In my experience AAT in C has been very effective when utilized with eligible youth and adults who struggle with complex trauma in a number of ways. For example, I (and AAT) have come to work with a youth who, after suffering from neglect by her birth mother who at the time struggled with addiction, was apprehended by Children’s Aid Society and placed with an adoptive family where she experienced sexual abuse from the older biological son of the adoptive parents. After the son was sentenced this youth experienced rejection and abandonment again by her adoptive parents who returned her to CAS. I met this young lady at a therapeutic group home where she exhibited extreme suicidality and significant self-harm, inability to regulate her emotions, or form healthy attachments. After a few months of AAT and counselling this youth had begun to learn how to manage her PTSD symptoms in a healthier manner, began utilizing grounding techniques and compassion towards herself with the assistance of the AAT dog Gemma. After establishing a sense of safety and containment from this relationship, Hazel was introduced to her therapy and assisted the youth in learning how to regulate her emotional energy by reflecting it back to her while sitting on her lap in sessions where trauma processing took place. Gemma and Hazel have since facilitated the youth learning how to compartmentalize her trauma, self soothe, trust, utilize non-violent communication and healthy coping activities.
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Case example of AAT with Trauma Clients*