Pets, animal-assisted therapy and social inclusion
Holttum, S. 2018. Pets, animal-assisted therapy and social inclusion. Mental Health and Social Inclusion. 22 (2), pp. 65-71.
Purpose: Humans have close relationships with animals for companionship and in working roles. The purpose of this paper is to discuss recent papers on pets and dog-assisted interventions, and relates their findings to social inclusion.
Design/methodology/approach: A search was carried out for recent papers on pets, animal-assisted therapy and social inclusion/exclusion.
Findings: One paper discusses theories (often lacking in studies of animal-assisted therapy) of why animals may be good for human health and development. A recent review shows evidence that family pet ownership may aid children’s well-being, learning and social development, but too few studies have followed children over time in pet and non-pet households. Studies of dog-assisted interventions show stress-reduction, which in turn may explain why therapy for mental health in young people and adults was more effective with a dog than without. Social inclusion is hinted at but not measured directly, yet dog-assisted therapy might be helpful in this regard.
Originality/value: All the papers discussed in detail here represent up-to-date understanding in this area of knowledge. Benefits of human-animal bonds, especially with dogs, appear to be well-supported by biological as well as observational and self-report evidence. More research is needed on how much these attachments may assist social relating and relationships with other people, and social inclusion.
|Keywords||Social inclusion; attachment; theories; dog-assisted therapy; Pet owning|
|Journal||Mental Health and Social Inclusion|
|Journal citation||22 (2), pp. 65-71|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||doi:10.1108/MHSI-02-2018-0004|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||15 Jan 2019|
|Accepted||12 Feb 2018|
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