Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a client's social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning. The goal of social work practice also intends to aid in improving these areas which affect one's quality of life. A review of the literature has shown that use of AAT helps to improve the therapeutic alliance, which is the relationship between the client and practitioner. Such a relationship is imperative to the treatment process. This paper will review the research and methodology regarding effectiveness of AAT with various populations. Animal-assisted therapy can be beneficial to the numerous diverse populations that social workers provide services to. The essential need for inclusion of AAT interventions with formal social work education will be highlighted in this paper.
Key words: Animal-assisted therapy, AAT, social work, education, practice