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Alternative Therapies for People with Special Needs: An Emphasis on Animal-Assisted Therapies

By Emily Hamilton

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Category Theses

This paper contains research examining the effectiveness of alternative therapies - play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, horticulture therapy, and animal-assisted therapies – in helping various special needs populations. The focus of this research was on animal-assisted therapies that utilized therapy dogs or horses. These therapies provide a plethora of benefits physically, mentally, and psychologically. 11 interviews were conducted with counselors, psychologists, therapy dog owners, and an equine therapy director to further examine the effectiveness of these alternative therapy programs. Each interview presented unique evidence of the positive impact these therapies are having on various populations. All research into these therapy programs indicated confidence as a major benefit for their participants. These alternative therapy programs are demonstrating evidence of their effectiveness through the achievements of the therapeutic goals and confidence gained by their participants.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Pages 54
Department University Honors Program
Language English
University Gardner-Webb University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Disabilities
  4. Dogs
  5. Equine-assisted activities
  6. Hippotherapy
  7. Horses
  8. Mammals
  9. open access
  10. special needs
  1. open access