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Order Out of Chaos: A Call for Clear and Agreed-Upon Definitions Differentiating Between Animal-Assisted Interventions

By Nancy Parish-Plass

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Category Magazine Articles
Abstract

Confusion abounds in the world of animal-assisted interventions (AAI) due to lack of clarity surrounding their definitions. This problem in terminology leads to a blurring of boundaries between different interventions, disagreement concerning type of actions, goals and degree of training and certification needed for humans and accompanying animals involved in interventions associated with any given field, and negative implications for practice, research and policy decisions. This editorial article takes a critical look at current attempts at defining these interventions through definitions, descriptions of training, and credentials for acceptance into AAI-related organizations. A call is made for a typology which sets clear expectations for each AAI and clear limits between them, taking into account the richness of each animal-assisted field. Once the expectations, definitions and limits are clear and widely accepted, those involved in the interventions will have a clearer view of and respect for their own work and for that of others. Dialogue may then develop between various AAI fields about issues concerning all, such as ethics and possibilities for cooperation, leading to improvements in practice, research and policy decisions. 

Date 2014
Publication Title Animals and Society: The Israeli Journal for the Connection between People and Animals
Issue 50
Pages 71-79
Publisher "Animals and Society" Unit, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University
Location of Publication Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animal-assisted therapies