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Creature comforts: An exploration of pet owners and their experiences of wellbeing gained through their relationships with their companion animals

By Jennifer Jane Johnson, Valda Swinton (adviser)

Category Theses
Abstract

The aim of this phenomenological research was to gain greater understanding of people’s lived experience of their relationships with companion animals. Of particular interest were the everyday aspects of the relationship. Four participants were interviewed and Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used in order to analyse the data. The findings are generally consistent with other research in the area in that they show the central role that companion animals play in the participants’ lives, and the up-lifting, life-enhancing qualities they bestow. Unexpectedly, a major theme of healing and transformation emerged as each participant had come through difficult times in their lives with a sense that their companion animal relationship had been restorative, sustaining and motivating. An additional interest was to discover if people felt inhibited in speaking about the depth of the bond; such a finding could be a useful factor for counsellors to consider when working with clients. However, with the small, purposive sample used in this study, it was not possible to explore this aspect. It might be fruitful to continue research in this area. The study confirms that, for counsellors, an appreciation of the important contribution of pets to happiness and wellbeing could add a significant dimension to understanding a client’s world. It is suggested that the human-animal bond merits attention in counselling training, research and practice.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2013
Pages 105
Department Clinical Counselling
Degree Master of Arts (Clinical Counselling)
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10034/314594
Language English
University University of Chester
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Human-animal bond
  3. Human-animal relationships
  4. Pet ownership
  5. Pets and companion animals
  6. Phenomenological Research
  7. Relationships