There are many ways to incorporate animal assisted therapy (AAT) into occupational therapy (OT) practice, including facilitating client motivation, participation, companionship, addressing activities of daily living (ADLs) including grooming, bathing, feeding, and dressing, as well as the role of pet caretaker as an instrumental activity of daily living (IADL). While the values and goals that guide both AAT and OT seem to align in various ways, literature speaking to this unique blend of therapy and the benefits it has on client outcomes and work environment are limited. To highlight gaps in knowledge, and to inform suggestions for field advancement, a nonsystematic review of the literature was conducted. A total of nine publications were chosen regarding the use of AAT in OT including standards and best practices. Analysis of these publications showed that best practices are difficult to locate and are suggestive in nature rather than standardized. To further investigate this area of interest, five OT professionals were recruited for an interview via Pet Partners newsletter. The findings from the interviews indicated that professionals desperately want standardized resources for guidance when implementing AAT into their OT practice, as well as increased exposure in didactic OT programs and continuing education courses to inform professionals on the benefits of blending AAT and OT.
Dr. Christine Manville
Occupational Therapy, School of
Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of
Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
animal assisted therapy, occupational therapy, best practice, advocacy, standardization, evidence based practice
VanderBloomen, Mackenzie E., "Occupational Therapy and Animal Assisted Therapy: Advocacy for the Field & Best Practice" (2022). OTD Capstone Projects. 109.