Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne M. Haskins


Animals; Bonding, Human-Pet; Occupational Therapy


The purpose of this scholarly project was to develop a reference tool for occupational therapists to implement an animal-assisted therapy (AAT) program utilizing small animals in preparatory, purposeful, and occupation-based interventions. A thorough literature review was completed using PubMed, CINAHL, EBSCO, and OT Search to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current uses for small animals in a variety of settings. Cumulative resources included books, journal articles, editorials, magazines, and electronic organizational resources. Upon completion of a review of literature, we determined animals may be a beneficial modality and serve as an alternative mode of treatment to utilize with other occupational therapy approaches. Animals have a positive effect on individuals in therapy, specifically influencing a person's physiological, psychological, cognitive, social, and sensory responses. There is limited research on AAT and use of animals in occupational therapy treatment; however a number of the resources supported the use of animals in health care settings through animal visitation programs. A reference tool was created to provide background information and guidelines for implementing an AAT program and intervention recommendations appropriate for use in a variety of occupational therapy settings.

The development of this tool was grounded by the Adult Learning Theory to address learner needs and specific intervention recommendations were created using the Model of Human Occupation as a theoretical guide. This reference tool provides occupational therapists with a basic foundation of knowledge regarding the guidelines for implementing an AAT program, as well as intervention plans and techniques that can be applied to a variety of clients. AAT provides an alternative approach to maximize clients' occupational therapy experience and independence.