Animal-assisted therapy

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Advocates state that animals can be useful for educational and motivational effectiveness for participants. A therapist who brings along a pet may be viewed as being less threatening, increasing the rapport between patient and therapist. Animals used in therapy include domesticated pets, farm animals and marine mammals (such as dolphins).

The effectiveness of AAT remains unproven. There is no clear mechanism by which Animal Assisted Therapy is known to work, furthermore the research into this topic has been criticized for over-reliance on anecdotal evidence and poor methodology.