Animal Assisted Play Therapy
Winner of the 2018 Maxwell Award in the category of best book on the human-animal bond!
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© 2017. 424pp paperbound. ISBN: 9781568872179
This book is the culmination of the authors’ combined 75 years of experience working with animals as a part of their therapeutic practice. Professional practitioners, as well as the paraprofessionals who work in tandem with them, will find this book of enormous value. While the focus is on mental health professionals, the approach and methods covered can easily be adapted for use by allied health professionals, such as physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapists as well as those in the educational field such as teachers and school counselors. Animal Assisted Play Therapy® (AAPT) adds the elements of playfulness, humor, and lightness to the therapeutic process, and can be helpful for clients of all ages. It focuses heavily on relationships: how the relationship between therapist and animal must be developed in positive, mutually respectful ways in which the animals have a voice and choice whenever possible. This in turn provides a model for clients to help them strengthen their own relationships, not only with therapy animals and their own companion animals, but within the human relationships in their families and communities. The authors demonstrate how the techniques can be readily applied for dogs, horses, cats, and other animals. Many illustrative case examples are included.
It is difficult to capture in a few words, just how good this book is. This text is a truly extraordinary and compelling synthesis of theory, practice and fundamental principles, written in an easy to understand style, by two authors who clearly have a love for what they do and who want to promote scientific and compassionate practice with animal assisted interventions. The book is essential reading not just for those with an interest in the professional practice of Animal Assisted Play Therapy, but also for anyone more broadly interested in how animals can enrich our lives and wider society. This book will clearly be a classic in its field.
--Prof Daniel S. Mills BVSc PhD CBiol FRSB FHEA CCAB Dip ECAWBM(BM) FRCVS; European & RCVS Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK
Animal Assisted Play Therapy presents a comprehensive approach to the inclusion of animals in psychotherapy in general, and play therapy in particular. The book goes beyond describing the inclusion of animals in sessions to describe the nature of the relationship between the animal, the therapist and the client. Extensive attention is paid to the competencies the therapist must have in order to engage in AAPT as well as guidance in selecting and training animals. One of the most unique aspects of the book is the degree to which it focuses on the welfare of the animal as essential to both ethical practice and to the success of any AAPT intervention. The book is engaging and the writers’ style is very reader-friendly, making the concepts accessible to those new to the field as well as seasoned practitioners. There are many anecdotes and clinical examples which are both illustrative and clinically useful. The research on the involvement of animals in therapy is well represented and all of the material well referenced. Overall, the book is an excellent resource and a wonderful addition to the literature on a rapidly growing intervention.
--Kevin O’Connor, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S, Cofounder/Director Emeritus, Association for Play Therapy; Distinguished Professor, CA School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University
Animal Assisted Play Therapy is an encyclopedic and clearly written book that surely will set the standard for many years to come. Weaving in wonderful stories and case studies with available scientific data, Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson have written a comprehensive and wide-ranging volume—a detailed practical guide—that is a must-read for everyone who is involved in any type of animal assisted therapy. It’s impossible to cover all of the areas that are discussed in great detail, so here are a few snippets that should whet readers’ appetites for learning more about the numerous areas the authors cover. These include recognizing the importance of play for both humans and nonhumans that makes therapy more enjoyable and enriching for all participants, paying very close attention to the animals’ point of view and well-being as a voluntary partner in therapy rather than as a non-consenting co-therapist, and being sure there is a good fi t in the personalities of the humans and the nonhumans between whom a deep reciprocal partnership is formed. I learned an incredible amount from reading and rereading sections of this landmark book, and it’s easy to see how it will remain the significant go-to reference for people practicing animal assisted therapy for many years to come.
‒Marc Bekoff, PhD, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals and The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age
I can’t imagine a more incredibly comprehensive and honest exploration of AAPT. To their huge credit, throughout this book, the authors continually demonstrate the importance of genuinely caring for the well-being and welfare of the animals involved and ensuring that their needs come first. If you want to learn, question and ultimately understand AAPT, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
‒Ben Hart, Hart’s Horsemanship; Author of The Art and Science of Clicker Training for Horses: A Positive Approach to Training Equines and Understanding Them
Animal Assisted Play Therapy by Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson is an excellent resource for beginning and advanced practitioners of this approach. It provides the reader with practical knowledge on how to implement therapeutic strategies that consider the welfare of both human and animal participants. The authors’ great breadth of experience and expertise is evident in this comprehensive presentation. Their book is a highly valuable contribution to the field of animal-assisted counseling and psychotherapy.
--Cynthia K. Chandler, EdD, LPC-S, LMFT-S, Professor of Counseling, University of North Texas; Author of Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling
Table of Contents
FOREWORD BY AUBRY H. FINE
FOREWORD BY PATRICIA MCCONNELL
PART I: THE FIELD OF ANIMAL ASSISTED PLAY THERAPY®
Chapter 1 ‒ BEGINNINGS
The Making of a Play Therapy Dog (Risë) / Horses in Play Therapy (Tracie) / A Partnership for AAPT
Chapter 2 ‒ DEFINITIONS
Is It Magic? / Animal Assisted Play Therapy®: Definition and Overview / Applications of AAPT / Case Illustrations
Chapter 3 ‒ BACKGROUND, PRINCIPLES, AND GOALS
Animal Emotions and the Human-Animal Bond / Animal-Assisted Therapy / Play and Play Therapy / Integration of AAT and Play Therapy / AAPT Guiding Principles / Psychotherapy Theories in AAPT / Goal Areas of AAPT
Chapter 4 ‒ DOGS AND HORSES
The Original “Play Therapists”: The Case for Canines / Why Horses? The Case for Equines
Chapter 5 ‒ RELATIONSHIPS: THE CORNERSTONE OF THE AAPT APPROACH
Relationship / What Is a Relationship? / What Does the Therapist-Animal Relationship Look Like in AAPT? / Summary
PART II: PREPARATION FOR AAPT WORK
Chapter 6 ‒ OVERVIEW OF COMPETENCIES
Therapist Competencies for AAPT / Preparation of Animals for AAPT
Chapter 7 ‒ THERAPIST COMPETENCIES
Therapy Skills / Play Therapy Competence / Animal Behavior / Animal Handling / Split Attention / Facilitating Client-Animal Interactions / Ethics and Welfare / Relationship
Chapter 8 ‒ ANIMAL PREPARATION FOR AAPT
Selection of Animals / Socialization / Positive Training / Clear Communication / Environment / Relationship
Chapter 9 ‒ BUILDING THE THERAPIST-ANIMAL RELATIONSHIP
Creating a Relationship / Taking the Animal’s Perspective / Learn About the Species / Learn About the Species’ Body Language / Starting Off with a Relationship-Focused Attitude / Other Ways to Nurture Therapist-Animal Relationships
Chapter 10 ‒ PRACTICAL MATTERS
Practical Considerations When Starting / The Environment for AAPT / How Much Should Animals Work?
PART III: ANIMAL ASSISTED PLAY THERAPY® IN ACTION
Chapter 11 ‒ GETTING STARTED
Treatment Planning / Consent / Client Preparation / Introducing Clients to the Animals
Chapter 12 ‒ FOUNDATIONS OF AAPT INTERVENTIONS
Therapeutic Powers of Play / Ways of Incorporating Playfulness / Levels of Structure in AAPT
Chapter 13 ‒ APPLICATIONS OF AAPT
Nondirective AAPT / Directive AAPT (Goals Areas 1-5)
Chapter 14 ‒ THERAPEUTIC PROCESSING IN AAPT
Nondirective AAPT Processing / Directive AAPT Processing / The Unexpected / Debriefing Process in Group and Family AAPT
Chapter 15 ‒ TRANSITIONS AND ENDINGS
Client Transitions / Animal Transitions
PART IV: PROFESSIONAL ISSUES, ETHICS, AND WELFARE
Chapter 16 ‒ ANIMAL WELFARE
Animal Welfare in AAI and AAPT / Specific Practices / Animal Welfare During Stressful Client Breakthroughs / Broader Actions for Animal Welfare
Chapter 17 ‒ PROFESSIONAL ISSUES AND ETHICS
Boundaries of Practice / Supervision / Split Attention / Anthropomorphism / Countertransference / Mental Health Interventions by Nontherapists
Chapter 18 ‒ RESEARCH AND RESOURCES
Related Research In Brief / AAPT Research / Research on AAPT and Therapist Self-Efficacy / Resources / The Future