animal made a positive difference in their lives. Whether it was that time your friend’s cat curled up in your lap and purred when you cried over a break-up, or you saw an ailing relative’s breathing relax when petting the family dog, the idea of pets helping…

5 steps for registering your pet to be a pet therapy animal

Do you want to work with your pet to help others? Perhaps you want to visit nursing home or hospice facility residents with your dog or cat. Maybe you want to bring your dog in to help people perform occupational therapy tasks. You might even want to incorporate your pet to help military veterans deal…

Pairing animals with at-risk youth

Our blog post about Andrew, who lived in a residential youth facility, detailed how training a dog named Bear helped both the animal and the young man develop and grow. This isn’t an isolated incident. Using a dog like Bear with at-risk or incarcerated adolescents can help staff reach them at a level they probably…

Mental health counselors and animal assisted therapy

More and more mental health counselors are embracing animal assisted therapy – AAT – because of its value with people of all ages and with a wide range of issues. Even Sigmund Freud often incorporated his Chow Chow, Jofi, into counseling sessions. Animal assisted interventions are highly effective in a number of professions, including counseling….

Cheaters could hurt those who need emotional support animals on airplanes

Emotional support animals made headlines this week when NBC reported that airline passengers have “found a loophole to bring all kinds of animals on board.” The segment, which follows similar network news reports this year, noted that people are bringing more than dogs and cats with them for emotional support on airplanes. Recent flights have…

Andrew: An animal assisted therapy success story

Placed in a residential youth facility, Andrew* was full of rage, fear, and sadness. It only got worse after he lost a brother to a drug-related incident. Having been severely neglected and abused for years, his anger found an outlet in his fists – with the walls, residents, and staff as his punching bags. He…