Animal Assisted Therapy
Our unique and cutting-edge evidence-based therapeutic program led by Anita Schmidt, L.C.S.W., pairs private individual therapy sessions with the evidence-based practice of working in collaboration with a client's pet, or (if necessary) a specially assigned animal. A.A.T. gives clients the opportunity to observe processes such as; biofeedback, desensitization, counter conditioning, reading and assessing non-verbal body language, and more, from an external perspective. During the sessions the animal becomes an integral part of the therapeutic process, providing insight, intervention behaviors and support outside of the session. This process has proven effective in decreasing stress, improving coping skills, communication, and increasing social skills in clients of all ages. Every session is uniquely tailored to the needs and goals of the individual. Our program and scheduling software is HIPAA Compliant, to ensure the utmost discretion.
Anita Schmidt, L.C.S.W.
466 Central Ave., Suite 50
Northfield, IL 60093
United Behavioral Health (including EAP)
Optum Behavioral Health
Cigna Behavioral Health
Tricare Veterans Network (Humana)
V.A. Community Care Network (United Healthcare)
Research shows that children with pervasive developmental disorders benefit more from therapy while interacting with a live animal (Martin, F. and Farnum, J., 2002). Patients reported a reduction in symptoms of anxiety following A.A.T. in a hospital setting (Barker, S. and Dawson, K., 1998). In a meta-analysis by Niner and Lundahl, 2007, A.A.T. was associated with improved outcomes in persons with Autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being.
What to Expect
In the first session the therapist will discuss your goals with you, and together you will create a treatment plan. If you prefer to bring your pet to the A.A.T. sessions, they will be evaluated by the animal behavioral specialist during the first appointment to create a custom plan that works in harmony with your goals. In the following sessions you will work with the animal behavioral specialist to interact with your pet or a specially assigned animal in ways that are both engaging and insightful. In a session you might teach a complex task by breaking it down into very small steps, or teach the dog to recognize non-verbal body language cues and match them to an image, or help the dog to soothe himself using biofeedback. Every session is designed to be fun for you and the animal, and an exploration into new life skills.
Use this form to send us a message, and we will have an A.A.T. professional get in touch to answer your questions and information on how to get started with this program.