What is Animal Assisted Play Therapy or AAPT?


AAPT is the integration of two therapeutic modalities:  play therapy and animal-assisted therapy.  AAPT’s main goal is to facilitate therapeutic change with the child and dog through a playful relationship. 

A Formal Definition from the literature:

“The integrated involvement of animals in the context of play therapy, in which appropriately-trained therapists and animals engage with children & families primarily in play interventions aimed at improving the child’s psychosocial health AND the animal’s well-being.”

Source: Play Therapy with Kids and Canines by Rise VanFleet

Below are some concerns that the child, therapist and play therapy dog may work on together:

  • Self-Efficacy/Confidence
  • Attachment/Relationship/Social Skills
  • Empathy Development
  • Self-Regulation of Emotions & Behaviors
  • Problem Solving
  • Anxiety, Fears, Phobias
  • Trauma
  • Anger Management/Aggressive Tendencies


If you feel that AAPT may be a therapy option for your child, contact us!