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Pet Therapy and Reducing College Stress

By Margot L. Wiscovitch

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Pet therapy is the interaction between an animal and person working to overcome physical as well as emotional issues. This type of therapy has been used in a variety of settings and populations including nursing homes and residents, hospitals and patients, residential treatment centers and substance dependence users, schools and children, group counseling and adolescents, universities and students. Many universities have begun using pet therapy on campus for student therapy and campus living. Leading news sources have reported that some campuses are now incorporating animal-assisted programs allowing students to have their pets be part of campus life and scheduled pet therapy days (Daeman, 2013; Herrman, 2010; Williams, 2011). The use of pet therapy on college campuses has increased significantly as a stress reducing technique for college students. College students’ stress can stem from text anxiety, feelings of home sickness, adjusting to new experiences and campus living, fear of failing a class and pressure in deciding future career goals. Because stress is a major issue among college students, there is concern that stress can increase the likelihood of suicide. Courses of action taken by college students for reducing stress included a few that are unhealthy such as drinking and promiscuous behavior, but also include healthier options like religion, optimism, and spirituality (Burris, Brechting, Salsman, and Carlson, 2009). For college students, dealing with all of these issues can be overwhelming, especially because they are out of their comfort zone. Having an animal to interact with can create a new sense of home as well as community. This sense of belonging and community can help the student feel less stressed. Based on this, dogs used in pet therapy are an effective tool in reducing stress in college students because they provide comfort and temporary relief from academic and psychosocial problems.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date April 2014
Pages 24
Language English
Institution University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Dogs
  3. Mammals
  4. open access
  5. Pet therapy
  6. Stress
  7. students
  8. Universities and Colleges
  1. open access