Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson do a wonderful job in explaining Animal Assisted Play Therapy— including the benefits, the animal-human bond, competencies, how involving dogs in therapy can be empowering for the client, prepping your animal for this job, and so much more! As a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and trainer who also works with horses on occasion, I’ve gained new insight from this book. The coverage of why people sometimes unknowingly behave in ways that create stress for their animals and how to help them gain awareness while changing their behavior is particularly helpful for those of us in the animal professions. The similarities of helping therapy clients interact with animals with my own work teaching people to train their dogs were fascinating and affirming of the way I work with my own dog behavior and training clients! The many case examples in the book also offer ideas and directions for animal professionals who wish to assist therapists using AAPT in their work. I was particularly glad to see sections on becoming centered, how being in nature can facilitate therapy, developing respect and proper care for one’s animal in therapy, how the therapist-animal team must adjust to the needs of each other, and as part of that and just as important, the need for therapists to be able to properly read the animal for signs of stress. Without reciprocity in this special partnership, all will come to nought. Changing one’s human behavior to effect change in the animal is an important cornerstone of a solid relationship—in and out of the therapy. Because my focus is always on the dogs, I especially liked the discussions of competencies needed by therapists as well as choosing the right animal for the job, so this doesn’t become simply ‘taking my nice little dog to work with me.’ It takes a highly skilled person to successfully dovetail both components (animals and therapy) and this book details many of those skills to develop an effective and beneficial program. I enthusiastically encourage anyone who is interested in AAPT and AAT, whether just starting or with many years of experience, to read this well researched and practical book. It contains many gems of solid wisdom!

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