ISAZ 2018

Symposium 4

Developing a Theory on Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy: Discussions Across Disciplines, Species, and Outcomes

Date: Wednesday 4th July
Time: 10:45 am - 12:05 pm
Room: Dingo Room (Dry Teaching Room 1.2)

Chair: Angela Fournier

This symposium is designed to fuel a discussion on the theoretical underpinnings of animal-assisted psychotherapy. Two individual presentations will provide information on animal-assisted psychotherapy from different perspectives (i.e., mental health professional, animal specialist), and across specific species. Presenters will discuss education and training, animal characteristics, and measures of treatment progress. We will then propose a theory on animal-assisted psychotherapy, incorporating the multiple perspectives. Data supporting the theory will be presented. We will end with questions and discussion from the audience.

This 1 hour 20 minute symposium will include several speakers, and time for general discussions. Details of the individual presentations are provided below.

Mental Health Perspective

Elizabeth Letson & Jennifer Laitala
Eagle Vista Ranch & Wellness Center, USA

This presentation will discuss animal-assisted psychotherapy from the mental health perspective, sharing information on training, animal characteristics and roles, and outcome measures.

Animal Specialist Perspective

Jennifer Laitala, BS
Eagle Vista Ranch & Wellness Center, USA


This presentation will discuss equine-assisted psychotherapy from the perspective of the equine specialist, sharing information on training and horse characteristics and roles.

Research and Theory on Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy

Dr Angela Fournier
Bemidji State University, Department of Psychology, College of Health Sciences & Human Ecology

In this presentation, a theory will be proposed, explaining the animal-assisted psychotherapy process. The theory describes animals’ roles in interventions from these perspectives. Data from empirical investigations of the theory will be discussed.