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Evaluating animal-assisted therapy in group treatment for child sexual abuse

By Tracy J. Dietz, Diana Davis, Jacquelyn Pennings

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This study evaluates and compares the effectiveness of three group interventions on trauma symptoms for children who have been sexually abused. All of the groups followed the same treatment protocol, with two of them incorporating variations of animal-assisted therapy. A total of 153 children ages 7 to 17 who were in group therapy at a Child Advocacy Center participated in the study. Results indicate that children in the groups that included therapy dogs showed significant decreases in trauma symptoms including anxiety, depression, anger, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, and sexual concerns. In addition, results show that children who participated in the group with therapeutic stories showed significantly more change than the other groups. Implications and suggestions for further research are discussed.

Publication Title Journal of Child Sexual Abuse
Volume 21
Issue 6
Pages 665-683
ISBN/ISSN 1053-8712, 1053-8712
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10538712.2012.726700
Language English
Author Address Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Dietz, Tracy J.; Davis, Diana; Pennings, Jacquelyn (2013), "Evaluating animal-assisted therapy in group treatment for child sexual abuse,"

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  1. Adolescents
  2. Africa
  3. Anger
  4. Animal-assisted therapies
  5. Anxiety disorders
  6. Child abuse
  7. Children
  8. Depression
  9. Dissociative Disorders
  10. Females
  11. Follow-up studies
  12. Group therapy
  13. Latinos/Latinas
  14. Males
  15. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  16. rape
  17. Sexual behavior
  18. Storytelling
  19. survivors
  20. trauma
  21. treatment effectiveness
  22. United States of America
  23. urban population