Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Andrea Nesmith, Ph.D., LISW


Social Work


Animal-assisted interactions (AAI) have shown increasing promise in reaching at-risk youth. Overview: This systematic review explores the biopsychosocial-spiritual impacts of AAI for at-risk youth through analyzing the existing body of empirical research in the field. Qualitative analysis of findings indicated three main themes identified as (1) “the human animal connection,” exploring the unique impacts of equine and canine partnership in treatment, (2) “a new sense of self,” describing internal benefits of AAI, and (3) “social impacts” or increased prosocial behavior in participants. Quality assessment ratings indicated need for additional research in the field; however, results indicate promising outcomes for at-risk clients.

Included in

Social Work Commons