Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Just Imagine that Sophie Is A Duck.

Animal Therapy Reduces Anxiety, Loneliness Symptoms in College Students

from the Georgia State U News

Animal-assisted therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety and loneliness among college students, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Idaho State University and Savannah College of Art and Design. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.

The researchers provided animal-assisted therapy to 55 students in a group setting at a small arts college in the Southeast. They found a 60 percent decrease in self-reported anxiety and loneliness symptoms following animal-assisted therapy, in which a registered therapy dog was under the supervision of a licensed mental health practitioner.

Eighty-four percent of the participants reported their interaction with the therapy dog, Sophie, was the most significant part of the program



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Is this the same therapy that got some St. Louis students bitten by bears last year?

  3. I shit you not: my school brings in tamed ducks (for an hour), talking parrots (for another hour), puppies (for an hour), and two seasoned therapy dogs (for an hour) during the week before final exams. They all belong to members of the community who want to share their animals with the college students.

  4. Disclaimer: I love animals and am an advocate for therapy dogs in particular for disabled veterans. Therapy animals aren't just "everyone bring in their pets!" Here is a quote from the article:

    "College counseling centers are also becoming more and more reflective of community mental health agencies,” Dispenza said. “That’s something that’s been noted in the field in probably the last 10 to 15 years. College counseling centers aren’t seeing students struggling with academics, which major to pick or how to study. They’re coming in with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, pervasive mood disorders and considerable contextual strains that are happening out in the world, such as poverty and experiences of homelessness, as well as a history of medical issues and family health issues."

    I know that college students aren't just a bunch of comfortably middle class kids with the luxury of attending school rather than working (half my high school graduating class went directly to work, not college). But if they are coming in with these severe problems, and therapy dogs help, then it's a good idea. Or at least, a better idea than not doing anything about all the PTSD and anxiety and poverty and homelessness and medical problems and all the rest that are apparently causing severe anxiety to the students.

    1. and if it can help reduce the need for (prescription) drugs around high pressure points like exams, then why not? Pets as therapy is a great programme - how many nerdy kids who grew up into academics had pets who listened to all our worries, were loving company when we felt like no-one would ever understand us, etc.?

      Being around animals or in open, outdoors green spaces makes most humans feel calmer and happier, so why not...