Animal-assisted therapies (AATs) are not widely promoted in routine mental healthcare but represent a viable treatment option given positive perceptions of pets and growing evidence that animals provide meaningful contribution to psychological wellbeing. Relatively little is known about the general public's attitude toward AATs, especially in relation to more commonly used alternatives. This study compared the acceptability of four different treatment options (AAT, medication, psychotherapy, and no active treatment) for common externalizing behaviors in children. Parents from a community sample ( N=189) were presented with vignettes describing a child with symptoms of an externalizing behavior disorder and were asked to rate the acceptability of the four different treatment options. Participants rated AAT as a highly acceptable form of treatment and more acceptable than no active treatment and medication. However, AAT was rated as less acceptable than psychotherapy. Experiences with animals (both positive and negative) were unrelated to the acceptability of AAT. These findings suggest that AAT is viewed as a highly acceptable form of treatment for common externalizing behaviors and should be more systematically investigated as a treatment for children's mental health problems.
|Author Address||Department of Psychology, Yale University, 2 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8205, USA.email@example.com|
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