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Australas Psychiatry. 2018 Apr;26(2):196-199. doi: 10.1177/1039856217749056. Epub 2018 Feb 5.

Who let the dogs out? Therapy dogs in clinical practice.

Author information

1
Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Parkville, VIC, and; Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, and; Lead the Way, Animal-Assisted Interventions Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
2
Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Parkville, VIC, and; Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a growing field in Australia, and therapy dogs are becoming increasingly common in clinical settings. This paper aims to highlight the current issues facing AAT in Australia and to make recommendations on how to progress the field. We acknowledge that there are several ways that therapy dogs may enhance treatment outcomes for clients, such as reductions in stress and acute anxious arousal, and improvements in engagement and rapport. These psychological and physiological advantages, however, may not be sustained once interaction with the dog ceases. Clinicians require adequate training and support to develop and implement interventions that are based on sound theoretical foundations, and take advantage of the adjunctive benefits of animal presence.

CONCLUSIONS:

A series of recommendations are made for the professionalisation of AAT, including the development of consensus definitions, clinical governance, accreditation, research and evaluation.

KEYWORDS:

Animal-assisted therapy; best practice; clinical governance; recommendations; therapy dog

PMID:
29400550
DOI:
10.1177/1039856217749056
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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