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The P.A.C.E. Model for Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI)

The P.A.C.E. Model for AAI (formerly named Tri-Balance Model) (Bailey, 2013)
provides a framework that can be used to assess rigor, goals and objectives, risk management,
and precautions in each AAI session, and is an illustration of the ever-changing, dynamic
relationship that happens during AAI sessions. The P.A.C.E. Model for AAI is also a method
to provide oversight to the design, implementation, and evaluation of AAI sessions.
There are four components present in every AAI session and are represented by colored balls
in the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI (see diagram, last page). The four components are practitioner,
animal, client, and environment, and together, they set the pace for AAI sessions.
Practitioner The identified person(s) who plans, leads, and holds responsibility for his
or her AAI sessions.
Animal The identified animal(s) that is assisting in facilitating AAI services.
Client The identified person(s) who is receiving AAI services and may also be listed as
a participant, student, members of a group, family, or individual.
Environment The identified location where AAI services are held, as well as the greater
environmental milieu.
Connecting Lines between Components
Each of the four components has a relationship to each other, and these relationships are
signified by the lines drawn between each of the components. Although drawn as such in this
two-dimensional model, it is important to note this line is not static in its length, strength, or
consistency and is constantly changing to reflect the connection between each pair of

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Reciprocal Interactions
The process and results created by the four components in the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI
practitioner, client, environment, and animal is called reciprocal because there is a constant
give-and-take throughout the AAI session.
Qualities of Competence (QOC)
Each component of the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI brings a level of skill or training to
each AAI session called Quality of Competence or QOC. The QOC is represented as a gauge,
like the fuel level in a car, with a plus sign and minus sign, and is not meant to denote
good or bad. The greater the competence each component brings to the AAI session, the
higher that component is listed on the gauge. Furthermore, a components QOC can be
strengthened or weakened if the relationship it shares with another component is similarly strong
or weak.
The concept of balance in the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI does not mean equality, rather,
it is the assessment of each components QOC and the endeavor to fit components together that
complement each other, not produce a deficit in safety, and provide a level of optimal benefit for
all involved in AAI sessions.
Areas of consideration for each component of the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI
Practitioner Depending on the overall needs of the identified client, animal, and
environment, individuals providing AAI sessions may include more than one person and
more than one professional discipline. Sometimes, a facility is highly unstable and some
practitioners may serve as milieu support. Because they are employed at this facility and
can anticipate the slightest changes or concerns, their QOC for the environment is high

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and this helps to balance the QOC for the other practitioner. Together, both can attend to
the animal(s), client(s), and environment with integrity.
Animal One size does not fit all; therefore, best practices calls for the identified
animal to have specific training and temperament suited for the goals and objectives of
each AAI session. Occasionally, animals that are not identified and that are not trained
will become part of AAI sessions and can be considered ad hoc program animals. Such
ad hoc program animals happen when observing the larger milieu of the AAI session,
when the AAI session takes place outside, or when working in a setting where multiple
other animals reside, like a horse barn or dog training center. Like with practitioners,
these ad hoc program animals are considered milieu support and will impact the overall
AAI session.
Client Whether individual or group, the client has a tremendous amount of leverage in
changing the reciprocal interaction of the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI. All AAI sessions
start and end with the client in mind and it is because of the clients identified and
unidentified needs that the AAI session exists in the first place.
Environment Examples of identified locations may be a horse stall, training center,
hospital room, chicken coop, or therapy office. The larger milieu of these areas would
include the natural world both indoors and outside in which each of these locations
exist. For example, factors to consider with a hospital room would include how recently
was the room cleaned, is the room near a busy nursing station, is the room well-lit or
have a window, and is there an option to adjust the rooms temperature.

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Applying the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI: Case example

A practitioner, Sophie, has raised and shown Boer goats for 15 years and currently has a
small herd on her hobby farm. She is enrolled in an undergraduate degree in nursing. Her
required internship matches her with a 30-bed treatment facility for adolescents with eating
disorders. Over her year-long clinical internship, she monitors the health of all in-patient clients
involved in weekly fieldtrips to a working farm where they complete farm chores, groom
animals, tend the garden and crops, and learn basic animal husbandry. This working farm
includes horses, llamas, sheep, goats, geese, and rabbits. The owners of the working farm have
trained the llamas and goats to drive, and the rabbits to walk on a harness so they can make
monthly visits to a local nursing home facility. Upon receiving her degree and passing the
licensure exam to be a registered nurse, Sophie is hired by the eating-disorders center and is
given the opportunity to expand the current AAI program for patients in the day-treatment
Using the P.A.C.E. Model for AAI to develop AAI sessions, the practitioner (Sophie) does
a P.A.C.E. assessment for each components QOC, relationship with the other components, and
resulting reciprocal relationship when all components come together. Items she might consider:
Practitioner Her QOC working with a new group of patients, skill and confidence
working with non-Bovidae (goat) species, her relationship with support staff, and her
familiarity with the environment of the working farm.
Animal Each animals QOC working with a new group of patients, each animals
training and temperament, each animals relationship with others on the farm, vaccination
and illness records for each animal, and who is each animals advocate or handler who

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will provide the highest level of care and oversight when the animal works in AAI
Client The QOC of a new group of patients to receive AAI services, each group
members physical ability, known allergies, fears, or history of violence or aggression
towards animals by any member in this new group.
Environment The QOC of the environment at this working farm to host a new group of
patients to receive AAI sessions, the daily routine at this farm that would allow the group
to arrive when operations are more quiet and predictable, and considering what qualities
are inherent to this working farm (i.e., animals sold for breeding or butchering, and if
these aspects are counter-indicated for this new group of patients).
If Sophie decides to move forward with the AAI services expansion, the P.A.C.E.
Model for AAI gives her ample checks-and-balances to apply to her new role. She would
score a low QOC because she is new as a registered nurse, new in designing AAI sessions, new
to a different patient group at the hospital, and still fairly new in working with animals other than
goats at this working farm facility. As she spends more time in each of these areas, receives
additional training, and works with different animal species, her QOC will also increase.
Therefore, to help her balance her current level of QOC, she could start by co-facilitating with
other practitioners who have more QOC in regards to specific animal species or the needs of the
outpatient population. To help her balance her QOC with the animals, she could work with just
the goats at this new farm facility as she already comes with 15 years of competence working
with goats. However, she cannot assume one goat is just like the next and she must still put in the
time and effort to work with each goat individually and build her relationship with each goat. To
help her balance her QOC with clients, she could opt to continue the current in-patient group at

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the farm, and only work with her new outpatient group on hospital grounds until she gains
competency in this new groups different needs and expectations. By continuing the AAI
program with the current group of patients at the farm, she also continues to build her QOC in
the environment of the farm. Session by session, she will start to notice pieces of the larger
environmental milieu and in turn, this helps inform her subsequent practice with any new group
of clients.