Animal Therapy, Or Animal Assisted Therapy

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Animals and humans have long shared a strong bond (Bakerjian, 2014). Companion animals are animals that live with humans and are part of the family system. They offer benefits such as lowering blood pressure, helping owners maintain an exercise schedule, improving psychological wellbeing and lowering risk of diabetes and heart attacks (Anger & Akins, 2014). This simple relationship humans have with animals has lead to future predictors and research directions into investigating the impact of pet therapy across a range of contexts (Evans & Gray, 2012). Pet therapy, or Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) helps in the physical, social, emotional and cognitive functioning of the participant (Anger & Akins, 2014). Studies have investigated the relationship and benefits AAT brings to mental health, seniors, autism spectrum disorder and hospitalized patients. These studies have shown that AAT decreases blood pressure, reduces anxiety and improve overall human mental and physical health and wellbeing (Bell, 2013; Chur-Hansen, McArthur, Winfield, Haniech & Hazel, 2014). There is a common perception that children, more specifically hospitalized children, benefit from animal visits. However, there is little literature evidence on the benefits of AAT on hospitalized children (Chur-Hansen et al., 2014). By analyzing the importance and relevance of animal assisted therapy in hospitals and with a variety of populations, this research aims to gain a better understanding of the benefits of AAT in
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