Animal-assisted social work is becoming a popular treatment for both children and adults. A review of the literature regarding animal-assisted social work reveals a lack of a unified theoretical framework. Service dogs have been reported to help people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder with patience and better impulse and emotional control.
The beneficial effects of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) have been recognized since 1945 when therapy dogs were first trained to provide comfort and motivation to injured World War II soldiers. Today, at Blue Spruce, we provide our clients with specially designed animal assisted therapy in the Denver area.
Animal-assisted therapy can mean many things. Social workers, counselors, and therapists may include animals to aid in a psychotherapy session. Cats, goats, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and even rats have been used, but dogs are the most common.
Animals are sometimes taken into hospitals and hospices to lift people's spirits. In a program like Therapy Dogs International, many of the children chosen to participate have difficulties reading and resulting self-esteem issues.
They are often self-conscious in front of other classmates. But in front of a dog, the child relaxes, pats the attentive dog, and focuses on the reading. Still, other reading programs use dogs—usually golden retrievers—in libraries.