Faculty Publications

Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ as a Polyvagal Process

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Book Chapter

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Polyvagal Power in the Playroom: A Guide for Play Therapists

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Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ (AAPT) is a specific approach to working with clients requiring specialized training and considerations. Two specific components of Polyvagal theory (neuroception of safety and self-regulation) provide a theoretical structure from which one can understand some of the effects of AAPT on the therapist, the animal involved, and the client. Both neuroception of safety and co-regulation are based on relational interactions. AAPT creates a sense of neuroception of safety through the relationships involved (child/animal, child/therapist, and therapist/animal). Co-regulation occurs through interactions between the client, therapist, and animal and can be bridged to opportunities to help the client develop self-regulation. In AAPT, reciprocal relationships based on respect, empathy, and playfulness provide the foundation for client growth by providing the client the neuroception of safety and a sense of co-regulation.


Department of Social Work

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