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Recommendations for Uniform Terminology in Animal-Assisted Services (AAS)

Room C

0.5 CE Hours

Presented By

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    In-Person, Live Webinar



Through the years, the range of services involving animals benefiting people, often described as “animal-assisted interventions” (AAIs), are plagued with confusing and inconsistent taxonomy, terminology, and definitions. This causes difficulties for the delineation of service provider roles, service recipients, and for the preparation, training, and expectations of the animals performing work in different roles. Arguably, these difficulties compromise field development in terms of establishing agreed upon standards of practice, qualifications, and competencies and adopting good animal welfare practices. It also likely limits the evidence base since search terms are not consistent, and study protocols are difficult to compare, lacking uniformity in terminology.


Additionally, current terminology cannot accommodate expansion and diversification of programs in recent years, which is likely to continue as the field evolves. Establishing internationally agreed upon uniform taxonomy, terminology, and definitions is crucial to more accurately reflect the key features of different approaches, to define the scope and competencies for different service providers and their animals, to provide transparency about services for recipients, and to ensure the appropriate preparation, training, and support of the animals that work with them. The recommendations in this presentation are the result of an international work group that convened over the course of two years.


The umbrella term animal-assisted services (AAS) is proposed, defined as services that are facilitated, guided or mediated by a health or human service provider or educator, who works with and maintains the welfare of a specially alongside a specially qualifying animal to provide therapeutic, educational, supportive and/or ameliorative processes aimed at enhancing the well-being of humans. AAS are further categorized into three main areas: treatment, education, and support programs. A recommendation for provider-specific terminology is also suggested. The aim of these proposals is to set clear expectations and boundaries for each specialty of practice, without compromising the richness and diversity of each approach. The adoption of this new umbrella term and its categories is intended to improve clarity for all involved in the receipt and delivery of services, as well as for those who study their effects.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • An explanation will be provided of the complications created for service providers, clients, research and training programs by the current terminology in the area of what has been referred to as Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI), but recommended to be named Animal-Assisted Services (AAS). Attendees will come to understand the need for clear definitions of these services and the need for clear differentiation between them.

  • Attendees will learn the recommended changes in the terminology relating to various Animal-Assisted Services. Also included in the presentation will be the goals and description of each service as well as the credentials, qualifications and training needed to provide each of these AAS.

CE Policy
This course is fiscally sponsored by International Association of Veterinary Social Work . There may be potential biases or conflicts of interest inherent to this relationship, and it must be disclosed to participants. These conflicts of interest have no bearing on the course content and have been resolved.
Amy Johnson Binder
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