Animals and pets have long being thought to bring out the best in us. Guide dogs have been and used for years to assist the blind giving them mobility. Now in Australia and abroad some mental health professionals are using animals as part of their therapy. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) involves the use of animals as a form of treatment with a goal to improve a patient’s emotional, social or cognitive functioning. Those who advocate for AAT state that animals can be useful to motivate and educate the participants effectively. Quite often dogs are used in Animal Assisted Therapy in sessions with children and teens to provide comfort in tough times. This type therapy in is believed to increase relaxation in an inviting and warm environment. It has been said to help improve mood, reduce depression and also improve the body’s response to stress. Using AAT has been known to help increase self-worth and self-esteem in the client. How assistance animals and therapy animals are used differently. The assistance animals are registered to provide a service to a person with a disability or illness like a seeing eye dog for example or guide dogs for the blind. Assistant dogs are often granted public access to public buildings and transport like hospitals, shopping centres and restaurants. There’s an increasing demand for assistance animals, particularly dogs. Some of which have been trained to detect changes in blood sugar or early signs of seizures and alert their owners. Some trained animals can help people, cross the road safely, open doors, and pick up objects and a number of other tasks for assisting their owners. Assistance dogs can be registered in most Australian states due to their important functional and lifesaving roles. Under the Pets as Therapy or PAT program for example, some of these pets may actually be called therapy dogs. Therapy dogs receive training and registration or certification for insurance or legal reasons, they don’t perform lifesaving functions and for this reason they aren’t allowed public access. For example, A dog that is registered to work as a Therapy Dog with children and the elderly may not have public access. Registration allows for a basic standard of training and reliability for the animals and their handlers. aifc Admin. Please note: At aifc we do not currently teach about ‘Animal Assisted Therapy’ as part of our counselling courses. To find out more about Assisted Animals Training and certification for animal assisted interventions visit the Lead the Way Institute website. Studying at aifc Have you thought about counselling training? Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to learn how you can extend God’s love and grace to the hurting out in the community. For those who would like to enrol in aifc’s accredited Christian counselling courses we have two intakes per year for courses commencing around the following months: At The beginning of each year in February. Mid-Year courses commence in July. Enrolments open approximately 3 months prior the courses commencing. Enquire now and fill out the form with your details to receive course information by email. Contact aifc Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm with your enquiries on 6242 5111 or toll free on 1300 721 397 Share this Facebook Twitter Pinterest Where to get help 24/7 Helplines Lifeline: 13 11 14 Kids Helplines: 1800 551 800 Mensline: 1300 789 978 Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 Headspace: 1800 650 890 Talk to your doctor and see a mental health professional. Visit CCAA to search for a Christian counsellor near you.