To help people understand the benefits of human-animal interaction and spread awareness about Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), a day-long workshop is being organized in Bengaluru on February 10. The workshop is being brought out by Animal Angels Foundation, a Pune-based non profit organization working in the field of human-animal interaction and animal assisted intervention, in association with For Love of All Pets (FLOAP), a Bengaluru-based organization that provides a platform for pet owners and pet service providers to connect and help each other.
“This workshop is to spread awareness about AAT and the right ways to do it. In a city like Bangalore, where there is so much accessibility and love for pets, AAT should not be misinterpreted. A lot of people are stepping out with their family dog, getting them to interact with people and calling such sessions AAT. This workshop will help explain the difference between such animal interaction sessions and AAT. We have always wanted to conduct awareness program about various benefits of pets and thus decided to conduct this workshop in collaboration with Animal Angels,” said Shruthi V Nithin, founder, FLOAP.
According to Shruthi, a therapy animal is not synonymous with a friendly animal. Before donning a therapist’s hat, an animal has to go through a step-by-step assessment session. “Assessment of the animal helps us understand if it can be a therapy animal or not. If yes, the animal is then analyzed which age group it can assist. For example, if the animal is slightly higher in energy levels, we use it in sessions with children and not the elderly, in general,” says Shruthi.
Training the animal, as well as the animal’s human companion, follows the assessment session. Moreover, it becomes absolutely mandatory that the animal plays an active part in the session and is not forced to carry on even if it doesn’t want to. “It is very important that the animal is not overburdened. It might be having a bad day and may not be keen on meeting people. In such a case, we do not push the animal. We respect its space and mood. During sessions, if the therapy animal wants to walk away, it’s allowed to do so,” says Shruthi.
According to Minal Kavishwar, founder, Animal Angels Foundation, a therapist conducting AAT should be a mental health practitioner. As per Minal, playing with a dog or just interacting with an animal cannot be termed as AAT.
“Many of these AAT sessions are conducted with children with special needs. These kids operate in different ways; have varied sensory needs and level of persistence. If the person carrying out the session is not aware of how to go about these kids and there is no one to guide, then there is risk of creating sensory overload in these kids. A person with mental health background will be able to plan the sessions in a professional way,” says Minal.
Whether you are a psychologist/psychiatrist looking to add more value to your sessions with AAT or a pet parent willing to get his/her animal assessed to find out if the animal can be trained for AAT, this workshop will guide you through.
“This workshop will be useful for professionals with a background in psychology who are working with humans conducting wellness program. We are also encouraging pet parents to attend the workshop to have an idea if their pets are potential therapy animals, ” says Shruthi. The workshop is also open to students or professionals who are interested in AAT and looking at future growth.
According to Anjana Thampy, animal-assisted psychotherapist based in Chennai, the workshop will also help people understand that breed of an animal has no role to play in therapy. “For example, an Indian breed or a street dog can be as good a therapist as a Labrador. Ultimately, it comes down to knowing your animals well. A dog is a dog. Breed dose not matter. Furthermore, using street dogs as therapy dogs can have larger effect on their population, community and on nation as whole,” said Anjana, who will be delivering the talk at the workshop.
The five hour long workshop has limited seats on offer and will be conducted on February 10. The participants will be awarded with certificate too.
Contact for registration: +91 88614 94808