We are a non-profit organization supporting Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs)

News from AAII!

We have some exciting news to share! AAII is getting a new name!

You will remember that the recommendations for terminology in our field included moving away from the word ‘intervention’ and towards ‘services’. After consultation with members and the recent voting process at our Annual and Special General Meeting, we can confirm that we will be changing our name to ‘Animal Assisted Services International’. This is a really exciting change and we want to thank all those who took the time out to get involved in the process.

The next step will be to look at all our documents, website and of course the logo and make the changes we will need. If any members would like to support this work please do let us know! We also will welcome member input around the other areas of our work that may be impacted by the recommended terminology changes, and we will gradually make further adaptations, some of which will require further votes.

We hope you are excited to see our organisation continue to evolve, we will keep you updated on progress. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and if you have any questions please do get in contact with us

Best wishes,

Selina

Binder, A. J., Parish-Plass, N., Kirby, M., Winkle, M., Skwerer, D. P., Ackerman, L., … & Wijnen, B. (2024). Recommendations for uniform terminology in animal-assisted services (AAS). Human-Animal Interactions12(1).

Abstract

“Through the years, the range of services involving animals benefiting people, often described as “animal-assisted interventions” (AAIs), has been plagued with confusing and inconsistent taxonomy, terminology, and definitions. This has caused difficulties for the delineation of roles of service providers, for the recipients of services, as well as for the preparation, training, and expectations of the animals that work in different roles. It can be argued that these difficulties have compromised the development of the field in terms of establishing agreed standards of practice, qualifications, and competencies and adopting good animal welfare practices. It has also likely limited the base of evidence, as search terms used to access studies are not consistent, and study protocols are difficult to compare, lacking uniformity in terminology. Additionally, the current terminology cannot accommodate the 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 article 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” (Binder et al., 2024).

Dear friends and colleagues,

 

Happy New Year! I have had the pleasure of being a co-founder of Animal Assisted Intervention International and the first and only chair/president in our 10 years. Our board of directors is amongst the best I have ever worked with, always professional, friendly, and open minded. I am so proud to have chaired a board in which people from around the world all got along and worked tirelessly to grow this incredible organization. When people ask what it is like working with this group, I always say that we all play well with others. As AAII grew and formed professional and friendly relationships with other organizations, I realized how very true my statement has been. One of our goals was to create collaborations with other well-respected organizations in the field. We have developed some great relationships and done impressive collaborative work. Shouldn’t that be the goal for all organizations? We have so much to learn from each other, and so much to share.

 

Another of our goals was to ensure that our organization was member driven. When AAII began, we wanted to fill a gap for the practitioner side of AAIs, to include dog trainers and advocates to ensure that practices were ethical, considered welfare for both humans and dogs, and created processes to guide practices.  We created working groups with our members to develop standards, competencies and an accreditation that met needs internationally. We asked leadership from other organizations to review our work and we received excellent feedback. It is all a reflection of you, our trusted members and advocates of animals. We still have a lot that we want to accomplish, and look forward to ongoing collaboration with our members, our colleagues from other organizations, and from practitioners from several related fields around the world.

 

As we move forward to our 11th anniversary on the 7th of February (2013), I will be stepping aside into the vice-chair/president position. We feel fortunate that Selina Gibsone will be taking the reins as the Chair of AAII. We have worked together in AAII since before AAII was an official organization. She has extensive education and experience as both a healthcare provider and a dog trainer. She is diplomatic, adventurous, takes only calculated risks, and is one of the best listeners and contemplators I have had the pleasure of working with.  I am confident that Selina will continue to steer our organization in the direction of stability and growth and continue to play well with others. The past decade has brought incredible satisfaction to my career, and I am so grateful that all of you contributed to make that happen.  Let’s bring in 2024 with a new energy, please help me welcome Selina Gibsone!

 

 

 

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPDT-KA

Vice-chair, AAII

 

 

I am delighted to be taking on the position of chair of AAII, I have been involved since the inception of the organization and I look forward to navigating the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for the leadership Melissa has provided for AAII, it simply would not have got to where it has without her. Melissa’s dedication and hard work have meant AAII has become a great organization and I am truly honored to follow in her footsteps.  As I step into the role of chair, I am keenly aware of the high standard set by Melissa and I am committed to upholding the values and principles that she has championed. I feel grateful that Melissa and the rest of the board will be alongside me as I embark on this new chapter.  


Selina Gibsone 

Chair, AAII

AAII celebrates our official legal 9th anniversary on February 7th!

We invite you to celebrate with us by posting brief commentaries about your favorite things within your own day to day AAIs & we want to see your dogs between now and February 15th! Don’t forget to say Happy Birthday to AAII!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/288639221245400

 

While the past two years have required us to distance, in many ways we are closer than ever. At this point in time, we have so many shared experiences, so many stories of change and of loss.  But if we can take a step back to reflect on other things the pandemic has brought, we can begin to heal, gain strength, and move forward.  We have become resilient and adaptable, flexible and more creative. Many AAI programs seemed to come to a sudden halt, but that brought time for reflection and reorganization for the next chapter.  We have all learned so much over the past two years.

 

So many speakers in AAIs and dog training delivered incredible workshops and strategies that made us better handlers and caregivers to our animals, and better practitioners in our specialty areas. We learned new online platforms, and suddenly all of our worlds came together again as we shared the same classrooms, experiences, wisdom, and exchanged ideas with just one click! We also cultivated new relationships.

 

AAII has been working with the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) on several short and long term professional development projects, together we have fostered additional collaborations with several other international organizations specializing in AAIs. We are all coming together to professionalize AAIs at an international level, representing different regions, disciplines and organizations. Our world-wide collaboration on social media is called The International Consortium for Animal Assisted Interventions (IC-AAI).  We anticipate exploration of several professional issues, and hope you will consider being a part of the discussion.

 

The Board of Directors and working group members found themselves dedicating a lot of time and energy fine-tuning Standards, Competencies and modifying accreditation to better fit the outcomes of a world pandemic. After years of reviewing literature, public visionary meetings and working groups, we believe we have developed the most complete standards. Then, with your help, and with a solid foundation from Dr. Leslie Stewart, we built competencies that are meant to guide our members in offering the most ethical and knowledgeable practices. Those two official documents made it possible to build a peer reviewed accreditation process. AAII now offers 3 different accreditations tracks: By portfolio, virtually and in-person. As of January 2022, we have successfully accredited 4 of our ‘test’ member organizations (2 in the US and 2 in Europe), each having gone through all 3 accreditation tracks. We will release the official application for accreditation soon in a member forum.

 

Our 2021 non-traditional virtual conference was well-received with speakers offering our members additional free or discounted coursework. Our video library of webinars and conference sessions will soon be available. Finally, we now host AAII Thursdays at 11:00 am (US- Eastern Time), 16:00 (UK GMT) as follows. Please check social media to see if something is scheduled.

 

 

We invite our members to submit webinars or workshops just like you would for conference. They will be live and recorded so we may offer consistent continuing education to our members. We will likely have a virtual conference for 2022 between September and December- we will make announcements soon. Contact Phoebe for inquiries at coordinator@aai-int.org.

 

Cheers to all of you for a healthier and happier 2022!

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPDT-KA

AAII Co-founder and President

Griz & Gertie Photo Credit Winkle.