The application of animal-assisted therapy in the South African context : a case study

11 Oct 2013

The purpose of this article is to explore the use, value, and applicability of animal-assisted therapy in psychology. The case study method was applied to a therapeutic case, using the interpretivist paradigm. Data were analyzed by means of document analysis. The findings are discussed according to five themes derived from the study, namely, “facilitating relationship building,” “enabling communication by working indirectly,” “experiencing physical affection through the therapy dog,” “socialization skills,” and “enhanced self-esteem.” We report that the deliberate inclusion of an animal in therapy facilitates relationship building and therefore aids the therapeutic alliance, as well as enhances an individual’s socialization skills and self-esteem.