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

By Abbey Ann Schneider, Josie Rosenberg, Megan Baker, Nate Melia, Ben Granger, and Zeynep Biringen

Category Journal Articles

This study was conducted to formally evaluate the effectiveness of the Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC, 2010), a well-developed animal-assisted therapy (AAT) intervention based in 23 elementary schools in the Front Range. Previous research on the benefits of human and dog relationships, otherwise called the human-animal bond, 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 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.

Date 2014
Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 2
Issue 1
Pages 1-18
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. APEC countries
  4. Attachment
  5. Canidae
  6. Canine
  7. Carnivores
  8. Children
  9. Colorado
  10. Communication
  11. Developed countries
  12. Dogs
  13. Emotions
  14. Humans
  15. Mammals
  16. Men
  17. Non-communicable diseases and injuries
  18. North America
  19. OECD countries
  20. open access
  21. Parent-Child Relations
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. Pets and companion animals
  24. Primates
  25. prophylaxis
  26. Psychiatry and psychology
  27. Psychotherapy
  28. Relationships
  29. Social psychology and social anthropology
  30. therapy
  31. United States of America
  32. vertebrates
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed