So, What Exactly is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

TALES BLOG / So, What Exactly is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

As Hand in Paw's new Director of Communications, I'm eager to learn all there is to know about Animal-Assisted Therapy!

Before we start, I'd like to properly introduce myself to the Hand in Paw community. I'm Michael Hansen, and I recently joined the HIP team as the Director of Communications. I succeeded Brittany Filby, who held this role for the past six years. Prior to joining HIP, I spent nearly eight years as the Executive Director of GASP, a local nonprofit known as the Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution. I left that position last year to take a break and focus on my family, and joining HIP has been a very pawsitive experience so far.Β 

I am a huge animal lover. I always have been and I always will be. That's my dog Hugo and me, pictured above, at the Hand in Paw office preparing for Mutt Strut. He's about as sweet as can be, but he's not a Hand in Paw Therapy Dog. Well, not yet at least! You can read more about me on our staff page.

OK, let's get into it! I first learned about Hand in Paw around thirteen years ago when the office was located in the Five Points South neighborhood. I was captivated by the organization's mission, but at the time, I didn't have the opportunity to volunteer. Nevertheless, Hand in Paw left a lasting impression on me and earned my utmost respect and admiration.

Now that I'm part of the team, I'm fully immersed in the world of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) jargon and cheesy dog puns β€” which I absolutely love! Naturally, one of the first things I did upon joining was to delve deeper into researching AAT and related animal interventions. I've also accompanied Stephanie and the Therapy Teams on several visits to firsthand witness our programs in action. What I've learned has been truly inspiring!