Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that includes animals as a form of treatment. The presence of a calm animal in counseling can lead to improved social, emotional and cognitive functioning. The use of animals can create a natural experience where clients can increase relaxation and healing through the connection with the animal through petting, talking and bonding with the animal. Wilson (1994) suggested that seeing animals in a calm peaceful or natural state can signal feelings of safety and security which in turn may trigger a state where healing and personal change are possible.
The biologically based, inherent human need to affiliate with the life and life like processes. . . that human identity and personal fulfillment are dependent on the human relationship to nature. . .essential for emotional, cognitive, aesthetic, and spiritual development.
The degradation of this human dependence on nature brings the increased likelihood of a deprived and diminished existence – again, not just materially, but also in a wide variety of affective, cognitive, and evaluative respects.
E.O. Wilson, S. R. Kellert
“For thousands of years humans and animals have coexisted with nature and animals on this earth. We have an inherent deep need to have this connection, to be in the presence of nature and animals. This promotes optimal physical and mental health. Without this contact, we can become diminished.”