The therapeutic benefits of the human-animal bond

Nov 30, 2009

A pet owner knows the enormous joy and comfort that an animal can provide, especially in troubled times. Most pets are considered important members of the family and irreplaceable companions. A growing body of research now documents the value of the human-animal bond in child development, elderly care, mental illness, physical impairment, dementia, abuse and trauma recovery, and the rehabilitation of incarcerated youth and adults.

In two articles in a recent issue of Family Process, titled "Human-Animal Bonds I," (focused on the benefits of companion animals) and "Human-Animal Bonds II," (focused on their role in couple and family dynamics and family therapy), Dr. Froma Walsh reviews and distills the essence of this cutting-edge research. She examines how a bond with a pet can strengthen human resilience through times of crisis, persistent adversity, and disruptive transitions, such as relocation, divorce, widowhood, and adoption.

The well-being and healing that a pet can provide include a range of relational benefits, from and playfulness, to loyal companionship, affection, comfort, security, and unconditional love. Pets also can be drawn into couple and conflict. Women often do not leave abusive partners because of threats of abuse to a beloved pet.

Dr. Walsh says, "The powerful meaning and significance of companion animals is underestimated." Mental health professionals rarely consider these bonds in clinical assessment and intervention, with focus limited to human relationships. Profound attachments with pets—and grief in their loss—are often marginalized, seen as abnormal, or altogether ignored in theory, training, and practice, These two articles provide an essential overview to inform clinical scholars and practitioners of the potential benefits in facilitating positive growth for individuals, couples, and families when companion animals are included as members of the healing team—and even co-therapists.

More information: To view the abstract for this article, please visit www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123189842/abstract

Source: Wiley (news : web)

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pets bring health, happiness and healing

May 27, 2009

Doctors may soon be prescribing their patients a script to adopt a cat or dog, given a recent study found an estimated $3.86 billion was saved on health spending in Australia, due to the benefits of pet ownership.

Researcher reveals the truth about cats and dogs

Mar 02, 2007

Ask most pet owners, and they will tell you they love their pets. So why is it that every year in Australia around 400,000 cats and dogs are surrendered to animal shelters or pounds?

A pet in your life keeps the doctor away

Sep 28, 2009

Lowers blood pressure, encourages exercise, improves psychological health— these may sound like the effects of a miracle drug, but they are actually among the benefits of owning a four-legged, furry pet. This fall, the ...

College students find comfort in their pets during hard times

Dec 23, 2008

A new study suggests that college students may handle stressful situations better if they have a pet. Research has already shown that pets can improve the quality of life for people who are aging or those who are chronically ...

Keeping canines healthy -- canine teeth, that is

Dec 19, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- "Dental disease is a serious problem in pets," said Dr. Brenda Mulherin, community practice veterinarian at the Dr. W. Eugene and Linda Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center. "Signs of dental abnormalities ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

4 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...