Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) is the overarching term that encompasses a variety of beneficial activities with animals.
Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) is the service typically referred to as ‘pet therapy’ where volunteers take their specially trained, tested, and registered pets for short visits (no more than 2 hours and no more than 2-3 times per week) to visit with persons in an effort to provide therapeutic intervention for those who are ill, stressed or otherwise permanently or situationally disadvantaged.
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a specialty clinical practice for a variety of healthcare occupations that includes animals and or the animal environment as an integral part of the treatment service. AAT has specialty standards, evidence-based competencies of practice, and nationally and internationally recognized professional association registration/accreditation/provider credentialing standards for different sub-disciplines.
Animal Assisted Education (AAE) is like AAT except that the animals and/or animal environment are an integral component of the curriculum, classroom experience, and/or a specific intervention intending to positively impact the learning and/or educational experience of the student(s). AAE utilizes experiential education theories as to the foundation for efficacy and validity for the practice.
Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) is a subset of AAI that is an advanced practice skill and registration for all AAI disciplines. AACR is the practice of including specially prepared AAI providers and their animal partners with/as first responders to a community crisis. AACR has a separate and distinct registration and requires an advanced level of AAI practice prior to registration.
AAT and AAE require specialized formal training, preparation, and supervised experience for the providers/educators to ensure ethical and best practices in human and animal welfare are foundational to the services provided.