Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel

Abstract

This research project is a qualitative study that explores the effect of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) on children with disabilities from the perspective of Animal-Assisted Therapists. One of the goals of this research project was to provide support for this holistic inclusion of AAT in therapeutic practice with children. Six in-depth interviews were conducted with licensed and practicing Animal-Assisted Therapists, who are working with the specified population, children with mental health and neurobiological disabilities. Data analysis occurred within a two-month period. The categories that emerged were: 1) client population, 2) clinician experience, 3) initial session, 4) family involvement, 5) social and physical improvements, 6) connection/rapport building, 7) change as reported by clients and, 8) impact of AAT animal death on clients. The overarching research question asks: What are the effects of AAT on children with disabilities? After reviewing the literature, this research project has produced findings with similar results. This research had both strengths and limitations. The implications of this research project provide current and future social workers with information that supports the inclusion of AAT in clinical work with children with disabilities.

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