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Open AccessArticle

Differences between Female and Male Inmates in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in Austria: Do We Need Treatment Programs Specific to the Needs of Females in AAT?

1
Psychological Outpatient Clinic, Sigmund Freud University Vienna, 1020 Vienna, Austria
2
Faculty of Psychology, Sigmund Freud University Vienna, 1020 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020244
Received: 18 November 2019 / Revised: 27 January 2020 / Accepted: 31 January 2020 / Published: 4 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapies and Interventions 2019)
So far, many studies in the field of animal assisted therapies (AAT) show promising results in several areas for male and female participants. A newer study has found auspicious results for the target group of female inmates in 2013, which prompted our literature research and an additional gender and sex related evaluation of especially selected intervention data collected over a time period of ten years in specialized institutions with criminal offenders suffering from substance dependence syndrome. We found in our analysis that although male and female participants benefit both from the dog assisted group therapy (MTI), female drug dependent criminal offenders benefit less, especially regarding skills connected with emotions. Although practice and research in the area of AAT is booming and most studies promise positive results for a large variety of people, research has to focus on who benefits from which kind of intervention, what intensities and numbers of sessions are needed, and what prerequisites need to be met to allow benefits for all beings involved.
With the growth of female inmates worldwide, research regarding specific treatment of these has become more important. Although new programs have been started, the lack of scientific results is startling. The goal of the current study was to identify differences between participants from the men’s and women’s section in a specialized prison for criminal offenders suffering from substance dependence syndrome regarding the effects of dog-assisted group therapy. Therefore, 81 incarcerated participants (50 male, 31 female) took part in a dog-assisted group therapy targeting socio-emotional competencies. Self-report questionnaires to measure self-concept (SDQ-III), emotional status (EMI-B) and emotional competencies (SEE) were employed. Statistical analysis included General Linear Model (GLM) procedures and η2 as concurrent effect size measure. Results demonstrate that participants from the women’s ward tend to benefit significantly less from the dog-assisted group therapy in most measured areas than men, especially in terms of their emotional status (e.g., aggressiveness) and emotional competencies (e.g., emotion regulation). Treatment programs specific to the needs of women might be a future challenge for practitioners and researchers in AAT. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender-differences; prison; animal-assisted therapy; gender-sensitive treatment; criminal offenders; substance dependency syndrome gender-differences; prison; animal-assisted therapy; gender-sensitive treatment; criminal offenders; substance dependency syndrome
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Stetina, B.U.; Krouzecky, C.; Emmett, L.; Klaps, A.; Ruck, N.; Kovacovsky, Z.; Bunina, A.; Aden, J. Differences between Female and Male Inmates in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in Austria: Do We Need Treatment Programs Specific to the Needs of Females in AAT? Animals 2020, 10, 244.

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