At the Glenrose in the Fun and Fitness program, the AAT program increased the attendance in the optional program by 20%.
At the Glenrose Cognitive Impairment Unit, we found that after the AAT sessions the clients showed improvement in the following areas:
- 25% increase in enjoyment
- 24% increase in contentment
- 22% increase in relaxation
- 16% increase in attentiveness to environment
- 15% increase in relating to others
- 25% decrease in fear/anxiety
- 22% decrease in wandering/restlessness
- 22% decrease in boredom/inactivity
- 12% decrease in sadness
- 11% decrease in confusion
Results with Youth
The youth involved with our programs reported that the animal helped them concentrate in therapy sessions, stay on good behavior in their residential treatment houses, feel good about themselves, talk openly about their feelings/problems and feel more comfortable with their therapists. They also reported that the animals made them look forward to the sessions and want to attend therapy more than when an animal was not present. In a recent 2008 study involving youth, we found that behaviour issues greatly improved with the use of Animal-Assisted Therapy. Of the participants involved in the study, 80% showed improvements in life skills, the ability to cope with stress, and overall emotional health. There were improvements seen in physical aggression by 40%, and 60% had positive outcomes involving functioning ability outside of therapy sessions.
Animal Enhanced Classrooms
It is reported, by teachers and students in the program, that there is an overall improvement in calmness within the classroom, when an animal is present. Explosive outbursts, that occurred with some students as many as 3 to 5 times per day, were almost completely extinguished with the use of Animal Enhanced Classrooms. Teachers also noted major improvements in the students’ attention spans (increasing in some FASD students from 5 minutes to 20 minutes). Other behaviour improvements were the ability to wait patiently and the ability to empathize.
Chimo AAT (formerly The Chimo Project) conducted an innovative research project on AAT in 2000. The key results from the Residential Care setting are as follows:
- Youth overwhelmingly supported the idea of having an animal in therapy.
- Youth and therapists indicated that the animal’s presence was therapeutic because youth felt the animal was of comfort to them, made them look forward to coming to therapy, and accepted them for who they are.
- Therapy in general helps troubled youth perform better at home, school, and in the Residential Care facility; however, the youth receiving AAT showed greater benefits.
The key results from the Private Practice setting are as follows:
- Clients were positive about the animal being in the therapy session.
- Therapists indicated that the animal assisted in establishing rapport with the clients, clients were more willing to come to therapy when the animal was present, the animal was of comfort to the clients during therapy, and the clients touched and talked directly to the animal.