The American Humane Association (AHA) recently launched an innovative program based upon the belief that therapy animals can help individuals who have suffered physical or emotional trauma. The Therapy Animals Supporting Kids (TASK)™ Program, co-created by AHA’s Allie Phillips and Diana McQuarrie, encourages and guides child welfare professionals on how to incorporate therapy animals into sessions with children who have been abused or neglected or who have witnessed violence. When children have suffered trauma, it is often difficult for them to speak of their experiences. According to AHA, therapy animals can help children become more open and promote the healing process in such venues as children’s advocacy centers and courtrooms.
To assist with program implementation, AHA has developed a Program Manual (pdf) that provides guidance for setting up an animal-assisted therapy program and safely working with therapy animals. The manual also covers the legal implications of effectively incorporating therapy animals in working with children. For more information about the Task Program e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.