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    Anyone’s best friend: A qualitative exploration of the positive influences of animal assisted therapy on mental health and well-being

    Wood, Stephanie (2016) Anyone’s best friend: A qualitative exploration of the positive influences of animal assisted therapy on mental health and well-being. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    Animal assisted therapy is becoming a widely used alternative psychotherapy. Research has shown animals to have positive influences on the physical, emotional, social and psychological aspects of the human psyche. This study explored the positive influences animal assisted therapies had on mental health and psychological well-being. In this study, animal assisted therapy acted as an umbrella term for the variations of animals used such equine assisted therapy and therapy dogs. Participants were registered counsellors who utilised the therapy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, focusing on participants’ observations and experiences using animal assisted therapies with their clients. Thematic analysis produced four themes; Connection, Present Moment, Personal Growth and Freedom & Flexibility. Despite this study providing support for the effectiveness of animal assisted therapy, further research is needed to propel this alternative method forward. Animal assisted therapy has proven flexible enough to be embedded into current and widely used therapy techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural therapy. The popularity and successes of animal assisted therapies in the United States suggests that more attention needed to increase the work which has started here in the UK.

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