Animal-assisted interventions are becoming increasingly requested by parents for the treatment of childhood psychiatric disorders. Many clinicians remain uncertain about when it is appropriate to include animals in the treatment of children and adolescents. This review examines the current evidence for the inclusion of animals in the treatment for childhood psychiatric disorders. Animals included in the treatment of childhood psychiatric disorders include dogs, guinea pigs, horses, and other assorted farm animals. Potential benefits of incorporating each animal in treating various childhood psychiatric disorders are explored. The evidence supports clinicians considering the inclusion of animal-based interventions when treating children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder, trauma- related symptoms, and attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The use of animals in the treatment of other childhood psychiatric disorders may exceed the evidence base, so additional research is required to support further treatment recommendations of animal-assisted interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health