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The Use of Animal-Assisted Interventions in Social Services: A Literature Synthesis

By Rebecca Sheluk

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The field of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI’s) is emerging and developing steadily, however the available literature which addresses this field is limited. This literature synthesis includes 27 articles from this limited pool and addresses what AAI programs exist, how they are being studied, and what the results of these studies are. This synthesis identifies characteristics of current AAI programs, and the methods being used to assess them, and groups findings from all 27 articles thematically. Findings suggest that AAI’s help participants in developing life skills, improve their desire to attend and participate in the intervention, support feelings of non-judgement and the generation of trust within the therapeutic relationship, help to alleviate a variety of symptoms, and are typically cost efficient. Findings also indicate the potential for AAI’s to improve participants levels of sociability and self-esteem but these findings are not consistent across studies. Finally, a number of questions and areas for further research are identified, which will support continued development, and improve effectiveness of these interventions.


Katie Carroll

Date 2016
Publication Title Animalia
Pages 1-27
Publisher Canisius College
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animal-assisted therapies
  4. Animal roles
  5. Animals in literature.
  6. Assisted living facilities
  7. Cats
  8. Dogs
  9. Hospices
  10. Human-animal bond
  11. Long-term care facilities
  12. Mammals
  13. Nursing homes
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. Social Services
  16. therapy animals