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.

Pawsitive Pets: Working with Your Pet as Cotherapist

Cynthia K. Chandler


Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is the incorporation of pets as therapeutic agents into the counseling process. AAT utilizes the special relationship between a pet and its owner to provide services for persons in need. The therapy animal works in partnership with a human therapist to provide compassionate and stimulating therapy designed to facilitate human client recovery. AAT applications in the counseling environment are growing in popularity because increasing numbers of therapists have observed the therapeutic benefits of animal assisted interventions. The most significant contributions of AAT have been demonstrated with clients that are resistant to therapy and/or clinically dysfunctional. In these cases, therapeutic gains were made with the assistance of a therapy animal that most likely would not have been possible otherwise.

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