All providers of Animal Assisted Intervention programmes should work to three general principles:
- One health one welfare, where an interdisciplinary approach recognises the relationship between human well being, animal welfare and the environment.
2. Goal orientated, planned and structured. Progress should be measured and recorded in professional documentation.
3. Have adequate knowledge about behaviour, needs, health and indicators of stress of animals involved.
Animal assisted interventions are delivers in four formats:
- Animal Assisted Therapy
Delivered by health, education and human service professionals within the scope of a professional practice. Therapy focuses on enhancing physical, cognitive, behavioural and or social-emotional functioning of the particular human recipient.
2. Animal Assisted Education
Delivered by educational and related service professionals. The focus on activities is academic goals, pro-social skills and cognitive functioning.
3. Animal Assisted Activity
Informal interaction working with a healthcare provider or educator. Examples are: support for trauma, crisis and survivors. visiting companion animals for meet and greet activities within residential homes.
4. Animal Assisted Coaching
Delivered by professionals licensed as coaches focusing on enhancing personal growth of the recipient.
A new international practitioners’ organisation has been formed in America, that has created global standards of best practice Animal Assisted Intervention International, but nothing yet exists in the uk.
Alliance of therapy dogs
Based in New York, it is a national organisation providing training, registration, support, and insurance for American members who volunteer with dogs to visit hospitals, special needs, schools, nursing homes, and other facilities. Read more here.
The full definitions are in the International association of Human Animal interaction Organisations white paper here.