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Animal-Assisted Intervention for Trauma, Including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Marguerite E. O'Haire, Noémie A. Guérin, Alison Claire Kirkham, Courtney L. Daigle

Category Reports

The inclusion of animals in psychological treatment - known as Animal-Assisted Intervention (AAI) - is a common and widely accepted component of mental healing and therapy. Animals were first incorporated into mental health institution programs during the late eighteenth century to increase socialization among patients (Serpell, 2006). Today, a number of programs in the United States report involving animals in their services in some capacity. One of the most commonly targeted populations for Animal-Assisted Intervention are individuals who have experienced trauma, including those with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; Tedeschi, Fine, & Helgeson, 2010). Despite the ubiquity of positive media in support of these programs, little empirical evidence exists quantifying their effects and supporting their practices. In this brief, we report the state of the scientific literature on Animal-Assisted Intervention for trauma, highlight the commonly reported outcomes of this practice, and provide recommendations for future research.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date August 2015
Series Title HABRI Central Briefs
Pages 8
Language English
Institution Purdue University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animal roles
  3. HABRI Central Briefs
  4. Health
  5. Pet ownership
  6. Pets and companion animals
  7. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  8. Service animals
  9. trauma