Animal Assisted Therapy for Your Mental Health

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Animal assisted therapy may be beneficial for your mental health. Learn how pet therapy is used for mental health at

Animal Assisted Therapy for Your Mental Health

Animals help human mental health. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), sometimes called pet therapy, is a great tool for mental health help.

I’m sure you know of the service dogs that help the blind find their way or warn someone with epilepsy of a seizure before it starts. Service dogs aren’t the only helping animals. Others (primarily dogs but some cats, horses, llamas, or small animals) provide animal therapy or emotional support.

AAT: How Animals are Used to Give Mental Health Help

Animal-assisted therapy is mental health therapy that involves the use of a dog or other animal. A therapist or other professional owns the animal and takes it to various settings such as clinics, schools, hospitals, shelters, and more. If it’s a large animal, clients come to the animal and therapist. The animal is an integral part of mental health therapy for individuals and groups.

Emotional support animals are used by people who have a verifiable disability and need the emotional support of an animal in order to keep living independently. An emotional support animal isn’t a pet. It provides a specific mental health service.

Whether people interact with an animal through AAT or own an animal for emotional support, they can reap numerous benefits. Interacting with animals can help decrease depression and anxiety, improve mood, provide comfort, decrease loneliness, increase socialization, and so much more. Feeling connected to and grateful for these gentle helpers also boosts mental health.

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Your Thoughts

Today's Question: Have you experienced animal-assisted therapy (AAT)? If so, how did it help your mental health? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, knowledge, and experiences on the HealthyPlace Facebook page and on the HealthyPlace Google+ page.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2017, October 31). Animal Assisted Therapy for Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Last Updated: November 1, 2017

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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