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Psychologists' Use of Dogs in Psychotherapy: A Therapeutic Exploration

By Christine A. Treece

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The current fund of literature documents the many benefits of using dogs as adjunct healing agents for both physical and psychological ailments. Despite the ever-growing body of research about dogs as adjunct interventions, there is a meager amount of information available about clinician’s experience of bringing their dogs to work with them. This dissertation is an in-depth exploration of six psychologists licensed in the state of Washington who brought their dogs with them to work. Each participant’s interview was analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. From their interviews, nine primary themes were identified: Reason for the Acquisition of Dog, Nature of Dog, The Human-Dog Relationship, Interventions, Value of Dog in Therapy, Impact on Dogs, When a Dog is Not Available, Downside of Having a Dog in the Room, and Grief and Loss When Dog is No Longer Available. Responses included differences from existing literature including the multiple rolls the dogs play during the work day, how dogs are affected by attending therapy, specific ways dogs are utilized as therapeutic interventions, and some challenges of bringing a dog to the office daily.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Pages 168
Degree Doctor of Psychology
Language English
University Antioch University Seattle
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted interventions
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. open access
  4. Psychologists
  1. open access