Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Animals-Therapeutic use, Human-animal relationships, Compassion, Animal welfare, Social adjustment, Animal assisted therapy, Human-animal bond


Animal-assisted therapy is an increasingly popular mode of therapeutic treatment, supported by a body of research that has grown significantly in the past decade. Thirteen seasoned clinicians utilizing the human-animal bond (HAB) were interviewed about the HAB's impact on clients at the internal level of experienced compassion and the corresponding external level of pro-social behavior. Major finding were that clinicians overwhelmingly endorsed the HAB as an effective intervention in increasing client capacity for compassionate mindfulness and engagement with others in a more satisfying and pro-social way. Participants strongly recommended that the field of social work be more inclusive of animal-assisted therapy and proposed investigations of the mental health benefits of the HAB, both in research and inclusion in graduate-level curricula. Additionally, findings brought forth animal welfare as a domain for necessary concert in implementation of the HAB in clinical work as well as the greater field of social work.




v, 65 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 55-57)