Therapy for children, Adolescents, Adults, Couples and families           

Animal Assisted Therapy


​Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) or Animal Assisted Play Therapy (AAPT) is counseling tools/techniques that incorporate an animal into treatment. Dogs, horses, cats, lizards and even dolphins are being used as therapy animals. Pathways to Growth Counseling, is excited to introduce Summer, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was adopted by director, Emily Cannon in the summer of 2013. 

AAT is conducted in many ways depending on client goals, the animal and the setting. Because many children, teens and adults enjoy being with animals, AAT can be beneficial for people who are resistant to treatment or have trouble accessing their emotions or expressing themselves in talk therapy. Examples of AAT activities include:

teaching a child to command the dog to sit, fetch shake etc. in a strong voice to improve self-confidence, having the animal facilitate imaginative play in order to bring to light subconscious emotions and having the animal present for petting in order to reduce stress and help the client express feelings, discuss problems or relate history.

Many children and adults are anxious about participating in therapy so one of Summer's most important duties is to reduce anxiety (a function that studies have shown to be effective). She accomplishes this with her gentle, non-judgmental, caring nature. Summer is included in treatment in a thoughtful manner to enhance facilitation of treatment goals. Most people have observed therapy dogs in a hospital, school or nursing home. A dog and handler may meet with patients, students and residents in order to raise morale, help with reading and increase socialization. These are actually examples of Animal Assisted Activities (AAA), although they may also be therapeutic.

Generally, people love pets, and therefore, Summer's introduction into the therapeutic process is a seamless one. Whether she is costumed as a superhero in a child-directed drama, being walked, brushed or petted by an adolescent or adult client, she makes the therapy more enjoyable and contributes to productive treatment. If a client is allergic or scared of dogs, Summer can be removed to another office.

Summer's sweet Cavalier disposition makes her a natural for the job and she looks forward to meeting you and helping to make your experience at Pathways to Growth Counseling a positive one!