Animal Assisted Therapy

Assistance Dogs Australia now provides clinic-based Animal Assisted Therapy sessions delivered by occupational therapists, Claire and Lauren, in Engadine NSW or via Telehealth (Australia-wide) for those who prefer it.

Our two occupational therapists are also able to provide school-based group sessions at local primary and high schools.

Our dog co-therapist team includes Labradors named Asta, Bentley, Ike & Joy.

Animal Assisted Therapy promotes engagement and motivation through inclusion of a trained dog in therapy sessions to support social, emotional, cognitive and physical functioning.

The involvement of a trained dog in occupational therapy has been found to decrease physiological arousal and stress, and provide motivation to engage in social interactions, play and functional tasks.

Animal Assisted Therapy facilitated by an occupational therapist may work towards individual goals related to:
      •  Social participation and communication skills
      •  Emotion and sensory regulation
      •  Self-care and activities of daily living
      •  Fine motor, gross motor, and coordination skills.

Sessions can be clinic or community-based to support individuals to develop school and work-based skills, to increase community engagement, and build confidence catching public transport.

In 2017-18 Assistance Dogs Australia and the University of Sydney conducted a pilot research project investigating the outcomes of Animal Assisted Therapy with young people living with autism. Since completion, ADA and USyd have worked closely to analyse the data, with the support of occupational therapy research students. Our first peer-reviewed journal article was published earlier this year in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and can be accessed here.

More research papers are currently in the peer review process for publication. Stay tuned for more about Animal Assisted Therapy with individuals with autism, parent perceptions of Animal Assisted Therapy, and the impact of Animal Assisted Therapy on anxiety in children living with autism.

Animal Assisted Therapy at Assistance Dogs Australia is provided in accordance with the Animal Assisted Intervention International Standards of Practice. 

If you would like more information about Animal Assisted Therapy, please contact Debby at [email protected]

To schedule an appointment please call (02) 9548 3355.

People living with autism can find out more about handling a full-time Assistance Dog by clicking here.

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