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Get to Know: Animal Assisted Therapy  

 

We have to accept that we need help every now and then especially when it comes to our social, emotional and cognitive functioning. If we are struggling, we are recommended to submit to therapy. Our traditional concept of therapy is with a counsellor and spending hours of talking and figuring about the things that are bothering us.

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There is a new kind of therapy here in Singapore that entails a dog. Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason. Dogs can do more than playing fetch and snacking biscuits. Dogs can help people who are in social and emotional turmoil. This kind of therapy is called Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). AAT is widely practiced in Australia and America. It is now in Singapore although many haven’t heard about it.

It is important that many people are educated of the benefits of AAT. To begin, here are some things that we should know about AAT:

  • What is AAT? ATT is a therapeutic approach that seeks to develop the patient’s social, emotional and even cognitive function. The therapy uses dogs. Actually other domesticated pets and farm animals can be used too. AAT includes counselling for both children and youth from 4 years old to 20 years old.

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  • Institution: As mentioned earlier, AAT is a relatively new therapy here but it does not mean that there is no institution pushing it. There is Pawsibility for instance founded by Maureen Huang. Pawsibility was founded a year ago. The institution stresses that AAT is more than patting the dog and having fun but it is actually a therapy that can improve the lives of young people.
  • Co-therapists: Maureen Huang, the founder of Pawsibility, travelled to Colorado since there is has previously been no one in Singapore trained in AAT. Maureen met Telly and trained together. Telly is a Labrador retriever. Maureen and Telly trained at the Institute of Human-Animal Connection. They are called co-therapists. Individual sessions are about forty five minutes while group sessions last longer.
  • Credentials: We should not worry about the effectiveness of the therapy. Telly is trained for this. She is called therapy dog. She was picked because of her friendly personality. In fact, she is a certified Canine Good Citizen awarded by American Kennel Club. Telly is not your ordinary dog. Meanwhile. Maureen had her Masters in Social Work in University of Denver. Maureen and Telly have been working with families, individuals and groups in America and her.

Dogs are indeed more than a pet. Dogs are companion that can decrease our anxiety, stress hormones and blood pressure.

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