WHAT IMPACT DOES ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY HAVE AN ON THE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING AND BEHAVIOR OF JUNIOR HIGH STUDENTS?
Kathryn Conley Wehrmann
Animal-assisted therapy in the therapeutic context has been used for approximately 50 years. Initially, animal-assisted interventions were created for the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and children. In recent years, the use of animal-assisted therapy with individuals who have experienced trauma or are diagnosed with PTSD has increased. The co-PI is currently completing a yearlong MSW internship at a public junior high school located in Central Illinois, which has two certified therapy dogs working with the students. One therapy dog has been working with the students since the beginning of the school year in 2017. The other therapy dog started working with the students at the beginning of this year's school year. Students are able to request to meet with the therapy dog during counseling sessions. The therapy dogs are also present during passing periods in the hallways and can also make visits to classrooms. The co-PI will observe interactions between students and the therapy dogs, as well as interview students who have worked with the therapy dogs. The co-PI will also interview the school social workers, teachers, and administrators to gather qualitative data about the impact animal-assisted therapy has on behavior, stress response, and overall school climate.
Cushing, Kelsey, "WHAT IMPACT DOES ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY HAVE AN ON THE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING AND BEHAVIOR OF JUNIOR HIGH STUDENTS?" (2019). University Research Symposium. 179.