Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Frank R. Ascione


Frank R. Ascione


This study examined the changes in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and social dysfunction associated with a history of child trauma after adding animal-assisted therapy (AAT) to conventional psychotherapy for adolescents living in a residential treatment facility in northern California. Using a quasiexperimental design, participants were followed over a period of nine weeks, with both groups completing the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory, an abbreviated version of the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Youth Self-Report, and residential staff completing the Youth Outcome Questionnaire at three time points. In addition, the treatment group completed state anxiety and depression assessments before and after receiving the adjunctive AAT at each of these assessment points. Analyses suggest that the treatment group mean depression score was lower than the control group's score, but only at week 5. The significance of group differences in mean anxiety at posttest assessments could not be determined due to pretreatment group differences. Within-subjects analyses suggest that the treatment group experienced significant reductions in mean state anxiety scores after receiving the AAT at each of the three assessment points over the nine weeks. These reductions in anxiety were not, however, maintained between assessments. No significant changes in self- or other-reported social behaviors were found. Implications of these findings are discussed as well as suggestions for future research.



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