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Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy Among Children with Mental Health Disorders

By Alysa Amelio

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Background: Mental health illness is on the rise amongst children in the United States. Research is still underway about alternative forms of therapy to provide to this vulnerable population. One of the alternative therapies utilized is Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT).

Objectives: The aim of this study was to identify the effects of AAT on children whom have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Method: An integrative literature review was conducted to include primary research that was peer reviewed, and completed within the last ten years. Data synthesis and analysis was completed to identify themes within the literature. The themes were then put into subgroups and analyzed.

Results: The commonly identified mental health disorders among children that were examined were anxiety, depression, and socialization issues. Studies showed symptom improvements amongst the subjects with each given diagnoses and AAT was implemented in a variety of settings.

Conclusion: The theme that exists among the articles reviewed is that there is a need for further evidence in the effects of AAT on children with mental health conditions. Further research is needed to evaluate how long the positive effects of AAT last, the amount of therapy needed to produce a durable effect, and ways to extend the benefits beyond the therapy setting.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 17 November 2017
Format PDF
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Anxiety
  3. Children
  4. Mental health and well-being
  5. open access
  6. Socialization
  1. open access