Leanne Winter, Animal Assisted Therapy , Dog, Casper, Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists
Leanne Winter &
Casper AAT Certified
Portrait of Casper illustrated by local artist Mark 2014. Animal Assisted Therapy, Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists

A portrait of Casper illustrated by Mark,
local artist. 2014

Animal Assisted Therapy

Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists offer Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for children, adolescents, adults and families. Animal Assisted Therapy is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment and has been shown to have a number of positive benefits.  Our clinic specialises in Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs to help assist our clients. AAT has gained significant recognition in America, however the use of animals to assist with therapy appears to be in its infancy in Australia.

Our Psychologists at Mullum Road Clinic, complete Professional Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Courses for Human-Canine Teams. This is run by Alpha Professional Canine Trainers and ‘Lead the Way’ Psychologist Melanie Jones.

Ways AAT can be helpful

  • Animals can teach empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills;
  • Help individuals develop social skills;
  • The relationship between therapy animals and the therapist can be a model for a healthy relationship;
  • The presence of animals is soothing and can more quickly build the therapeutic relationship for children, adolescents and adults.
  • Therapy dogs have skills that make them able to pick up social cues imperative to human relationships. Therapists then can process that information and use it to help clients see how their behavior affects others.
  • Patting an animal has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure, lower anxiety and lessen stress.
  •  It has been shown that animals have the potential to lower human anxiety by simply being present.

Research that shows how AAT works:

Animal-Assisted Therapy for Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Results show that children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) exhibited a more playful mood, were more focused, and were more aware of their social environments when in the presence of a therapy dog. These findings indicate that interaction with dogs may have specific benefits for this population and suggest that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) maybe an appropriate form of therapy.

SAGE Journals
Source: 2015 Western Journal of Nursing Research (WJNR)
By Francois Martin and Jennifer Farnum

AAT Training

Mullum Road Clinic therapy dogs receive training and certification.  Our human-canine teams aquire skills to work together in professional therapy settings (such as Animal-Assisted Therapy – AAT). Some of our Teams attended the Foundation AAI and Therapy-Dog certification course, a six day intensive course. This course involves a Workplace Assessment, visiting with a group of children or an aged care facility. This gives you working experience in visiting therapeutic settings.

Below is Psychologist Tess Shashyan with therapy dog Milo, showing an example of AAT training – role play. This was a successful training exercise, completed on day 5 of the course. Also with the participation of a dog trainer from Alpha Canine Professional.  More information about Alpha Dog Training can be found on the Links page.

AAT at Mullum Road Clinic

Animal Assisted Therapy Human-Canine Team Leanne Winter and Casper were the first to complete an Animal Assisted Therapy Course together.

Psychologist Leanne Winter and Casper work with children, adolescents and adults in the clinical setting. Casper has been helpful in working with children on the autism spectrum. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders frequently experience sensory processing difficulties.

Initially it was quite difficult having Casper in the therapy room, as he had so much energy. Asking Casper to remain calm and drop in for extended periods was a challenge. These days however, Casper has adapted well to working in the clinic. Casper is now able to remain in a drop for the entire session (50 minutes) if required.

Below you can find an example of Casper assisting an individual manage and recover from a fear of dogs.

For more information about our Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs at Mullum Road Clinic, refer to the Therapy Dog page

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

Three happy and satisfied participants! Sessions over! Well done.

Animal Assisted Therapy, Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

The child presented with a significant fear of dogs

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

A few sessions into therapy, the boy began to engage with Casper.

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

Feeding Casper was all part of the experience.

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

Playing with the dinosaur puppets was a fun distraction.

Animal Assisted Therapy, Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

A fun visit to the park became a regular event in the sessions.

Animal assisted Therapy (AAT), Mullum Road Clinic Psychologists, Psychologist

By about session six, a walk along the footpath.