Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Volunteers
Ways to Help
We provide an Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program to patients and their families for therapeutic purposes. Scientific research has shown a patient's interaction with an animal can provide positive physical and emotional benefits. It can reduce stress levels and invoke a sense of well-being. AAT acts as a catalyst to motivate patients to help themselves. Among the benefits of animal-assisted therapy are the ways it motivates children to:
- Get up, move, walk, leave their room and play.
- Participate in therapy (physical, occupational and speech).
- Forget their discomfort or pain.
- Interact more with others.
- Improve their mood.
- Improve their interactions with family and staff.
- Do things that may be a struggle, such as eating, taking medication or waiting.
Volunteering with a Pet
If you would like to volunteer with your pet, first you become registered as a therapy animal team. Our Paws Can Heal therapy animal teams are nationally registered and have 3 to 12 months of experience.
Phoenix Children's recognizes three national organizations:
- Pet Partners: www.petpartners.org
- Therapy Dogs International: www.tdi-dog.org
- Alliance of Therapy Dogs, formerly known as Therapy Dogs Inc.: www.therapydogs.com
An evaluator will test you and your pet. Your pet needs to be calm, predictable, pass basic obedience skills and be comfortable in a variety of settings.
Once you have 3 to 12 months experience as a therapy animal team, your next step is to attend a Volunteer Information Session. The sessions are available at the Hospital or online. All those interested in volunteering must attend this one-hour session, and you'll learn the steps needed to become a Phoenix Children's in-hospital volunteer. (No pets at this session.)
Volunteering without a Pet
Whether or not you have a pet, you can still volunteer as part of our Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program! We need volunteers to go with each Paws Can Heal team on their AAT visits. They help keep our patients safe, gather data on the patient visit and help patients meet their treatment goals.
All prospective volunteers must attend a Volunteer Information Session as the initial step to volunteer.
We look forward to having you join our program!