Special Issue "Animal Assisted Therapy"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Karen Thodberg

Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Blicher Allé 20, Postboks 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
E-Mail
Phone: +45-871-56000
Co-Guest Editor
Dr. Bente Berget

Agder Research University of Agder 19 Gimlemoen, Kristiansand 4630, Norway
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The research field is expanding and includes researchers from many disciplines, and in the last decade larger controlled studies have been published. However, many areas remain unexplored and there is a pronounced need for more evidence based knowledge before this non-pharmacological treatment type will be fully acknowledged by the established health care systems. Much more focus should be on obtaining data on the causal pathways of the effects of animal assisted therapy, as this would make it possible to target the treatment to specific target groups, and enable the selection of optimal intervention types and animals. The welfare of therapy animals needs more attention, as they are often exposed to novel environments and meet challenges such as slippery floors and intensive contact to humans not used to handle animals. The ethics regarding the use of animals in this way should also be addressed, e.g. with regard to the age of animals brought along to therapeutic sessions.

Original papers from research areas such as ethology, animal science, veterinary medicine, psychology and psychiatry are invited to contribute to this special issue about animal assisted therapy, especially controlled interdisciplinary studies about (1) quantitative measures of human-animal interactions and acute responses to the animal during interventions, (2) the relationship between acute responses and long-term effects, 3) Care farming/Green Care, and 4) the welfare of therapy animals, including the selection of suitable individuals.

Dr. Karen Thodberg
Guest Editor
Dr. Bente Berget
Co-Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Exploring the Role of Farm Animals in Providing Care at Care Farms
Animals 2017, 7(6), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7060045
Received: 15 February 2017 / Revised: 24 May 2017 / Accepted: 31 May 2017 / Published: 2 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (233 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We explore the role of farm animals in providing care to different types of participants at care farms (e.g., youngsters with behavioural problems, people with severe mental problems and people with dementia). Care farms provide alternative and promising settings where people can interact
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We explore the role of farm animals in providing care to different types of participants at care farms (e.g., youngsters with behavioural problems, people with severe mental problems and people with dementia). Care farms provide alternative and promising settings where people can interact with animals compared to a therapeutic healthcare setting. We performed a literature review, conducted focus group meetings and carried out secondary data-analysis of qualitative studies involving care farmers and different types of participants. We found that farm animals are important to many participants and have a large number of potential benefits. They can (i) provide meaningful day occupation; (ii) generate valued relationships; (iii) help people master tasks; (iv) provide opportunities for reciprocity; (v) can distract people from them problems; (vi) provide relaxation; (vii) facilitate customized care; (viii) facilitate relationships with other people; (ix) stimulate healthy behavior; (x) contribute to a welcoming environment; (xi) make it possible to experience basic elements of life; and (xii) provide opportunities for reflection and feedback. This shows the multi-facetted importance of interacting with animals on care farms. In this study the types of activities with animals and their value to different types of participants varied. Farm animals are an important element of the care farm environment that can address the care needs of different types of participants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapy)
Open AccessArticle How Are Service Dogs for Adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Integrated with Rehabilitation in Denmark? A Case Study
Animals 2017, 7(5), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7050033
Received: 1 February 2017 / Revised: 17 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 25 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A severe mental illness like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known to have psychosocial consequences that can lead to a decreased quality of life. Research in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) has revealed that the presence of a dog can have a positive effect
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A severe mental illness like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known to have psychosocial consequences that can lead to a decreased quality of life. Research in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) has revealed that the presence of a dog can have a positive effect on health, e.g., increase quality of life and lessen depression and anxiety. However, canine companionship is not a catch-all solution. Previous research has revealed methodological limitations that prohibit any clear conclusions, as well as a sparsity of critical reflection in anecdotal reports and case studies, which means that more research is needed to contextualize the findings. There has been an increasing interest in animal-assisted intervention in Denmark in recent years. Previously, authorities could only grant service dogs to adults with physical disabilities, but now this has been extended to adults with mental illnesses. Therefore, it has become important to explore how these service dogs are incorporated into rehabilitation practices in mental health, and how rehabilitation professionals react to the use of service dogs. This paper is a case study of a person who suffers from PTSD. This study examines how the person describes the significance of having a dog during her rehabilitation process, and how this is integrated with existing rehabilitation. The case study has been developed based on a semi-structured interview. A Thematic Content analysis was used to reveal dominant patterns and categories. This study revealed a lack of communication and collaboration between public administration (social service), service dog providers, health rehabilitation services, and providers of psychological treatment. It also revealed limited access for the dog to public services, limited success in incorporating the dog into goal-directed treatment and rehabilitation procedures, a strongly felt emotional support from the dog, and a perceived stigma by having the dog wearing a vest with he words “mentally ill” printed on it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapy)

Review

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Open AccessReview Green Care: A Review of the Benefits and Potential of Animal-Assisted Care Farming Globally and in Rural America
Animals 2017, 7(4), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7040031
Received: 31 December 2016 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 13 April 2017
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Abstract
The term Green Care includes therapeutic, social or educational interventions involving farming; farm animals; gardening or general contact with nature. Although Green Care can occur in any setting in which there is interaction with plants or animals, this review focuses on therapeutic practices
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The term Green Care includes therapeutic, social or educational interventions involving farming; farm animals; gardening or general contact with nature. Although Green Care can occur in any setting in which there is interaction with plants or animals, this review focuses on therapeutic practices occurring on farms. The efficacy of care farming is discussed and the broad utilization of care farming and farm care communities in Europe is reviewed. Though evidence from care farms in the United States is included in this review, the empirical evidence which could determine its efficacy is lacking. For example, the empirical evidence supporting or refuting the efficacy of therapeutic horseback riding in adults is minimal, while there is little non-equine care farming literature with children. The health care systems in Europe are also much different than those in the United States. In order for insurance companies to cover Green Care techniques in the United States, extensive research is necessary. This paper proposes community-based ways that Green Care methods can be utilized without insurance in the United States. Though Green Care can certainly be provided in urban areas, this paper focuses on ways rural areas can utilize existing farms to benefit the mental and physical health of their communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapy)
Open AccessReview Current Perspectives on Therapy Dog Welfare in Animal-Assisted Interventions
Animals 2017, 7(2), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7020007
Received: 20 December 2016 / Accepted: 25 January 2017 / Published: 1 February 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Research into the effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) has primarily addressed human health outcomes. In contrast, only few publications deal with the therapy dog experience of AAIs. This paper provides an overview on potential welfare threats that therapy dogs may encounter and presents
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Research into the effects of animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) has primarily addressed human health outcomes. In contrast, only few publications deal with the therapy dog experience of AAIs. This paper provides an overview on potential welfare threats that therapy dogs may encounter and presents the results of a review of available studies on welfare indicators for therapy dogs during AAIs. Previous investigations used physiological and behavioral welfare indicators and dog handler surveys to identify work-related stress. Research outcomes are discussed in the light of strengths and weaknesses of the methods used. Study results suggest that frequency and duration of AAI sessions, novelty of the environment, controllability, age and familiarity of recipients modulate animal welfare indicators. However, this review reveals that currently, clear conclusions on how the well-being of dogs is influenced by the performance in AAIs are lacking due to the heterogeneity of programs, recipient and session characteristics, small dog sample sizes and methodological limitations. This paper further aimed to identify unresolved difficulties in previous research to pave the way for future investigations supporting the applicability of scientific findings in practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapy)

Other

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Open AccessCase Report Family Dog-Assisted Adapted Physical Activity: A Case Study
Animals 2017, 7(5), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7050035
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 18 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
Purpose: The aim of this case study was to examine the individual effects of an adapted physical activity, animal-assisted intervention (APA-AAI) with the family dog on motor skills, physical activity, and quality of life of a child with cerebral palsy (CP). Method:
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Purpose: The aim of this case study was to examine the individual effects of an adapted physical activity, animal-assisted intervention (APA-AAI) with the family dog on motor skills, physical activity, and quality of life of a child with cerebral palsy (CP). Method: This study used an A-B-A single-subject design. The assessment phase (phase A) occurred pre- and post-intervention. This consisted of standardized assessments of motor skills, quality of life questionnaires, physical activity (measured using the GT3X+ accelerometer) and the human-animal bond. The intervention (phase B) lasted 8 weeks and consisted of adapted physical activities performed with the family dog once a week for 60 min in a lab setting. In addition, the participant had at-home daily activities to complete with the family dog. Results: Visual analysis was used to analyze the data. Motor skill performance, physical activity, quality of life and human animal interaction gains were observed in each case. Conclusions: These preliminary results provided initial evidence that the family-dog can play a role in healthy lifestyles through APA-AAI in children with CP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapy)
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