Canine-Assisted Therapy (C.A.T.)

Research and Benefits

First records of utilizing animals to assist in psychological therapies stem from the late 18th century. Both facilities, the Bethlem Hospital and The York Retreat in England believed in the effectiveness of animals for socialization and as positive influence of self-esteem and self-confidence of their patients. Sigmund Freud also noticed that a dog’s attendance of therapy sessions supported patients to relax and to open up more. Freud's dog regularly attended therapy sessions.

For more information about research studies on the effectiveness of Canine Assisted Therapy see Department of Defense (DoD), World Spaceflight News, U.S. Military, 2012. Canine-Assisted Therapy in Military Medicine: Dogs and Human Mental Health, Wounded Warriors, Occupational Therapy, Combat Veterans, History of Army Dogs, PTSD, Nonmilitary Settings, Stress Control. Kindle ed. s.l.:Progressive Management.

  • Comfort a client who is upset;
  • Act as a bridge to bring up difficult issues or feelings;
  • Bring a smile to a client’s face when they are sad or angry;
  • Increased focus and attention;
  • Increased self-esteem and ability to care for oneself;
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, grief and isolation;
  • Reduced blood pressure, depression, and risk of heart attack or stroke;
  • Improved willingness to be involved in a therapeutic program or group activity;
  • Increased trust, empathy and teamwork;
  • Greater self-control;
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills;
  • Reduced need for medication;
  • Improved social skills: Positive social interactions with dogs can lead to positive human interactions.