Animal Assisted Learning

 
Author: Hannah Burgon
Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship CIC, UK
 
Abstract:

The health benefits of interaction with horses for people experiencing mental health and other conditions is fast gaining recognition all over the world. This book explores the experiences of seven 'at-risk' young people who participated in a research study based at a unique therapeutic horsemanship centre in the UK. Therapeutic horsemanship is aligned to the developing fields of equine-assisted psychotherapy and equine-assisted learning where horses are partnered for social, emotional and learning benefits. The young people who attended the Therapeutic Horsemanship centre were referred from organisations including a foster care agency, youth offending team and a pupil referral unit, and were considered to be 'at-risk' due to their various psychosocial disadvantages. A number of themes emerge throughout the course of the book, including the areas of nurture, attachment and trust, social well-being and resilience, identification with the horse, a 'safe' space and calming influence, role of the horse in the therapeutic arena and the natural environment and spiritual dimensions. Additional links to the mindfulness literature are explored and bring an exciting new dimension to the field of equine assisted therapy and learning. The book includes a foreword from Leif Hallberg, author of Walking the Way of the Horse.

 

Authors: Brooke Vincent, Caley Kropp, Andrew M. Byrne

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
University of North Carolina
Ohio University

 

Abstract:

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) occurs as a result of alcohol consumption by a woman during pregnancy. Infants with FASD may have lifelong cognitive, behavioral, physical, or learning disabilities as a result. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of goal-oriented therapy for improving social, emotional, cognitive, and physical functioning. The use of animal-assisted therapy has been found effective in the treatment of some disabilities; however there is a paucity of literature ad dressing this therapy for individuals with FASD. This article provides rehabilitation counselors with an overview of FASD, followed by are view of AAT, and then an application of AAT to developmental disabilities and more specifically to FASD.

 

Authors: Lori Friesen & Esther Delisle

 

Abstract:

Over the last 20 years or so, the popularity of animal-assisted literacy learning programs has gained momentum in schools and libraries around the world (Intermountain Th erapy Animals, 2011). To date, such programs are currently running in four Canadian provinces and 43 U.S. states, as well as in Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, and India (Land of PureGold Foundation, 2009). To skeptics, it would seem that these programs are popular simply for their novelty eff ect. However, a deeper examination of the state of literacy education in North America reveals essential underlying reasons why these programs may off er timely and unique support for young learners. Situated within the broader context of literacy education and grounded in research and literacy theory, we offer concrete examples in this article of the unique and valuable social, emotional, and academic support that animal-assisted learning can provide children. Specifically, we consider how an animal and a caring adult mentor can contribute to establishing and nurturing a supportive learning environment, and can off er genuine and unique opportunities for both “constrained and unconstrained” literacy development (Paris, 2005).​

 

Author: Allison Bell

University of Toronto

 

Abstract:

The Gerstein Science Information Centre is the Science and Health Sciences library serving the University of Toronto community. As the second largest library on campus, Gerstein is a mecca for studying and can accommodate 1100 students. Research has shown that high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders are prevalent among both medical students and the student population as a whole. In recent years, Gerstein staff members have seen evidence of the rising levels of student stress in their dealings with the public while providing reference and research help. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is often used in hospital and rehabilitation settings and, most recently, to help young children learn to read by providing a stress-free learning environment in public libraries and schools. Studies on animal-assisted therapy have shown that AAT decreases blood pressure, cortisol, and reduces anxiety overall. In response to these findings, staff at Gerstein decided to implement an AAT program, "Paws for a Study Break," comprised of several sessions when a therapy dog and her handler would visit the library to hold 'office hours' and give students a break from their studying during the Winter 2012 exam period. Through a total of six visits of ninety minutes each, 417 visitors were received. Best practices and lessons learned are discussed, including steps involved in coordination of the event, working with volunteers, publicity avenues, dealing with media requests, costs involved, and evaluation techniques. Based on the completed evaluation forms, the response to the therapy dog program at Gerstein was overwhelmingly positive; students were very appreciative, and there are plans underway to repeat this program on an ongoing basis.

 

Author: Hannah Louise Burgon

 

Abstract:

There is a significant body of research into the benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) but less into the fields known as equine-assisted learning and therapy (EAL/EAT) where horses are incorporated in therapeutic and learning interventions. This paper explores the experiences of seven ‘at-risk’ young people who participated in a therapeutic horsemanship (TH) programme. The study followed a practice-near approach seeking to capture the young people’s experiences within a participative ethnography. Themes related to the risk and resilience literature such as self-confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy and a sense of mastery, empathy and the opening of positive opportunities are explored in this paper.

  •  Brief Report: The Smiles of a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder During an Animal-assisted Activity May Facilitate Social Positive Behaviors—Quantitative Analysis with Smile-detecting Interface

Authors: Atsushi Funahashi, Anna Gruebler, Takeshi Aoki, Hideki Kadone, and Kenji Suzuki

University of Tsukuba

The Japan Science and Technology Agency

 

Abstract:

We quantitatively measured the smiles of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD-C) using a wearable interface device during animal-assisted activities (AAA) for 7 months, and compared the results with a control of the same age. The participant was a 10-year-old boy with ASD, and a normal healthy boy of the same age was the control. They voluntarily participated in this study. Neither child had difficulty putting on the wearable device. They kept putting on the device comfortably through the

entire experiment (duration of a session was about 30–40 min). This study was approved by the Ethical Committee based on the rules established by the Institute

for Developmental Research, Aichi Human Service Center. The behavior of the participants during AAA was videorecorded and coded by the medical examiner (ME). In both groups, the smiles recognized by the ME corresponded with the computer-detected smiles. In both groups, positive social behaviors increased when the smiles increased. Also, negative social behaviors decreased when the smiles increased in the (ASD-C). It is suggested that by leading the (ASD-C) into a social environment that may cause smiling, the child’s social positive behaviors may be facilitated and his social negative behaviors may be decreased. 

 

Author: Simon Kelly

University of Bradford

 

Abstract:

This article draws on insights taken from Lacanian psychoanalysis to rethink and resituate notions of the self and subjectivity within the theory and practice of experiential leadership development. Adopting an autoethnographic approach, it describes the author’s own experience as a participant in a program of equine-assisted learning or “horse whispering” and considers the consequences of human–animal interactions as a tool for self-development and improvement. Through an analysis of this human–animal interaction, the article presents and applies three Lacanian concepts of subjectivity, desire , and fantasy  and considers their form and function in determining the often fractured relationship between self and other that characterizes leader–follower relations.

 

Authors: Jeanette Rossetti and Camille King

Northern Illinois University School of Nursing and Health Studies

 

Abstract:

The use of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) as an adjunct treatment approach in psychiatric settings has received much attention in the literature. This article explores the use of AAT with psychiatric patients. The authors performed a literature review and found that AAT can have a significant effect on the improvement of psychiatric patients’ socialization and provides a variety of psychological benefits. Nurses can benefit from learning about the potential benefits of AAT for psychiatric patients.

 

Author: Lori Friesen

University of Alberta

 

Abstract:

This article explores how current research into school-based mentorship programs might inform the adult's role as mentor in animal-assisted literacy programs and thereby offer children a unique and valuable form of support for learning. An examination of the goals and best practices of school-based mentorship programs alongside animal-assisted literacy mentorship programs opens space for an in-depth exploration into possibilities for how an animal might enhance the mentorship experience for children​

 

Authors: Darlene Chalmers and Colleen Anne Dell

University of Regina

University of Saskatchewan

 

Abstract:

The use of animal-assisted interventions in therapeutic programs is a growing phenomenon. Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) involve a variety of species (dogs, cats, horses, domesticated birds, etc.) in primary health care. Despite their increasing application in a wide range of therapeutic services, the empirical evidence base of AAIs is limited. The authors of this paper propose that the public health framework of One Health can be adapted to advance AAI research. One Health’s perspective on the environment is primarily ecological. The environmental impact on the human–animal interactions within AAIs, however, incorporates social, cultural, political, and economic factors. The environment has received minimal attention in AAI research. The authors discuss how this framework has been used in their prior AAI research and work with Indigenous people. Applying this framework to AAIs may guide future AAI research.

 

Authors: Erin Baumgartner & Jeong-il Cho

 

Abstract:

Animal-human interactions have been found to have positive influences on children across the world. In particular, research supports the benefits of animal-assisted activities in addressing students' social and behavioral problems within the classroom environment. The general information about animal-assisted activities provided in this article can help teachers identify key steps in effectively using such activities to teach socially important behaviors to children with learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, and autism. The author explains that the effectiveness of animals in classrooms is dependent on strong administrative, parental, and collegial support; clear and measurable goals; well-developed instructional plans; an appropriate animal choice; well-developed health and safety procedures; and systematic plans for monitoring progress in student performance.

 

Authors: Janelle Nimer & Brad Lundahl

University of Utah

 

Abstract:

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been practiced for many years and there is now increasing interest in demonstrating its efficacy through research. To date, no known quantitative review of AAT studies has been published; our study sought to fill this gap. We conducted a comprehensive search of articles reporting on AAT in which we reviewed 250 studies, 49 of which met our inclusion criteria and were submitted to meta-analytic procedures. Overall, AAT was associated with moderate effect sizes in improving outcomes in four areas: Autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. Contrary to expectations, characteristics of participants and studies did not produce differential outcomes. AAT shows promise as an additive to established interventions and future research should investigate the conditions under which AAT can be most helpful.

 

Authors: Kathie M. Cole, Anna Gawlinski, Neil Steers, and Jenny Kotlerman

UCLA Medical Center

 

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Animal-assisted therapy improves physiological and psychosocial variables in healthy and hypertensive patients. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether a 12-minute hospital visit with a therapy dog improves hemodynamic measures, lowers neurohormone levels, and decreases state anxiety in patients with advanced heart failure. METHODS: A 3-group randomized repeated-measures experimental design was used in 76 adults. Longitudinal analysis was used to model differences among the 3 groups at 3 times. One group received a 12-minute visit from a volunteer with a therapy dog; another group, a 12-minute visit from a volunteer; and the control group, usual care. Data were collected at baseline, at 8 minutes, and at 16 minutes. RESULTS: Compared with controls, the volunteer-dog group had significantly greater decreases in systolic pulmonary artery pressure during (-4.32 mm Hg, P = .03) and after (-5.78 mm Hg, P = .001) and in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure during (-2.74 mm Hg, P = .01) and after (-4.31 mm Hg, P = .001) the intervention. Compared with the volunteer-only group, the volunteer-dog group had significantly greater decreases in epinephrine levels during (-15.86 pg/mL, P = .04) and after (-17.54 pg/mL, P = .04) and in norepinephrine levels during (-232.36 pg/mL, P = .02) and after (-240.14 pg/mL, P = .02) the intervention. After the intervention, the volunteer-dog group had the greatest decrease from baseline in state anxiety sum score compared with the volunteer-only (-6.65 units, P =.002) and the control groups (-9.13 units, P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Animal-assisted therapy improves cardiopulmonary pressures, neurohormone levels, and anxiety in patients hospitalized with heart failure.

 

Authors: Colleen Anne Dell, Darlene Chalmers, Nora Bresette, Sue Swain, Deb Rankin, and Carol Hopkins

 

Abstract:

The Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre (NNHC) in Muncey, ON provides residential treatment to First Nations and Inuit youth who abuse solvents. As a complement to its culture-based programming, in 2008 the centre began offering weekly equine-assisted learning (EAL) curriculum to its clients in partnership with the Keystone Equine Centre and the Lambton Equine Assisted Learning Centre. This study explores the potential benefit of the EAL program on youths’ healing. We conducted 15 interviews with two intakes of male and female EAL program participants and 6 NNHC and EAL staff, reviewed EAL facilitator and NNHC staff reflections and participants’ EAL journals, and observed the EAL program. It was concluded that youths’ healing was aided through the availability of a culturally-relevant space; from within an Aboriginal worldview this understanding of space is central to individual and communal well-being. This was conveyed in three key themes that emerged from the data: spiritual exchange, complementary communication, and authentic occurrence. This understanding provides insight into the dynamics of healing for Aboriginal youth who abuse solvents, and may be applicable to other programming and populations.

 

Authors: Carien Lubbe and Suné Scholtz

University of Pretoria

 

Abstract:

The purpose of this article is to explore the use, value, and applicability of animal-assisted therapy in psychology. The case study method was applied to a therapeutic case, using the interpretivist paradigm. Data were analyzed by means of document analysis. The findings are discussed according to five themes derived from the study, namely, “facilitating relationship building,” “enabling communication by working indirectly,” “experiencing physical affection through the therapy dog,” “socialization skills,” and “enhanced self-esteem.” We report that the deliberate inclusion of an animal in therapy facilitates relationship building and therefore aids the therapeutic alliance, as well as enhances an individual’s socialization skills and self-esteem.

 

Authors: Bente Berget, Sverre Grepperud, Olaf G. Aasland, and Bjame O. Braastad

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

University of Oslo

 

Abstract:

There appears to be a growing interest among farmers and researchers in animaJ-assisted interventions (AAl). However, less is known about the attitudes toward the use of such interventions among therapists. In this study, Norwegian general practitioners, psychiatrists, and psychologists were asked about their knowledge of, and experience with, AAI and their motivation for learning more about AAi. About two-thirds of the respondents had some or significant knowledge of AAl and were motivated to adapt AAI to their own practice. Almost 9 out of 10 thought that AAl should be used more in psychiatric treatment; however, GPs were not as positive as the psychiatrists/ psychologists. More than 2 out of 3 respondents wanted to learn more about AAI, the men being more positive than the women. There were no professional differences on this question, while number of years with clinical work was negatively related, and eariier experiences with AAI positively related, to this motivation to learn more about AAl. Belief in treatment effects was a positive predictor.

 

Authors: Marieanna C. le Roux, Leslie Swartz, and Estelle Swart

Stellenbosch University

 

Abstract:

Background Animal-assisted therapy has been widely used with students. This study is the first known investigation into the impact of an animal-assisted reading program on reading skills, employing an experimental pre-test/post-test control group design and controlling for the effects of extra attention to student’s reading. Objective The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of an animal-assisted reading program on the reading rate, accuracy and comprehension of grade 3 students. Method Students identified by the ESSI Reading Test as poor readers (N = 102) were randomly assigned to three experimental groups and one control group. Twenty-seven students read to a dog in the presence of a Pets as Therapy volunteer, 24 students read directly to an adult, while 26 students read to a teddy bear in the presence of an adult. Students in the control group (n = 25) were not part of the program and continued with their normal school activities. Data collection took place before the start of the program (Time 1), directly after completion of the 10-week reading program (Time 2), and again 8 weeks after the completion of the program (Time 3). Results Mixed method analysis of variance revealed significant interaction between group and time on the Neale reading comprehension scores with the ‘‘dog group’’ scoring higher than the three other groups. Conclusion The animal-assisted reading program had an impact on some of the reading skills of the students who read to a dog. The program is flexible and can be applied in a variety of settings.

 

Authors: Sandra Holt, Rebecca A. Johnson, Hayley D. Yaglom & Casey Brenner

University of Missouri

Arizona Department of Health Services

 

Abstract:

Animal assisted activity (AAA) programs offer widespread physiological, social, and emotional benefits to recipient populations, particularly older adults. While AAA is common in nursing homes, it is less common in retirement residences where individuals are often suffering from the stress of relocating and transitioning to a more dependent lifestyle. PAWSitive Visits (PV) is a weekly AAA visitation program conducted in a group-setting at a Midwestern retirement residence that brings an array of domestic and exotic animal species for the residents to interact with. PV strives to provide educational opportunities for the residents, facilitating their social engagement, eliciting memories of previously owned pets, and offering intergenerational activities. It also provides meaningful learning experiences for students (e.g., nursing and veterinary medical students) who affiliate with the program. The conceptual model for PV is the threefold notion of attachment, reciprocity, and unconditional acceptance that animals offer older adults. PV is a unique and successful program, coordinated in a manner that ensures the health and safety of both animal and human counterparts, while providing residents with experiences that enhance their well-being.

 

Author: Tracy S. Geist

Widener University

 

Abstract:

Animal-assisted Therapy (A-AT) is becoming a popular therapeutic treatment for both children and adults. The author has used A-AT in a school setting with students with emotional disturbances. A review of the literature regarding A-AT reveals a lack of a unified theoretical framework. This paper proposes a conceptual framework that incorporates a physiological, psychological, and cognitive model to depict the functional deficits that challenge students with emotional disturbances. Attachment Theory is then used to describe why A-AT may be effective in improving the socio-emotional and behavioral functioning of students with emotional disturbances.

 

Author: Marguerite E. O’Haire

University of Queensland

 

Abstract:

The inclusion of animals in therapeutic activities, known as animal-assisted intervention (AAI), has been suggested as a treatment practice for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This paper presents a systematic review of the empirical research on AAI for ASD. Fourteen studies published in peer-reviewed journals qualified for inclusion. The presentation of AAI was highly variable across the studies. Reported outcomes included improvements for multiple areas of functioning known to be impaired in ASD, namely increased social interaction and communication as well as decreased problem behaviors, autistic severity, and stress. Yet despite unanimously positive outcomes, most studies were limited by many methodological weaknesses. This review demonstrates that there is preliminary ‘‘proof of concept’’ of AAI for ASD and highlights the need for further, more rigorous research.


Authors: Clayton G. Notgrass and J. Douglas Pettinelli

Saint Louis University

 

Abstract:

This article describes the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association’s (EAGALA) experiential model called Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). EAGALA’s model is based on the Association for Experiential Education’s (AEE) tenets and is focused on the learner’s experience with horses. Drawing on the historical use of equines in the healing arts, we argue that EAP is distinct from other modalities that incorporate horses because it does not promote horseback riding or horsemanship skills. We outline the EAP model, drawing connections to the AEE’s principles of practice. Current research does not consistently include a common language when describing the program being investigated (sometimes not even referring to EAP or EAGALA). Therefore, this outline is needed to distinguish EAP from other models. Recommendations for future areas of inquiry include determining the degree to which EAP is effective and considering the specific variables central to its efficacy—including the characteristics of horses.​

 

Author: Beth L. Macauley

University of Alabama

 

Abstract:

This study explored the effects and effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for persons with aphasia. Three men with aphasia from left-hemisphere strokes participated in this study. The men received one semester of traditional therapy followed by one semester of AAT. While both therapies were effective, in that each participant met his goals, no significant differences existed between test results following traditional speech-language therapy versus AAT. Results of a client-satisfaction questionnaire, however, indicated that each of the participants was more motivated, enjoyed the therapy sessions more, and felt that the atmosphere of the sessions was lighter and less stressed during AAT compared with traditional therapy.

 
Author: Lori Friesen
 
Abstract:

Animal-Assisted programs with children are becoming increasingly popular in school and therapeutic settings. This article provides an overview of the benefits accrued by children as well as the concerns with programs which involve animals, and therapy dogs in particular, in these environments. Research over the past 30 years indicates that therapy dogs may offer physiological, emotional, social, and physical support for children. The distinguishing features of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) are characterized

by the supplemental inclusion of a trained therapy dog in reaching an intervention goal in therapeutic environments, and as a supplement to an educational objective in school contexts. The general assumptions underlying AAT with children are that although therapy dogs are interactive, children seem to perceive them as non-judgemental

participants who are outside of the complications and expectations of human relationships. This unique interaction may offer children a valuable form of social and emotional support in educational and therapeutic settings.

 

Authors: Ingeborg Pedersen, Camilla Ihlebæk, & Marit Kirkevold

Norwegian University

 

Abstract:

The main aim of this study was to obtain participants' own experience of a farm animal-assisted intervention, and what they perceived as important elements in relation to their mental health. Method: A qualitative study, inspired by a phenomenological-hermeneutical perspective was conducted. Eight persons with clinical depression who had completed a 12-week farm animal-assisted intervention at a dairy farm participated in thematic interviews between May and June 2009. Results: The intervention was regarded as a positive experience for the participants. The analyses revealed that central elements in the intervention were the possibility to experience an ordinary work life, but also the importance of a distraction to their illness. Furthermore, the flexibility of the intervention made it possible to adjust the intervention to the participants' shifting reality and was thereby a key element in farm animal-assisted intervention. The flexibility and adapted work tasks were important elements that the participants associated with their experience of coping. A model showing the interaction between the different elements reported as important by the participants was constructed. Conclusions: This study shows that a farm animal-assisted intervention could be a supplement in mental health rehabilitation. All the elements in our model could possibly influence positively on mental health.

 

Authors: Erwin Breitenbach, Eva Stumpft, Lorenzo v. Fersen, and Harald Ebert

Humboldt-University

University Würzburg

 

Abstract:

The goal of this study was to test if dolphin-assisted therapy could be an effective therapeutic intervention for children with significant social and communication disabilities. Furthermore, it was crucial to determine the relative importance of the dolphin and the parent consultation factors implicit in the therapy. The method employed was a before-and-after comparison of three control groups and one experimental group. In the experimental group, all three aspects of the therapeutic intervention-interaction with dolphins, parent counseling and a curative, relaxed environment-were included. Control group 1 (outpatient therapy group) was limited to just interaction with dolphins. In control group 2 (farm animal group), the parents were counseled after the children interacted with farm animals (which replaced dolphins). Control group 3 received no treatment. The post-treatment parent questionnaire results revealed therapeutic success in the areas of both productive and receptive language, processing of non-verbal cues, social skills, and self-confidence. Observations of parent-child interaction indicated that after treatment in the experimental group, interactions of children could be interpreted more accurately, on a long-term basis. The discovered therapeutic effects occurred regardless of whether the children were in the water during therapy or not.

 

Authors: Beth P. Velde, Joseph Cipriani, and Grace Fisher

East Carolina University

Misericordia University

 

Abstract:

Animal-assisted therapy is offered in a wide variety of settings. The literature contains few studies investigating animal-assisted therapy from an occupational therapy perspective. More information is needed to describe the use of animals as a therapeutic modality in occupational therapy. Three qualitative case studies were analysed to describe the perceptions of clients and therapists regarding animal-assisted therapy. This analysis was synthesised with an extensive literature review to produce a perspective of animal-assisted therapy for occupational therapy. Animal-assisted therapy could be a beneficial modality for occupational therapy. The Lifestyle Performance Model provides a useful framework for analysis and interpretation of the positive outcomes of animal-assisted therapy in an occupational therapy context.

 

Authors: Karen E. Frederick, Julie Ivey Hatz, and Beth Lanning

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

 

Abstract:

Equine-assisted learning (EAL) is an experiential modality which utilizes horses to provide a unique learning experience for personal growth. Research by Damon et al. (Appl Dev Sci 7:119–128, 2003) suggests a positive relationship between hope and positive developmental trajectories. Hagen et al. (Am J Orthopsychiatr 75:211–219, 2005) showed hope to be a protective factor associated with adaptive functioning in at-risk youth. Ashby et al. (J Couns Dev 89:131–139, 2011) found a significant inverse relationship between hope and depression: as hope increases, depression decreases. The current study investigates the impact of a non-riding EAL curriculum entitled L.A.S.S.O. (Leading Adolescents to Successful School Outcomes) on levels of hope and depression in at-risk youth. The study uses an experimental design with longitudinal, repeated measures. Participants were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Participants in the treatment received 5 weeks of EAL, while participants in the control group received treatment as usual. Repeated measures ANOVA of participants’ levels of hope and depression showed statistically significant improvements in the treatment group as compared with the control group. Even a brief (5-week) intervention of EAL had a positive impact on the lives and attitudes of at-risk adolescents, with increased levels of hope and decreased levels of depression.

 

Author: Kathryn Heimlich

University of Illinois

 

Abstract:

Presents a study to quantitatively measure, with a multiple baseline design, the effectiveness of a program which utilizes animals as adjuncts to therapy. Method; Results; Discussion of the reasons why generalizations could not be made regarding the efficacy of animal-assisted therapy on the behavior of children with severe cognitive impairments.

 

Authors: B. Berget, Ø. Ekeberg, & B. O. Braastad

Norwegian University

 

Abstract:

Green care is a concept that involves the use of farm animals, plants, gardens or the landscape in cooperation with health institutions for different target groups of clients. The present study aimed at examining psychiatric therapists’ (n = 60) and farmers’ (n = 15) knowledge, experience and attitudes to Green care and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with farm animals for people with psychiatric disorders. Most respondents had some or large knowledge about Green care, but experience with Green care was generally low in both groups. Both farmers and therapists believed that AAT with farm animals could contribute positively to therapy to a large or very large extent, with farmers being significantly more positive. Most of the therapists thought that AAT with farm animals contributes to increased skills in interactions with other humans, with female therapists being more positive than males. Two-thirds of the therapists believed that AAT with farm animals to a large extent could contribute better to mental health than other types of occupational therapy. There were no differences in attitudes to AAT between psychiatrists/psychologists and psychiatric nurses. This study confirms the marked potential of offering AAT services with farm animals for psychiatric patients by documenting positive attitudes to it among psychiatric therapists.

© 2015 Copyright Carolyn Mamchur