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Influence of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on the attachment representations of youth in residential care

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  • Balluerka, Nekane
  • Muela, Alexander
  • Amiano, Nora
  • Caldentey, Miquel A.

Abstract

This study evaluates the influence of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on the attachment representations of a group of adolescents in residential care who suffered traumatic childhood experiences and exhibited mental health problems. The participants of this study were 46 teenagers (mean age=15.41, SD=1.65) divided into two groups: the intervention group of 21 youths (8 females and 13 males) (mean age=15.19, SD=1.69) and the control group of 25 (6 females and 19 males) (mean age=15.60, SD=1.63). The results of this research showed that the teenagers displayed a more secure attachment after undergoing AAT. Furthermore, in comparison with the control group, the intervention group showed higher scores in the secure attachment dimension and lower scores in the parental interference dimension, which is associated with preoccupied attachment. There were no differences in the other dimensions of attachment assessed. These results help to empirically validate AAT as an effective therapy for teenagers who have suffered childhood trauma and have mental health problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Balluerka, Nekane & Muela, Alexander & Amiano, Nora & Caldentey, Miquel A., 2014. "Influence of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on the attachment representations of youth in residential care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 103-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:42:y:2014:i:c:p:103-109
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.04.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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