Animal Assisted Therapy in Atlanta

AAT is a specialty therapeutic service at Hillside, which provides youth with opportunities to forge connections and process difficult emotions. We are proud to be a leader in the Atlanta, Georgia community offering animal-assisted therapy for youth facing behavioral issues. AAT shows positive results with many of our clients, including some who did not find success with other, more traditional therapies.

How does Animal-Assisted Therapy Work?

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is an experiential intervention performed by a licensed therapist in which animals are utilized to address specific treatment related goals. AAT on an individual basis can address a variety of deficits and is often found to be an effective intervention when children are not responding to traditional talk therapy.

Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy

For individuals who have difficulty engaging in social interactions or participating in traditional therapy, interacting with animals can be a helpful therapeutic step. Working with therapy animals and their handlers is a safe and effective way of exploring emotions and non-verbal forms of communication. Learning to read these cues in animals puts people one step closer to becoming adept at human interactions.

Some clients may be reluctant to work on relationships with other people because of their past experiences. Most do not have previous experience with animals, though, so AAT represents new territory for them. When they successfully interact with the therapy animals, it’s easier to convince them to try again with people.

Animal-assisted therapy also reduces anxiety — a common problem among those facing mental health issues. Scientific research has proven that AAT increases endorphins and dopamine in humans and can reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Stimulating the natural development of feel-good brain chemicals can make AAT an important factor in overcoming depression and other related disorders.

Animal-Assisted Therapy at Hillside

Hillside is one of the few mental health residential treatment centers for children that offers animal-assisted therapy in Atlanta. Meet our therapy dog, Leia!

Leia is a qualified therapy dog and part of Hillside’s Animal Assisted Therapy Team. Leia has been fully vetted as a Canine Good Citizen and completed all of her testing though the Pet Partners Organization. Leia has completed a few weeks of orientation around campus prior to doing any Animal Assisted therapy work with Clients.

Contact us to learn more today!

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