Animal-Assisted Therapy
by Donald Altschiller
January 2011, 179pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35720-6
$45, £35, 40€, A62
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35721-3
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Although the term “pet therapy” was first used in the 1960s, the use of animals in a therapeutic role dates to 1792 when the British Society of Friends used rabbits and other animals to help residents in a mental asylum cope with social and emotional isolation. Today, animal-assisted therapy involves a wide variety of animals, including dogs, cats, monkeys, horses, dolphins, aquarium fish, hamsters, and gerbils.

This comprehensive overview of the many types of animal-assisted therapy provides the perfect reference for students, general readers, pet owners, animal care specialists, psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, and mental health professionals.

The use of animals for therapy is a burgeoning form of treatment for individuals with physical, emotional, or psychological illnesses. Written for students and general readers, Animal-Assisted Therapy offers a historical overview of the practice, detailing its growth and the many ways it is practiced today.

Filled with illustrative examples, such as successful programs where children with reading problems read aloud to canine companions, the book illuminates the expansive nature and effectiveness of this therapy as it is practiced both generally and among special populations, including children, the elderly, autistic individuals, and the incarcerated. The book also provides specific information that will be of interest to pet owners who want to get involved in these programs and includes information on U.S. government requirements allowing guide dogs in public and private facilities.


  • A list of government regulations about the rights of service dogs in public accommodations
  • A glossary of major terms, such as animal-assisted therapy, animal-assisted activities, equine therapy, and many others
  • The most comprehensive annotated bibliography yet developed on the subject, including books, journal articles, videos, and websites
Donald Altschiller is a librarian at Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University, Boston, MA. He has written several reference books, including ABC-CLIO's Hate Crimes: A Reference Handbook. He has also contributed articles to many encyclopedias, is a long-time reviewer for Library Journal and Choice, and has served on the editorial board of Reference Books Bulletin.


"This entry in the Health and Medical Issues Today series covers a topic of growing interest: the use of animals as part of the treatment for individuals with physical, emotional, or psychological illnesses. . . . Recommended for undergraduate libraries and any library where there is an interest in the topic."—Booklist, May 15, 2011

"Overall it offers a good overview of the background issues associated with and populations involved with AAT. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Recommended."—Choice, August 1, 2011

"Well-sourced and researched, this title is an excellent reference for anyone new to or curious about the topic."—Library Journal, March 2, 2012

Health and Medical Issues Today

From the latest developments in treatment to updates on public health threats, information about health and medicine impacts lives more directly than almost any other subject. Despite a wealth of coverage online and in print media, there is still an overwhelming need for a single source to which a reader can turn for accurate, current information on an issue of concern.

The series Health and Medical Issues Today provides just such one-stop resources for those seeking solid overviews of the most controversial and persisting issues in health and psychology. Each volume offers a balanced, in-depth introduction to the medical, scientific, legal, and cultural aspects of subjects ranging from obesity to sports medicine, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and tobacco use.
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