Animal Assisted Therapy

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a structured and goal orientated intervention that involves the deliberate incorporation of a trained and assessed therapy animal into pre-existing, evidence-based therapy modalities such as occupational therapy (International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organisations, 2015).

AAT utilises the amazing human-animal bond to enhance an individual’s engagement and experience of therapy sessions to increase skill development and therapeutic outcomes.

Animal Assisted Therapy at WHR Allied Health

Our occupational therapist, Melissa, and therapy dog, Barkley, completed their training and education through Lead the Way Institute and obtained their Provisional Handler and Visiting Therapy Dog Certification in July 2021.

Barkley is a Papillion x Cocker Spaniel who is 7 years old (although he still looks like a puppy!). Barkley is a very affectionate dog who loves interacting with people and receiving pats/cuddles.

Barkley has specific strengths in supporting individuals with anxiety management and emotional regulation and may assist individuals to develop their social skills and understanding of non-verbal cues/body language.

Differences between a Therapy Dog and Assistance Dogs:

The following infographic has been put together by WHR Allied Health to help you identify the different roles of Companion, Therapy and Assistant Dogs.

This infographic is based on an exceptional resource from ‘Lead The Way Psychology & Animal-Assisted Therapy’. If you’re reading this resource, please check out their excellent work at

Click the image below to see the infographic at full size: