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Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy: Theory, Issues and Practice

Edited by NANCY PARISH-PLASS
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Purdue University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wq5c3
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    Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy
    Book Description:

    The use of animals by psychotherapists has been a growing trend. Psychological problems treated include emotional and behavioral problems, attachment issues, trauma, and developmental disorders. An influential 1970s survey suggests that over 20 percent of therapists in the psychotherapy division of the American Psychological Association incorporated animals into their treatment in some fashion. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the number is much higher today. Since Yeshiva psychologist Boris Levinson popularized the use of animals in the 1960s, Israel has come to be perhaps the most advanced country in the world in the area of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP). This is true especially in the area of training programs, theory-building, and clinical practice. Great effort has been put into understanding the mechanisms behind AAP, as well as into developing ethical guidelines that take into account the therapist's responsibility toward both client and animal. This book exposes the world to the theory and practice of AAP as conceived and used in Israel. It emphasizes evidence-based and clinically sound applications, differentiating between AAP, a psychotherapeutic approach, and AAE (animal-assisted education) and AAA (animal-assisted activities), both of which are psychoeducational. Not anyone and his/her dog can become an animal-assisted therapist, and this volume demonstrates not only the promise of animal-assisted psychotherapeutic approaches, but also some of the challenges the field still needs to overcome to gain widespread legitimacy.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-273-5
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xx)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)

    Animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) is a burgeoning field of psychotherapy which has received much attention in Israel over the past few years. As practiced here, it is based upon the belief that emotional difficulties and pathologies likely originate from problematic relationships in the past, and therefore the client must use relationships in the here and now in order to change. Virtually all psychotherapy approaches rely at least to some extent on the relationship between the client and the therapist. One brilliant aspect of integrating animals into the therapy setting is that the setting becomes a laboratory for relationships. Expanding on the...

  6. THEORY
    • 1 THE INTEGRATION OF ANIMALS INTO THE THERAPY PROCESS AND ITS IMPLICATIONS AS A UNIQUE MEDIUM IN PSYCHOTHERAPY
      (pp. 3-46)
      Dror Oren and Nancy Parish-Plass

      At this time in the development of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP), which is still in its infancy in terms of the state of research and theory development, it is necessary to find a way to understand the mechanisms behind the processes that occur in AAP. Appendix B contains a list of the various roles animals fulfill in psychotherapy, according to various psychological theories, which sheds light on this subject. In this chapter we come from a different direction, describing a unifying model that delineates the implications for the psychotherapy process of the presence of an animal, in all that this presence...

    • 2 THE ANIMAL AS A RELATIONAL MEDIUM: AN OBJECT RELATIONS APPROACH TO THE THERAPY TRIANGLE IN ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
      (pp. 47-64)
      Nancy Parish-Plass and Dror Oren

      As mentioned in Chapter 1, the animal’s presence, characteristics, and behavior stimulate the client’s sensory system, causing emotional and cognitive reactions such as associations, thoughts, and interpretations, which eventually lead to verbal and behavioral reactions. These reactions are likely to be influenced by the client’s internal models of interpersonal interaction based upon the history of interaction with significant others in the client’s interpersonal world. This process is reminiscent of Bowlby’s (1969) theory of internal working models, which states that the nature of people’s interactions with others in the present is based upon their inner representations, or internal working models, of...

    • 3 PROJECTION AND PROJECTIVE OBJECT IN CHILD ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
      (pp. 65-78)
      Rachel Ben David

      The advantages of pet-oriented child psychotherapy are usually attributed to animals as facilitators of relationships, as a source of connection, relaxation, comfort, and empowerment (Levinson & Mallon, 1997). These attributions are true in most therapeutic processes, which include the triangular therapist-client-animal relationship. The literature on human-pet bonds indicates that they often meet the four prerequisites for an attachment bond: proximity seeking, safe haven, secure base, and separation distress (Ainsworth, 1991; Hazan & Zeifman, 1994). Nevertheless, the animal’s central role as object¹ of projection is often neglected even within the most supportive literature of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP). The main goal of...

    • 4 THE CONTRIBUTION OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY TO THE POTENTIAL SPACE IN PLAY THERAPY
      (pp. 79-110)
      Nancy Parish-Plass

      This chapter is partially based upon a lecture on the subject of play therapy and animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) by Dikla Tzur, a clinical psychologist who was a lecturer at Oranim College in the area of AAP. Tzur’s first experience in AAP was similar to that of Boris Levinson, whose dog, Jingles, also wandered into his therapy setting and led him to write his seminal work,Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy, together with a number of articles in respected journals in the field of psychology. It was natural for Tzur, a clinical child psychologist and a person for whom animals have always been an...

    • 5 ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY FROM AN ATTACHMENT PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 111-144)
      Sigal Zilcha-Mano

      This chapter presents a model for animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) influenced by the principles of attachment theory (Bowlby, 1973, 1980, 1982) and based on the unique characteristics of the human-pet relationship. First, I present the claim that a pet can fulfill the functions of an attachment figure and show that pets share equivalent characteristics and functions with human attachment figures. Second, I focus on the uniqueness of pets compared with other attachment figures and discuss the therapeutic role that pets can fulfill in corrective emotional experiences. Third, I present an attachment-based model for AAP that is based on the special position...

    • 6 ELEMENTS OF GROUP PSYCHOTHERAPY FOUND IN INDIVIDUAL ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
      (pp. 145-170)
      Hadas Ish-Lev and Roni Amit

      In her article on the subject of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) with children suffering from insecure attachment due to abuse and neglect, Parish-Plass (2008) suggested a new point of view for understanding the therapy processes that exist in the framework of AAP. She points out that there are many principles of AAP that are reminiscent of advantages afforded by group psychotherapy. This chapter attempts to develop and clarify the ideas which are the basis for this view. We believe that exploring elements of group psychotherapy as they relate to AAP will assist therapists in gaining a broader understanding of the therapeutic...

    • 7 THE THERAPY ZOO AS A MIRROR TO THE PSYCHE
      (pp. 171-220)
      Efrat Maayan

      Therapy in the therapy zoo setting is different in many aspects from regular clinical therapy. The client who enters this setting meets with an assortment of animals, some in the therapy room and some in the yard, cages, or open areas. The variety of animals differs from zoo to zoo, yet most therapy zoos include small rodents such as hamsters, laboratory rats, and gerbils; larger rodents such as rabbits and guinea pigs; various types of parrots; and to the extent that there are both space and budget, goats, donkeys, ferrets, ducks, and other larger animals. A setting such as this...

    • 8 EQUINE-FACILITATED PSYCHOTHERAPY: PRACTICE, THEORY, AND EMPIRICAL KNOWLEDGE
      (pp. 221-242)
      Keren Bachi

      Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) is a form of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) used to treat human psychological problems that employs horses in and around the natural surroundings of the stables. Despite the increasing number of professionals and organizations that offer this innovative therapy, EFP lacks a firm theoretical and research base.

      Discussions about how animals can be involved in the therapeutic process were absent from the professional literature until the 1960s. Levinson (1962, 1978), who was the first to address professional concepts in the field of animal-assisted therapy (AAT), asserted that a connection to animals, especially during childhood and old age, positively...

  7. ISSUES
    • 9 DILEMMAS, QUESTIONS, AND ISSUES CONCERNING THE INTEGRATION OF ANIMALS INTO THE PSYCHOTHERAPY SETTING
      (pp. 245-260)
      Nancy Parish-Plass and Dror Oren

      An animal is a broad, rich, and powerful medium. Animals are natural objects of projection and transference from the client’s inner world, and the client unconsciously uses them to reenact situations from the past, either at the level of thinking patterns or at the level of behavior. This process brings up many related issues, questions, and dilemmas. Some of the questions are related to ethical issues concerning the physical and/or psychological wellbeing of the client and of the animal. Other questions are related to choices of possible directions during the therapy process.

      When one brings an animal into a room,...

    • 10 THE UNIQUE ETHICAL STANCE OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
      (pp. 261-272)
      Rachel Ben David

      Animal use by human beings is a controversial subject (Knight & Barnett, 2008). The worduseconstructs the animal as an object, and animal use is usually for one of three purposes: to meet survival needs (e.g., medical research, food), for personal esthetics (e.g., cosmetic experiments, fur wear), or for entertainment (e.g., sport hunting, bullfighting performances, rodeos, circuses, zoos). This chapter explores the uniqueness of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) in relation to other practices involving the use of animals and discusses the exploitation of animals through the understanding of the complex, exclusive ethical state of this discipline. Also discussed are ethical...

    • 11 WHY ISRAEL? A UNIQUE DIRECTION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DEFINITION AND PRACTICE OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
      (pp. 273-284)
      Nancy Parish-Plass and Sari Bar-On

      The development of animal-assisted psychotherapy in Israel has been meteoric and impressive in terms of theory development, the high level of professional training required, the character of the practice in the field, AAP’s place in the world of psychotherapy in general, and its high standards. In order to understand the reasons for and basis of the current state of the field of AAP in Israel today, it helps to review the history and course of the development of the field.

      In Israel, petting zoos were a common phenomenon in the Kibbutzim (communal settlements) and the schools of the youth villages...

    • 12 LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS OF THE EQUINE-FACILITATED PSYCHOTHERAPY FIELD
      (pp. 285-296)
      Keren Bachi

      An overview of the equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) field, including background and definitions, conceptual framework, state of practice, and empirical knowledge, are provided in Chapter 8. This chapter provides an overview of the past and current organizational state and a life cycle analysis of this field.

      It appears that there is a consensus within the field that equine-facilitated intervention as a therapeutic or educational method was not created by any one individual or organization. Rather, it emerged as a collaborative effort in which many professionals offered ideas, insights, and ways of practice. It was not until 1960 that therapeutic riding and...

    • 13 IS ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY A PROFESSION? THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY OF THE ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN ISRAEL
      (pp. 297-346)
      Sari Bar-on, Anna Shapiro and Anat Gendelman

      In recent years, the use of animal-assisted interventions (AAI) has greatly increased as a way of responding to the needs of diverse populations. People engaging in various types of AAI differ from each other in their basic education and training, their work objectives, and their orientation (experiential, medical, educational, or mental health).

      The first written reference regarding the integration of animals in therapeutic treatment in mental institutions tells of the introduction of animals into York Retreat Asylum in England in 1892, with the aim to reduce the amount of strong medication and restraining methods used (Urichuk & Anderson, 2003). In...

  8. PRACTICE
    • 14 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ANIMALISTIC AND THE ARTISTIC: A THERAPEUTIC MODEL INTEGRATING ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY WITH ART THERAPY
      (pp. 249-384)
      Efrat Maayan and Elana Lakh

      Efrat: As a clinical psychologist and an animal-assisted psychotherapist, many times I have felt that the encounter between those that came to my therapy zoo and the animals within their surroundings awakens a great emotional intensity and often a direct connection to primal, nonverbal layers of the psyche. These deep experiences sometimes are left unattended because in the classic manner in which most of us work, the working through of experiences is done through words. However, in the case of experiences that took place in or before the early period of verbal development, it is impossible to work through them...

    • 15 “WHAT DOES THE TURTLE HAVE INSIDE ITS HOUSE?” ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY WITH FOSTER CHILDREN
      (pp. 385-398)
      Shira Hellmann

      The need for a third factor in therapy, uniting and yet dividing, is brought up frequently during therapy with children, and there are many solutions for this need in various types of therapy. In this chapter this need is addressed through animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP). In therapy sessions involving animals, the animal is a mediator between the client and the therapist, enabling the creation of a “no man’s land” wherein the interaction between the client and the therapist takes place, while guarding the child’s feelings of safety. This chapter provides a review of a therapy process for foster children that incorporates...

    • 16 “TAKE ME UNDER YOUR WING”—LOVE IN ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY: A CLINICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE UNIQUE THERAPEUTIC BOND BETWEEN ANIMALS AND HUMANS
      (pp. 399-412)
      Sarit Lev-Bendov and Inbar Barel

      Why is it so natural and commonplace to speak of love in poetry, and yet so perplexing to discuss it in the context of psychotherapy? How can countless poets and singers idealize love and be intensely preoccupied with it, while the greatest names in the field of psychology are continually debating and cannot seem to reach an agreement about if and when it is permissible to use the wordlovein connection with therapy?

      And what of the animal kingdom? Why do zoologists also argue whether or not love actually exists in nonhuman animals? What makes it so terribly difficult...

    • 17 ANIMAL-ASSISTED GROUP PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR CHILDREN
      (pp. 413-430)
      Orit Harel

      I was first exposed to animal-assisted group psychotherapy (AAGP) as a student in Elana Lach and Efrat Maayan’s course in the integration of art and animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP; see Chapter 14). I had several significant experiences during the workshop, especially in a group context. For instance, during a session in the petting zoo, I felt very annoyed toward a rabbit who urinated on me. When my friend told the group how the donkey bit her in the chest, it was a tremendous relief. Her account was so funny and full of compassion toward both herself and the donkey that immediately...

  9. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 431-438)

    As has been mentioned throughout this book, animals add a great deal of richness, variety, and choice to the practice of psychotherapy. Animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) therapists may choose a certain theoretical approach and stay within the boundaries of that approach, or choose to leave clients in the center and use the theoretical approaches that are appropriate to client’s needs at various stages. The animals will be there, and AAP therapists can allow clients to use the animals in the ways that they need to at any particular point in therapy. For instance, an animal may fulfill a client’s need for...

  10. APPENDIX A THE CHILD AND THE ANIMAL AND THE POTENTIAL SPACE BETWEEN: A COMPARISON OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED EDUCATION AND ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
    (pp. 439-446)
    Tamar Axelrad-Levy and Michal Motro
  11. APPENDIX B ROLES OF ANIMALS IN ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
    (pp. 447-452)
  12. APPENDIX C CODE OF ETHICS: THE ISRAELI ASSOCIATION OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
    (pp. 453-461)
  13. APPENDIX D THE 18TH SESSION OF THE ISRAELI KNESSET
    (pp. 462-466)
  14. APPENDIX E REPRESENTATIVE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM IN ANIMAL-ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY
    (pp. 467-470)
  15. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 471-476)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 477-498)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 499-499)