What is the Difference between Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)?

Animal-assisted activities (AAA) provide opportunities for motivational, educational and/or recreational benefits to enhance a person’s quality of life. AAA are delivered by a professional, para-professional or volunteer who demonstrates knowledge about animals and the human populations with which they interact. As an example of AAA – an individual brings their dog to a long-term care facility to visit the residents. Although the staff is involved in the visits, no treatment goals have been set for the visit. Aside from signing in and out, no records are kept.

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is incorporated as an integral part of the clinical healthcare treatment process. AAT is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interactions.

Therapy animals are usually the personal pets of the handlers and accompany their handlers to the sites they visit. Therapy animals are usually not service animals. Federal law does not currently provide for the Therapy Animals to enter public places that have a “no pets” policy.