Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Rehabilitation Counseling


Upton, Thomas D.


The use of animals for therapeutic purposes has been done for centuries. It wasn’t until the 20th century when people began to realize the potential the human-animal interaction had on our overall health. Professionals and organizations began to implement animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and activities, and research began to see the benefits that it could produce. Animal-assisted therapy has shown to provide various populations of individuals with physiological and psychological benefits, including a decrease in anxiety and depression, better cardiovascular functioning, and an increase in socialization skills and functioning. AAT has the potential to provide the field of rehabilitation with an alterative, complementary therapy to improve recovery, motivation, and treatment goals for consumers. Future research needs to be done to determine long-term effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy and how it can benefit more specific populations within the rehabilitation field.