Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) and animal-assisted activities (AAA) both provide opportunities for individuals to relate to, care for, and to feel compassion for another living thing. At The Peacock Foundation, we encourage both. They are, however, different.
Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) are “any therapeutic intervention that intentionally includes or incorporates animals as part of the therapeutic process or milieu” (Krueger 2004, quoted in Fine 2006). These sessions are an enhanced form of traditional therapy. They are facilitated by mental health professionals and often explore a client’s past experiences, sense of self, and world views.
Animal-assisted activities (AAA) “provide opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life.” These sessions aim to teach clients about the visiting animals or provide animal companionship, but they do not delve into an individual’s deeper psyche. They are typically facilitated by professionals or paraprofessionals from a variety of fields (i.e. zoology, education) and/or by volunteer animal handlers. To learn more about certifying your pet for animal-assisted activities, click here.
Want to learn more? Here are some good reads:
• Fine, Aubrey H, ed. (2006). Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and Guidelines for Practice, 2nd ed. Academic Press: London.
• Kruger, Katheine A., Trachtenberg, Symme W., & Serpell, James A. (2004). Can animals help humans heal? Animal-assisted interventions in adolescent metal health. 1-37. http://research.vet.upenn.edu/Portals/36/media/CIAS_AAI_white_paper.pdf