Careers in Animal Assisted Therapy, Education and Activities
Animal Assisted Therapy is a new field, poised for growth. As the research supporting the value of AAT has grown, so has the level of public and institutional support. The outlook for professionals employing AAT is extremely positive. For example, therapy and therapy assistant positions are projected to grow much faster than average for the next decade, by over 27% (source: US Department of Labor).
Animal assisted therapy, education or activities are now used in a wide variety of careers. These tools are used by many professionals such as:
- Occupational therapists
- Therapy assistants
- Recreational therapists
- Social workers
- Reading specialists
- Special ed instructors
- Nurses' aides
- Residential coordinators
- Physical therapists
- Therapy aides
Many AAT professionals are self-employed, already working as counselors, psychologists, occupational therapists. Therapy assistants may be working with a licensed therapist or in a private practice. Program managers for animal assisted activities may work for rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, elder-care facilities, or hospitals. Educators may work in a public or private school system or work as independent contractors.
How are animal assisted activities incorporated into other professions?
Animals are an obvious teaching aid commonly used as classroom resources and incorporated into lesson plans and reading programs. They are also used by school counselors and have been shown to help children improve self esteem and overcome physical and mental challenges.
In many types of therapy (physical, occupational, psychology, social work) animals promote interaction between the client and the therapist. Animal interaction can be a powerful motivator allowing professionals to more quickly achieve their goals with the client.
Therapy animals are widely employed in elder care to improve the quality of life. While clients may resist traditional therapy, they may eagerly perform related tasks with animals, such as brushing a dog!
Many of those participating in AAA aren't professionals with specific client goals but work instead as volunteers to improve the quality of life for others. At ABI we can help you to help others, by providing the training you need to maximize your effectiveness.
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