The European Commission supported this project financially, through the Lifelong Learning Programme, Grundtvig Learning Partnerships, it lasted from August 2013 until July 2015.
This project involved organisations from seven European Union countries who, as a learning partnership, shared the experiences and tools developed in each partner organisation, to support the use of animal assisted therapy with people with diverse needs and disabilities. All partners involve animals in therapeutic intervention although some partners have more significant and structured programmes than others. We all recognize that involving animals can be a valuable element of the services we provide and we hope that by sharing it with others, we will encourage the spread of interesting and rewarding animal assisted therapies.
The objectives of the partnership were:
1. To find the best experiences and tools used in Europe in work with animals for the development of people with disabilities
2. To prepare educational materials (handbook, films) that could be used by professionals to improve their work with Animal Assisted Therapies and/ or Animal Assisted Activities
3. To make the results of the partnership available not only to the partner organisations, but to the professionals and the public in Europe and potentially beyond
Animal therapies are a relatively new way of working with disabled people and often, professionals face a lack of information and support or training materials. We hope this project helps to fill this need and provide ideas and methods, both to the project participants and to other professionals in Europe and beyond. We acknowledge that there are different ways of providing therapeutic support and we do not endorse any particular methods.
The use of dolphins in therapy is considered controversial by some and Doctor Brigita Kreiviniene from the Lithuanian Sea Museum, one of our partners in this project, discusses some of the research and knowledge around this in Appendix Two, we suggest that everyone should do their own research to come to a view on this.
We have extracted the most important and the best methods and experiences to create this small handbook and some short films for those that want to work in this field. We are concentrating on Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), a more rigorous approach using trained therapists and Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) using more informal activities and approaches.
People with disabilities have been involved in planning and delivering the project at all stages. The partnership organized transnational meetings, seminars and conferences with experts from the Third Sector and organisations specialising in Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT) and Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) and visits to institutions and organisations working in this field in the partner countries. We also involved local students, specialists and other stakeholders.
We have made the results available to as many people as possible, through web-based www.grundtvigpat1.jimdo.com and regular dissemination channels such as meetings, information and memo releases, press releases and events.
Sharing learning across the project has brought and will continue to bring benefits to people with disabilities who are in need of effective support to help reduce isolation and support development and active citizenship.