Title of Presentation

Session B: Do Human Animal Interventions benefit humans at the expense of the well-being of animals?

Sub-theme

Practice

Keywords

Human Animal Interventions, Animal Assisted Therapy, animal welfare, therapy animals

Start Date

12-10-2018 10:15 AM

End Date

12-10-2018 11:30 AM

Abstract

The number of professionals incorporating animals into the therapeutic milieu is increasing along with mounting evidence as to the therapeutic benefits for humans. These benefits include reduction of trauma, anxiety and depression symptoms, decreases in blood pressure and heart rate, and improved perception of quality of health (Lefkowitz, Paharia, Prout, Debiak & Bleibert, 2005). Additionally, practitioners find increases in clients’ comfort levels in sessions (Fine, 2010) and increases in motivation to attend sessions (Lange, Cox, Bernert & Jenkins, 2007). Since it is often the mutual bond between animal and human that makes the efficacy of Human Animal Interventions (HAIs) possible, practitioners must attend to ethical responsibilities that ensure the safety and well-being of therapy animals; which includes operating within their scopes of practice and honoring their oath of nonmaleficence. This Do No Harm tenet must extend to the animals, which means having a solid understanding of species-specific behavior of the animal co-therapists and their basic needs (Horowitz & Bekoff, 2017), a subjective means of assessing the stress signals and taking immediate action. One study that involved HAIs with children with multiple disabilities was terminated due to the declining health of the therapy dog that was believed to be associated with excess stress (Glenk, 2017; Heimlich, 2001). When the practitioner is attuned to the animal’s signs of stress and acts upon it, he is more likely to enjoy the work. This presentation would identify ways to recognize, address and prevent stress in animals as well as make recommendations for the practitioner.

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Oct 12th, 10:15 AM Oct 12th, 11:30 AM

Session B: Do Human Animal Interventions benefit humans at the expense of the well-being of animals?

The number of professionals incorporating animals into the therapeutic milieu is increasing along with mounting evidence as to the therapeutic benefits for humans. These benefits include reduction of trauma, anxiety and depression symptoms, decreases in blood pressure and heart rate, and improved perception of quality of health (Lefkowitz, Paharia, Prout, Debiak & Bleibert, 2005). Additionally, practitioners find increases in clients’ comfort levels in sessions (Fine, 2010) and increases in motivation to attend sessions (Lange, Cox, Bernert & Jenkins, 2007). Since it is often the mutual bond between animal and human that makes the efficacy of Human Animal Interventions (HAIs) possible, practitioners must attend to ethical responsibilities that ensure the safety and well-being of therapy animals; which includes operating within their scopes of practice and honoring their oath of nonmaleficence. This Do No Harm tenet must extend to the animals, which means having a solid understanding of species-specific behavior of the animal co-therapists and their basic needs (Horowitz & Bekoff, 2017), a subjective means of assessing the stress signals and taking immediate action. One study that involved HAIs with children with multiple disabilities was terminated due to the declining health of the therapy dog that was believed to be associated with excess stress (Glenk, 2017; Heimlich, 2001). When the practitioner is attuned to the animal’s signs of stress and acts upon it, he is more likely to enjoy the work. This presentation would identify ways to recognize, address and prevent stress in animals as well as make recommendations for the practitioner.