Positive Effects of Animals for Psychosocially Vulnerable People: A Turning Point for Delivery

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

17 Scopus citations


This chapter first reviews the research-based information about the benefits of pets, especially for the most vulnerable people, and then addresses the practical implementation of this expanding research. The positive psychosocial effects of human/animal relationships engage interest, arising from firsthand experiences with pet animals and scientific curiosity, as well as the practical questions concerning how best to include pets as an adjunct for treatment for an autistic child or a paraplegic veteran, or to enhance the quality of life of an elderly person in an assisted-living facility. Despite the ever-growing research literature on the psychosocial effects of animals, a significant gap remains between that knowledge base and implementing it into treatment or support services for psychosocially vulnerable people. This chapter suggests that to enjoy the positive effects, a relationship with an animal should be individually tailored to the psychosocial characteristics of the person. Epidemiological studies of entire communities identify subcultures where certain individual circumstances, neighborhoods, geographical features, or special situations are associated with beneficial or adverse health parameters. Employing epidemiological methods with statistical representation of the entire community offers a view of the context, including the community's affluence, geography, age, gender, and ethnicity of pet-owning participants. The new development will spearhead the creation and availability of curricular resources and enhance the number of people prepared to provide leadership in the area of human/animal interaction, bringing research into practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780123814531
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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