Animal Assisted Therapy Sessions


What is A.A.T.?

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.

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.

Insurance Accepted: Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, United Healthcare PPO, Medicare, Compsych, Cigna, Optum. 

Proven Effective

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.

View the Studies

Anita Schmidt, L.C.S.W.


[email protected]

Sara Richter, CPDT-KA

Sara Richter, CPDT-KA Founder of Simply Animal Training LLC, began her professional training career in 2008 after 11 years as a student in the equestrian world. Sara began as an assistant horse trainer and horseback riding instructor for JGarvey Horsemanship. During the following 4 years she learned the ins and outs of positive reinforcement training, behaviorism, and operant conditioning. In 2013 Sara formed an equine training business known as Equestrianism. In 2014 Sara became a leader with the Local 4H where she taught children to use clicker training with numerous other animals including pigs, sheep, chickens, and even small animals. In 2014 Sara Joined forces with Root Dog Training LLC as a dog trainer, where she learned to translate her knowledge of learning theory and behaviorism, to the unique behaviors of canines. Sara is proud to continue offering Animal-friendly Force-Free services to pets and owners of all kinds. Sara is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed from the Certification Council For Professional Dog Trainers, and a Canine Life and Social Skills Evaluator with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. Sara is constantly advancing her education in animal training and behavior through continuing education, certification, and college courses.