VISTAS Animal Assisted Therapy

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

The Role of Animal-Assisted Interventions in Addressing Trauma-Informed Care

Leslie A. Stewart, Laura Bruneau, and Anna Elliott


Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) is an interdisciplinary term to describe interventions that integrate various species of animals into the care and wellbeing of human beings. When implemented with the appropriate education and training, AAI offers several key benefits that are central to trauma-informed care, including: reducing treatment anxiety, facilitating development of strong therapeutic rapport, decreasing feelings of detachment, and offering a non-verbal avenue for expression and processing. In this manuscript, the authors propose two ways AAI can add to trauma-informed care: animal-assisted therapy in counseling (AAT-C) and animal-assisted crisis response (AACR). Authors will discuss relevant literature, provide examples of appropriate interventions and techniques, and offer resources for further information.

Keywords: animal-assisted therapy, trauma-informed care, crisis response counseling

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