The Process of Integrating Animal-Assisted Therapy into Clinical Social Work Practice

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Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is considered an effective treatment model to use with a variety of populations and conditions, from autism to substance abuse, due to its flexible nature. As an integrative model, it often incorporates core modalities such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy and Gestalt therapy. Although there is a growing body of research addressing the efficacy of AAT, there is limited information on the actual process of utilizing AAT in clinical social work practice. Research shows that many clinicians support the use of AAT with clients but fail to integrate it into their own practice due to a lack of knowledge on the process of utilizing the model. This paper explores the process of integrating AAT into direct clinical practice and the theoretical basis for utilizing AAT as an adjunctive treatment model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Attachment
  • Canine-assisted psychotherapy
  • Implementation
  • Integrative treatment
  • Mindfulness
  • Object relations
  • Process
  • Psychodynamic
  • Psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic alliance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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