Animal Assisted Therapy : An Intentional And Distinct Healing Modality

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Throughout history, animals have played an important role in the lives of humans. In 1860, Florence Nightingale commented on the positive impact of small animals on those with chronic illness (Nightingale, 1860/1969). Over 100 years have passed, and the human health benefits from exposure to pets, or companion animals, both psychological and physical, have been well-documented (Barker & Dawson, 1998). Halm (2008) suggests that animals play a crucial role in creating healing environments. Animal- assisted therapy generates physiological effects, psychological effects, and social effects. Animal-assisted therapy involves interaction between patients and a trained animal, along with its human handler or owner, with the aim of facilitating patient 's progress toward therapeutic goals Animal assisted therapy differs from common interaction with companion animals. Animal-assisted therapy is considered an intentional and distinct healing modality. Animal therapists are most commonly dogs or cats but can include birds, guinea pigs, fish, horses, ferrets, and dolphins. The aim is to match the patient 's needs with the animal best suited to meet that need. The animal is highly trained and has a clear therapeutic goal. Quiroz Rothe et al (2005) focuses on the specific type of animal-assisted therapy working with horses as the therapy animal. There are numerous terms used to describe the roles that horses play in psychological therapies. Equine facilitated

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