“Thanks to this rigorously designed study, we now have strong evidence that pet therapy is an effective tool to help cancer patients get through challenging treatments,” said Gabriel A. Sara, MD, Medical Director, Infusion Suite at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Sara, 2015).
With mounting evidence in human and veterinary medicine that the emotional bond between people and companion animals can have a positive impact of emotional and physical health, Sara, along with J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, Zoetis group director of Companion Animal Veterinary Operations, followed 37 adult patients (25 male; 12 female) for six weeks while they received daily 15-to-20-minute animal-assisted visits. The patients had aggressive cancers in the head and neck, and chose rigorous combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy in advance of a smaller than otherwise planned surgery.
Assessments were made at baseline, week 3, and end of therapy (7 weeks) and included social and emotional well-being over a period where it would normally be expected to decline with the cumulative side-effect burdens of treatment.
Instead, social well-being showed an increase (overall p = 0.03; p baseline versus week 3 = 0.02; baseline versus week 7, p = 0.04). The means for emotional well-being also showed small increases over time, which were not significant when time was analyzed by itself. After controlling for declines in physical well-being at each time point, the increases in emotional well-being were both statistically significant (overall p- value = 0.004) and clinically meaningful (Fleishman et al., 2015).
Other studies have shown that animal-assisted therapy reduces symptoms of anxiety and loneliness among college students (Stewart et al, 2014), and reduces the need for medication after joint replacement surgery (Havey et al., 2014).
Animals also serve as “social ice-breakers” for stressed people which may motivate them to enroll in therapy (Gelnk et al., 2014) and can combat homesickness (Binfet & Passmore, 2016).
With benefits like this it makes sense that, more and more, animals are finding their way into therapy. But what are the best ways to work with animals? What populations are the best suited for? Are there any contraindications?
Knowing answers to questions like these allows clinicians to utilize the natural human-animal bond to help reach people who might otherwise be hesitant, help them connect more fully, and reach their therapeutic goals.
Animal Assisted Therapy is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral challenges, and emotional well-being. This course is designed provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. Course # 21-19 | 2018 | 37 pages | 15 posttest questions
This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).
Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!
Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).
Target Audience: Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapist (MFTs), Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Occupational Therapists (OTs), Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), School Psychologists, and Teachers