What is Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy

BAAT donkeys are ‘working donkeys’ with a difference.  We are using donkeys to play a groundbreaking role in relatively new phenomena of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).  Although our donkeys play a huge part in therapy sessions, we also work with dogs, cats, a tortoise, guinea pigs and a calf.

Evidence of a “therapeutic” relationship with animals dates back as far as the ancient Greeks. Animal Assisted Therapy is a technique involving a therapist, a client, an animal and/or an animal handler. It often occurs on a one-to-one basis, with a specifically designed programme including client goals and outcomes that are recorded and evaluated.

Characteristics of AAT activities.

AAT is goal-directed and therefore designed to promote an improvement in physical, social, emotional or cognitive functioning of an individual.

  • The animal is often only part of the treatment programme for an individual.
  • AAT is delivered by a professional with specialist expertise.
  • AAT may be group or individual in nature, although it is largely one-to-one.

Who can benefit?
Almost anyone can benefit from AAT, young or old, but we have had some especially positive outcomes from young people with autism, ADHD, depression, stress, anxiety, low self esteem, dealing with grief, special needs and many other needs and requirements.

If you are wondering if animal Assisted therapy or animal assisted activities could help you or someone that you know please call or e mail for information.

Usually an initial referral results in a visit and informal discussion and a review to plan any future sessions.

AAT offers a whole range of benefits to a  person, these include:

  • Emotional Support
  • Increased self-esteem
  • A dependability of character- animals provide unconditional love
  • Feelings of security or safety
  • Touch, relaxation and health
  • Exercise, play and fun
  • Social facilitation
  • A sense of nurturing
  • Aesthetic pleasure.

Research has shown that donkeys can form lifelong friendships and have the ability to experience emotions. Donkeys are smaller and less intimidating than some farm animals allowing someone with no animal experience to get close to them.  They are naturally calm animals, often choosing to stand stoic in a crisis while deciding what to do.

The rationale for their use of donkeys in AAT was initially was a chance encounter. Two farm donkeys needed extra care in their old age and were taken on by  Youth Worker Ann Slater. Through Ann’s work with young people it became apparent that something very special was happening between donkey and young person. Even the most hardened, resistant and angry young person seemed to calm and show affection to them.

After developing work in conjunction with the Devon Donkey Sanctuary a full programme of AAT is now in place.  Sessions are facilitated by an animal assisted therapist and of course the donkeys.

It possible to predict with some accuracy which donkey is going to approach which type of person. For example one donkey particularly homes in on loud or quick moving  people, while another always approaches shorter people first.  They really are very individual and unique in character.

If you wish to find out more about AAT and the work of BAAT please call or email info@animalassistedtherapywales.co.uk


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