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Becoming relationally effective: High-risk boys in animal-assisted therapy

By Abbey Ann Schneider

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This study was conducted to formally evaluate the effectiveness of the Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC, 2010), an animal-assisted therapy (AAT) intervention based in 23 elementary schools in the Front Range; these terms are used interchangeably in this report. Previous research on the benefits of human and dog relationships has provided support for using measures of attachment to rate the quality of connection within this dyad (Kurdek, 2008; Melson, 2003; Triebenbacher, 1998). The Emotional Availability (EA) Scales 4th Edition (Biringen, 2008), an attachment-derived system, were used to objectively evaluate the interactions in the human-animal team, representing the first use of the EA system to assess the quality of the human-animal bond. In addition, the Bonding Scale (Angle, Blumentritt, & Swank, 1994) was used to assess the child's report of bonding to the dog, the Child Behavior Checklist and the Teacher Report Form (Achenbach, 1991) were used to assess behavior problems, and school records yielded information about attendance
and disciplinary referrals. All of the participants in this study were boys considered to be at high-risk for internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Paired-sample t-tests revealed that EA (child-dog and child-adult) significantly increased from pre- to post-test. (Child-adult EA iii scores apply to the child's display of EA towards both the adult dog trainer and the school professional on the HABIC team.) In addition, a significant decrease was seen in student disciplinary referrals from pre- to post-test.


Deborah Maron

Date 2011
Degree Master of Science
Language English
Notes This thesis is located in the Digital Collections of Colorado
University Colorado State University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Attachment behavior
  3. Child behavior
  4. Companion
  5. Depression
  6. Health
  7. Human-animal bond
  8. Human-animal interactions
  9. Human-animal relationships
  10. Human development
  11. Mathematics and statistics
  12. Quality of life
  13. Relationships
  14. Special Education
  15. Suicide