While training as a BACP counsellor I attended an Animal Assisted work shop, working with animals from horses to guinea pigs I was amazed at the results. Clients often had the kind of breakthrough in one session that may have taken several sessions without the animals. I was hooked and AAT has been my passion ever since.
Today with the increased use of animals as Activity Assistants Animals (AAA) and Animal Assisted Therapy there can be confusion between the two. AAA animals do wonderful work such as Guide Dogs and Medical Alert Dogs, whereas AAT animals are present as an aid during counselling sessions. AAT works particularly well for children as they find working with the animals fun and relax more easily.
AAT is using an animal within a normal therapy session to aid the client, they are non judgmental and help with relaxation, confidence and emotional support
In a counselling session the therapy animal is the clients friend and can be watched, stroked or held for all or part of the session. A client who is nervous or embarrassed to talk about their issue can often talk freely to an animal while building trust with the counsellor.
During my training I found guinea pigs to be sociable little animals who enjoy being held and stroked and being small, excellent for people who are not used to handling animals or wary of larger animals such as dogs.
My guinea pigs are Daisy and Drew and you can see their photo and read about them on their own page.