How Are Animals used in Psychotherapy Keeping animals as pets is very popular and the human-animal bond is a well- documented phenomenon that has been present since humans began the practice of domesticating animals (Turner, 2007). In general, developing positive relationships with animals is said to contribute to one’s well-being. Having animals as companions, guards for safety or protection, a bridge to colonization, or Seeing Eye dogs is accepted as benefiting all parties Involved In the relationship (Mason & Hogan, 1999).
However, the question of whether animals contribute to a person’s mental well-being is not well documented or sufficiently researched. Much of the literature supporting the increase in animal-assisted therapy (AT) is based on case studies, surveys, and theoretical literature (Freeing & Gardener, 2005). Animal assisted therapy is a therapeutic technique developed to assist Individuals In growing, developing, and overcoming obstacles which hinder progress during individual, couples, family, and/ or group psychotherapy (Mason & Hogan, 1999).
The animal is viewed as a facilitator urine the Intervention process and is seen as an aid in building trust between the client and therapist, creating a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for the client. Tats importance in the field of social work and the treatment of mental health issues is immense. So many individuals continually suffer as they have never had any reprieve from their symptoms regardless of the treatment used. AT presents yet another treatment option and hope for those Individuals whose symptoms are resistant to treatment.
Preliminary research has found that an average of five sessions with AT produced improvements in areas of conduct, mood, an synoptic Lassoers rater years AT conventional metazoans AT tannery nave Tattle (Freeing & Gardener, 2005). AT has the capacity to deliver positive outcomes for mental health clients and is tailored to each client’s needs which guarantees some level of success. Since AT is a new, innovative technique, many of the sessions are submitted to the insurance companies coded as physical or occupational therapy (Bend, 2005).
Animal assisted therapy (AT) should be performed by a trained practitioner (Stanley-Herrmann & Miller, 2002). Therapy goals include improving physical trench, memory, clarity of speech, balance, self-esteem, and alleviate depressed mood. Therapists use their creativity, knowledge, and experience in designing activities to assist a client in reaching their goals. Overall, it has been found that animals have a De-arousing effect on humans (Mason & Hogan, 1999).
Animals provide individuals with stress reducing and stress buffering social support which, in turn, has a positive effect on the ability to cope with the normal stresses of life; therefore, the effect animals have on humans may not only be physical in nature, but psychological as well by helping to maintain psychological equilibrium (Parsifal, 2003; Mason & Hogan, 1999). Animal assisted therapy has been used in a variety of mental health, educational, hospital, residential treatment facilities, prisons, and private practice settings.
This technique has been used with clinical populations including mental health inpatients and outpatients, developmentally disabled, learning disabled, traumatized, physically challenged, and alcohol and drug addicted individuals. Today, it seems as though the AT field is only limited by the imagination, availability of funding, and the limited amount of research. Literature Review History dates back to 1699 when John Locke advocated giving “children dogs, squirrels, birds, or any such thing to look after as a way of encouraging them to develop tender feelings and a sense of responsibility for others” (Parsifal, p. 7, 2003). Pets provide a source of physical security, a means for teaching children responsibility and respect for life, and serve as a catalyst for establishing human contact and interaction. Recorded use of pets as therapeutic agents continued almost one hundred years later in 1792 when farm animals were present at a Quaker treat in England to benefit the mental health of patients (Richter, 1998). Patients here showed improvement in their behaviors as a result of caring for the animals. In 1867, at Bethel Treatment Facility in Germany, animals were more extensively integrated into therapeutic treatment.
However, it was not until almost a century later that animal assisted therapy received a great deal of attention. Following World War II, Dry. Boris Leveling, a professor and psychotherapist, made an accidental discovery (Richter, 1998; Parsifal, 2003; Mason & Hogan, 1999). Leveling left his dog lone with an uncommunicative, difficult child for a few minutes; upon his return, Leveling found the child deep in conversation with the dog and concluded that animals could play a central role in therapy. This discovery made Leveling the first psychotherapist to report on the value of pets in psychotherapy sessions (Mason & Hogan, 1999).
Through this finding, Leveling described four ways to use pets: “as a psychotherapeutic adjunct, as the sole therapist, as a catalytic change agent, and a means of contact with nature (Mason & Hogan, 1999, p. 1236). These uses are all Interrelated Ana comfort Trot contact welt ten animal Is letter present or easily available. When working specifically with children, Pigged found that all children go through a stage of development when it is natural for them to project human traits to animals (Richter, 1998). Fairy tales and mythology portray animals as having an important role in human interactions.
Children have been found to project their feelings about themselves onto the animal, which gives loves, does not talk back or argue, and provides a continuous nonjudgmental relationship. In return, the child receives value from a living being that offers love and reassurance without criticism. Social workers can also utilize animals to teach the child affection, empathy, nurture, responsibility, and self-acceptance. In the United States, the use of animals for therapeutic gain began in the sass in New York at Palling Air Force Convalescent Hospital (Mason & Hogan, 1999).
Animals were used with patients to promote well-being by allowing the patients to watch, care for, and touch the animals (Parsifal, 2003). Two organizations were then founded in the United States during the mid-twentieth century to study the human-animal bond?The Lethal Foundation in California and the Delta Society in Washington. The Delta Society defined AT as “the use of trained animals in facilitating patients’ progress towards therapeutic goals” (Parsifal, 2003, p. 48). In 1965, He-man wrote about the relationship a man has with his pet.
He-man found that a pet or animal may serve as a major factor in psychological well-being by using displacement, projection, and identification. He-man also reported that an animal may be used as a therapeutic aid in encouraging child clients to disclose information or with clients with psychotic symptoms to decrease anxiety. Beck (1986) conducted a study in which caged finches ere present during group therapy sessions for a group of 8 patients. A second group of 9 patients who continued their normal therapeutic programs and acted as the control group.
Beck hypothesized that the animal would make the environment less threatening so psychiatric inpatients who met in a room containing birds for group therapy and activity would attend the sessions more frequently, participate in more sessions, and benefit from the therapy more than the group who met without the birds present. All patients met diagnostic criteria for “paranoid schizophrenia, residual schizophrenia, specification disorder, or affective disorder” (p. 4). Prior to the end of the study, four of the eight patients in the bird group were appropriate for discharge.
Results show that the patients in the bird group had a greater rate of attendance and more frequent participation in groups. Perhaps benefits of animal contact provided the additional treatment necessary to help these patients become eligible for discharge. Animals also act as an ice breaker between the therapist and the client. In 1982, projective psychological tests found people described scenes which included animals as less threatening than scenes without animals, and they ad a more positive view of the character of people associated with animals that those without (Mason & Hogan, 1999).
These findings led to the belief that the presence of an animal help the clients feel more comfortable and at ease resulting in fuller disclosure. Pet-assisted therapy has been used to treat and rehabilitate adult patients diagnosed with schizophrenia with the purpose of enhancing communication skills and adaptive functioning and decreasing Oneida (Kvass, Z. , Kiss, R. , Rosa, S. , & Rosa, L. , 2004; Kvass, Z. , lazuli,J. , Kiss, R. , & Simon, L. , 2006; Antenna- Barrel, I-Lehman, Berger, Modal, & Silver (2 Inpatient Tactless, cogs were present for weekly therapy sessions over a six month time period.
At the end of the six month time period, the participants showed improved emotional reactivity, hedonistic tone, compliance to treatment, motivation, living skills, nonverbal communication skills, use of leisure time, and a trend towards improved motivation. These studies also revealed that severely impaired patients can form a strong bond with a dog which is instrumental in progressing towards well-being as many individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia lack strong, meaningful relationships.
These research findings should be used cautiously due to the small sample size and indicate the need for further research to be conducted. In contrast to the findings presented above, a quantitative study done by Johnson, Meadows, Hauberk, and Severed (2008) found no statistical significance was found between dog visits and increased mood when used with cancer patients. Mood disturbances, including fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and depression, are four times more common among cancer patients than the general population.
In efforts to provide some relief from mood disturbances, animal-assisted therapy was introduced. It was found that after 15 minute sessions three times per week, there were increases in anger/hostility, depression/De]section, and confusion; however, these increases were not significant. When interviewed following the therapy with the animals, the participants viewed their participation positively and said they would recommend it to another patient. This study suggests that further research needs to be conducted on mood states and animal assisted therapy but also that use of a mixed methods study may be beneficial.
McCullough (1985) found that animals helped depressed outpatients by providing a ensue of security, friendship, hope, and improved feelings of well-being by decreasing loneliness. In 1983, Carson and Carson found patients in a psychiatric unit had increased overvaluations and emotional expression towards others when they participated in animal assisted therapy. Richter (1994) found dogs to be helpful in therapy with children who had been sexually abused. Fools, Minder, Cocky, and Suntans (1994) found pets to be useful in a therapy setting to assist clients in resolving inner conflicts, negative feelings, and improving self-esteem.
Therapists also benefit from AT. In a study done by Mason and Hogan (1999), many psychotherapists indicated that the technique of AT increases their Job satisfaction. Some therapists also indicated that the incorporation of animals contributed to an increase in business and a decrease in cancellations and no shows. The therapists interviewed felt as though the use of AT increased their effectiveness as a therapist. Most therapists said having a pet in the office made it feel more “homey’ and that they were more approachable directly related to the finding that scenes with animals are less threatening than scenes without animals.
Within animal assisted therapy, there are several specializations one of which is equine-assisted psychotherapy (EPA). EPA specializes in utilizing horses as a therapeutic tool. The goal of EPA is to increase personal confidence, communication effectiveness, build trust, and learn how to set boundaries and limits (Schultz, Rimier- Barlow, & Robbins, 2007). Since EPA is relatively new, theoretical foundations of why and how it works are still in the early stages of formulation. YAP Involves ten use AT Norse In ten treatment AT campanological Issues.
Horses are used mainly because they are unique in their responses to humans; since they are prey animals, not predators, their survival demands that they be extremely sensitive o the environment (Roberts, Bearberry, & Williams, 2004). Horses are able to read people in terms of their feelings even when they are trying to hide those feelings from others or themselves. Horses respond to the internal state of the person, no matter how much the person tries to disguise it. Overall, horses are used for therapy as they ignore the outward form of the person and respond to the person’s inner feelings which then acts as a catalyst for change.
Typically, the EPA therapist integrates equine activities within their broader theoretical framework, mainly experiential therapy which uses direct experience as he primary avenue for change (Kiloton, Bines, Lenient, Kiloton, 2007). Through the use of experiential therapy, clients are given the opportunity to work through unfinished business, relieve psychological distress, live more fully in the present, and change destructive patters of behavior. In EPA, horses serve as a catalysts and/or metaphors allowing clinical issues to surface. EPA offers the opportunity for the use of metaphors in a therapeutic way (Kiloton et al. 2007). How the client interprets a horse’s movements, behaviors, and reactions determines the meaning of the adaptor providing a portal for the resolution of unfinished business by bringing forth and addressing transference reactions in the here-and-now. Horses offer a variety of opportunities for projection and transference by giving accurate, unbiased feedback, and mirroring both physical and emotional states of the participant. This provides an avenue for clients to raise self-awareness and practice congruence between their feelings and behaviors.
Horses elicit a range of emotions and behaviors in humans which can be used as a catalyst for personal awareness and growth. A horse who walks away, ignores, is easily distracted, wants to eat at the Ron time, bites, urinates, and neighs are common behaviors which elicit human response. Clients also relate too horse’s impulse to escape when feeling frightened or threatened. In EPA, therapists work closely with a trained horse handler who is responsible for ensuring safety as well as providing proper instruction for interacting with horses (Kiloton et al. 2007). Clients participate in activities such as choosing a horse, grooming the horse, mounted work, walking/trotting, and equine games which are then combined with role-playing, role reversal, mirroring, and Gestalt-techniques. A major goal of this treatment approach is conquering unfinished business which can be defined as “unexpressed feelings that are linked to memories carried into present life in ways that interfere with one’s ability to function effectively’ (Kiloton et al. 2007, p. 259). EPA and experiential techniques resolve unfinished business through experiencing significant life events and relationships, allowing them to work through unresolved conflicts and emotions to live more fully in the present. Kiloton, Bines, Lenient, & Kiloton (2007) conducted a study using sixty-six individuals who employed twenty eight hours of EPA over a four and a half day residential program. EPA was done in a group format with groups averaging eight participants.
The researchers found that participants “showed significant and stable reductions in overall psychological distress and enhancements in psychological well being from pre-test to post-test’ (p. 2 Participants reported Tower symptoms Ana decrease In severity of psychological distress; they reported being more focused on the present, enhanced ability to live in the present, less burdened by guilt and resentments, more independent, and more self-supportive. Although these results are very promising, Kiloton et al. 2007), notes the lack of a control group and the use of a non-random sample causing the results to be difficult to interpret and generalize. In a pilot study conducted by Schultz, Rimier-Barlow, and Robbins (2007), the efficacy of EPA was tested among a cross-sectional group of children referred to a psychotherapist for various childhood behavioral and mental health issues over an eighteen month period. A total of sixty three children received an average of nineteen EPA sessions. The Children’s Global Assessment of Functioning (GAFF) scale score was determined re- and post-EPA. Results showed all children had improvements in GAFF scores.
A statistically significant correlation was found between the percentage of improvement in the GAFF scores and the number of sessions received. This study also found that children who had a history of physical abuse and/or neglect had statistically significant greater percentage improvement in GAFF scores after treatment than those children who did not have a history of abuse or neglect. Overall, this study demonstrated that children respond quickly to EPA; however, long-term effects cannot be determined at this time. Although there seems to be many success stories in the use of AT, one may be inclined to ask: “Is it safe? Zionism, the transmission of disease between animals and humans, infection control, and safety are often the biggest barriers to AT (Stanley-Herrmann & Miller, 2002). Through 2002, there have been no documented cases of disease transmission in animal-assisted programs. To prevent the transmission of any germs to the patient, the handler must thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water between patients. Animals must be clean (bathed within twenty four hours), currently vaccinated, and free of disease and raises (Stanley-Herrmann & Miller, 2002).
All animals are always kept on a leash and the handler must remain in control of the animal at all times. The purpose of this exploratory descriptive study is to gather information on the use of animals in psychotherapy and determine how animals are used in psychotherapy. Although, there has been much written regarding the importance of the animal-human bond and the health benefits of pet ownership and pet visitation, few studies have addressed the benefits and limitations of including animals in psychotherapy sessions.