Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy: Theory, Issues, and Practice (New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond)

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9781557536518: Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy: Theory, Issues, and Practice (New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond)

The integration of animals into the therapy setting 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 University psychologist Boris Levinson popularized the involvement of animals in psychotherapy 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 areas of academic 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 therapists 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 with psychotherapeutic goals, as differentiated from other animal-assisted interventions, such as AAE (animal-assisted education) and AAA (animal-assisted activities), which may have education or skills-oriented goals. Not just anyone with a dog can call him-or herself an animal-assisted therapist. 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.

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About the Author:

Nancy Parish-Plass studied psychology at Smith College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before working in early childhood education in Kibbutz children's houses in Israel. Later she received extensive training in animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP) at the pioneering Oranim College and in advanced stdies in psychotherapy at the Machon Magid Hebrew University School of Psychotherapy for experienced therapists in the field of mental health. Parish-Plass is the founding and current chairperson of the Israeli Association of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy, and she is spearheading the struggle for legal recognition of the field in the Israeli Knesset. Her specialty is in the area of animal-assisted psychotherapy with at-risk children, and she was most influenced in her professional development by memories of her relationship with her horse Baby Doll and her dog Tammy, as well as by all the children with whom she has worked.


This comprehensive volume stands as the state-of-the-art guide to Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy. Mental health professionals practicing Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy will repeatedly turn to this well-organized work for guidance and will find solid bridges linking between theoretical reasoning, empirical research, and psychotherapeutic practice. This volume is grounded in cutting-edge research and Parish-Plass has brought together the leading experts in the field of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy. --Mario Milulilncer Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya 

It is essential that the work [in Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy] is grounded in theory, research, and the highest quality standards of ethical practice. Nancy Parish-Plass has woven excellent contributions into a volume that provides a model of AAP practice, clear discussion of the complex issues inherent in AAP, and the unique ethical standards for the protection of both human clients and the animals involved.
-- Risë VanFleet, Ph.D., RPT-S, CDBC 
Past President of the Association for Play Therapy 
Founder and President, Playful Pooch Program and Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center

This volume supports the statement that one does not call himself or herself a therapist unless trained and licensed ... The book provides different approaches for children and adults. Value is accomplished through anecdotes which provide actual happenings for the reader along with a strong theoretical description of the applied approach. One gains a clear idea of the therapist's approach and of the participation of animals to strengthen the result. What a great book! --Sam Ross, Director of Green Chimneys Residential Treatment Center 

[This book] puts together scholarship on many perspectives of how animals fit into the therapeutic milieu. It is very readable and great clinical vignettes are used to illustrate the authors' points. --Erika Friedmann, University of Maryland 

Nancy Parish-Plass has edited a volume that will be of strong interest to those providing animal-assisted psychotherapy. The book brings together chapters from numerous authors on critical topics. As a psychologist who has integrated animals in therapy for many years, I believe that it is a valuable resource to clinicians and researchers in the field. --Aubrey H. Fine, California Polytechnic State University, Editor of Handbook on animal assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice

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