Animal-assisted therapy in counseling (AAT-C) provides several key enhancements to counseling practice, including the promotion of emotional regulation and social skills. Various approaches exist for integrating counseling theories with AAT-C; however, the inclusion of therapy animals in positive psychology practice has yet to be explored in the counseling literature. In this article, we propose an integrated counseling treatment approach that blends AAT-C with the PERMA (positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment) theory of well-being. We review key concepts of PERMA and AAT-C, as well as delineate the beneficial mental health effects of human–animal interactions through the theoretical underpinnings of positive psychology. We then link animal involvement in AAT-C to specific intervention strategies and the understood mechanisms of change described in the PERMA model, followed by the description of a brief hypothetical counseling case example. We conclude with ethical considerations and implications for clinical mental health counseling practice and research.
Positive Psychology and Therapy Animals: A Conceptual Integration for Counseling Practice
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Katy Schroeder, Priscilla Rose Prasath; Positive Psychology and Therapy Animals: A Conceptual Integration for Counseling Practice. Journal of Mental Health Counseling 1 October 2022; 44 (4): 312–326. doi: https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.44.4.03
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