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Research

Research allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of animal-assisted interventions and, in turn, to communicate our findings with the world. Standardization of practices among researchers and intervention facilitators, helps to establish a solid evidence base, and the use of past research ensures that our practices conform to that standard. As we look to the future of animal-assisted interventions, we must hold ourselves, our practices and our research to a high ethical standard for the well-being of all involved.

Terminology

The development of common terminology has allowed researchers and professionals in the field to communicate their practices and research more effectively. It also allows for standardization of practices across various professionals (Amerine and Hubbard, 2016). Below are the defintions of various animal interventions classified under the umbrella term "Animal-Assisted Interventions" (Fine et al., 2019).

Animal- Assisted Interventions

To promote the safety and well being of our clients, employees and animals, we must follow the ethical standards of practice outlined in the literature.

Any form of animal-assisted intervention that includes the use of psychotherapy or that is described as "therapy" must include the following attributes defined by Kruger and Serpell (2010).

1. The intervention includes a trained animal(s).

2. The intervention must be facilitated by, or under the supervision of, a mental health care professional who is working within their scope of practice.

Standards must be followed at all times to ensure that those who are facilitating animal-assisted interventions have knowledge of the principals of AAI, animal behavior and animal welfare, in order to integrate programs competently, ethically, and safely (Fine et al., 2019).

ANIMAL Welfare and Working Conditions

The Five Freedoms have been cited in the literature as the legal minimum guidelines for the welfare of farm animals to prevent unnecessary suffering. At Greystone Farms we go above and beyond the Five Freedoms to achieve a goal of providing our animals with a high quality of life. When animal welfare and ethics are held to a high standard, there is a greater potential for utilizing therapeutic transfer as an intervention modality (Fine et al., 2019). The Five Freedoms defined in the Brambell Committee report in Great Britain in 1965 are defined below.

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Freedom from hunger or thirst

By ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.

Freedom from discomfort

By providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Freedom from pain, injury, or disease

By prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Freedom to express normal behavior

by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal's own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress

by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.

Previous Findings

Previous research has noted various psychological, physiological, and social benefits of animal-assisted interventions and interacting with animals. Researchers have also examined the benefits of animal-assisted interventions for individuals with various disorders, including but not limited to, autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, alzheimer's, dementia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Several benefits of animal-assisted interventions have also been recorded for individuals' with various physical disabilities (i.e. multiple sclerosis) and learning disabilities. The benefits of animal-assisted interventions are not limited to one age group, rather the benefits have been found across all ages, ranging from young children to the elderly. Over the years, animal-assisted interventions have been valuable when incorporated into prisons, hospitals and institutions housing at-risk individuals'. Previous research illustrates the wide application and therapeutic benefits of these interventions, and a bright future for the incorporation of animals into health care.

Recommended readings

Our Research

Hooves for Health

We are currently conducting a study to examine the effectiveness of interacting with Nigerian Dwarf Goats for symptoms of anxiety and stress in undergraduate students. Our goal with this project is to create a 'goat wellness program' based on our findings.

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