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Jeanine M. Miller Adams is the author of chapter thirty-two (32) on The Role of Animals and Animal-Assisted Therapy in Stressful Life Situations, in the book titled Handbook of Stressful Transitions Across the Lifespan edited by Tomas W. Miller. Adams describes animal-assisted therapy (AAT) as a beneficial therapy for both humans and animals, playing a significant role in the lives of people effected by strenuous stressful situations. In this chapter, there are three case examples provided by Adams that give perspective into the therapy provided by this form, along with multiple terms and other documented uses of animal therapy.
Adams begins by explaining in the eighteenth century, there was cruel treatment to individuals within the asylums, and taking care of animals enriched their lives (Moore, 1984); William Tuke first documented this. Since that time, Adams describes many added branches of therapy to the progression using AAT as a part of the healing process—occupational, physical, speech, and psychological. She finds about nine-teen programs with groups populated together that receive beneficial treatment from AAT; those groups range from “psychiatric/emotional disturbance and behavioral disorders (Bardill and Hutchinson 1997; Banman 1995; Granger et al.
1998)”; to “adult day care (Holcomb et al. 1997)” and “anger management (Hanselman 2001)”
In case study one, the aides said when the dog visited was the only time they saw a smile on Mr. H. His quality of life was improved, according to Harris et al. 1993 reportsthat the only time they saw him smile was when the dog visited. His dog, “Blitz”, has improved his quality of life.
In these types of programs, dogs are paired full-time with carefully selected prison inmates and trained for 8–18 months. The dogs are later placed as assistance dogs with a person with disabilities.
The inmates who train the dogs feel as though they are giving something back to the community they once violated. They gain skills training, boarding, and grooming the dogs. In addition, they learn valuable pet industry-related vocational skills to use when seeking employment after prison. She had good speech comprehension.
Her writing abilities were moderately impaired, as she was required to change her dominant hand from right to left due to her hemiplegia. She became frustrated as she struggled to verbalize her thoughts and recognized the errors and distortions in her speech. WA showed improvement with one-word answers, object identification tasks, and verbalization behaviors. Pets can be considered a significant attachment figure in the promotion of general mental health and in the treatment of disturbed populations.
The dog helped the adolescents have increased feelings of self-worth and less emptiness in their lives. In this case, the adolescents formed a meaningful attachment to the dog, which helped them to feel trust, safety, and comfort. Abraham Maslow discussed the importance of and need for self-esteem, which is satisfaction with, confidence in, and the valuing of oneself. Animal assisted therapy contributes to the development or enhancement of self-esteem.
The skills they learn contribute to increased self-esteem for the participants. Animal assisted therapy helps many individuals in a wide variety of situations. It is a growing form of therapy with benefits for both the humans and the animals involved.
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