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Animal Assisted Play Therapy

By Risë VanFleet, Tracie Faa-Thompson

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Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ is the culmination of the authors' combined 75 years of experience working with animals as a part of their therapeutic practice. Professional practitioners, as well as the paraprofessionals who work in tandem with them, will find this book of enormous value. While the focus is on mental health professionals, the approach and methods covered can easily be adapted for use by allied health professionals, such as physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapists as well as those in the educational field such as teachers and school counselors. Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ (AAPT) adds the elements of playfulness, humor, and lightness to the therapeutic process, and can be helpful with clients of all ages. The book focuses heavily on relationships: how the relationship between therapist and animal must be developed in positive, mutually respectful ways in which the animals have a voice and choice whenever possible. This in turn provides a model for clients to help them strengthen their own relationships, not only with therapy animals and their own companion animals, but within the human relationships in their families and communities. The authors demonstrate how the techniques can be readily applied with dogs, horses, cats, and other animals. Many illustrative case examples are included. Emphasis is placed on professional competencies, the power of play, the centrality of relationship, and the essential ethics and animal welfare attitudes and practices that form the core of AAPT. Forewords by Aubrey H. Fine and Patricia McConnell. The book has been reviewed extremely favorably by numerous leaders in the field, as well as independent reviews by major professional organizations. It has received the 2018 Maxwell Award for the best book written on the human-animal bond by the Dog Writers Association of America.

Date 2017
Edition first
Pages 422
ISBN/ISSN 978-1-56887-217-9
Publisher Professional Resource Press
Location of Publication PO Box 3197, Sarasota, Florida 34230-3197 USA
Language English
Author Address Risë VanFleet, Ph.D., RPT-S, CDBC, International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy®, PO Box 613, Boiling Springs, PA 17007 USA (
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Risë VanFleet; Tracie Faa-Thompson (2019), "Animal Assisted Play Therapy,"

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  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Education
  6. Health
  7. Human-animal bond
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Mental health practice
  10. Working animals