Thematic Analysis: Exploring Practitioners' Perspectives of Delivering Animal Assisted Therapy

Prof Doc Thesis

Chan, K. 2021. Thematic Analysis: Exploring Practitioners' Perspectives of Delivering Animal Assisted Therapy. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsChan, K.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that uses animals in a therapeutic capacity and can be used as an adjunct with a range of practices such as different psychotherapeutic modalities. Despite its relatively long history, more robust research is needed to increase AAT’s evidence-base. There is a relative lack of research in AAT practice from a practitioners’ perspectives. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore how practitioners use AAT in their clinical practice.
Ten participants were interviewed about their experiences of using AAT in their clinical practice. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Three main themes emerged from the analysis: The Psychotherapeutic Encounter, Multi-Faceted Relational Process, and Challenges and Opportunities in AAT.
The findings revealed that practitioners who used AAT utilised features of the therapy animal, with elements of nature and incorporated it into working in the moment. In addition, the findings revealed the relational dynamics between the client-animal, practitioner-animal, and that AAT is more than a dual therapeutic relationship. The findings also revealed the challenges and opportunities of using AAT within psychotherapy. The study has implications in the areas of better understanding and enhancing the therapeutic relationship in AAT, integrating AAT into counselling psychology practice and identifying potential areas for future research.

KeywordsAnimal Assisted therapy; counselling psychology
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online28 Sep 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted24 Jun 2021
Deposited28 Sep 2021
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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