Animal Angels Foundation has conducted various research projects in India in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy.
AAT as a mode of Intervention for the Mentally Challenged
Research Paper on Animal Assisted Therapy
The paper titled ‘Animal Assisted Therapy as a mode of intervention for the mentally challenged’ was presented by Mrs. Minal Kavishwar at the BPA-IPH Conference on Child and Adolescent Mental Health – 2007. It was probably the first documented research study to be presented at a conference in India on the subject of Animal Assisted Therapy and its application in the field of human psychology. The paper will soon be published in the Bombay Psychological Association’s journal.
The therapy so planned was meant to study the effect of Animal Assisted Therapy on the behavior problems and motor skills of the mentally retarded children. A group of 8 children was formed and divided into two groups, experimental and control group. The experimental group was given therapy in three quarters. All the children were pre-tested before starting the therapy, and were tested again after the therapy. The pre-test , post-test as well as the EG – CG results were compared. The research study was conducted at Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Jidd Special School, Thane, with the support and co operation of the principal MRs. Shyamashree Bhosle and the guidance of DR. Mrs. Shubha Thatte.
“When I started learning Animal Therapy, I was looking for material for reference in this field. Being a student of Clinical Psychology, I was looking for authentic data that I could use as a reference and probably some material that could guide me on this subject. I was surprised to find that no work was done here in India on the subject of Animal Assisted Therapy. So I planned a research study and decided to document the results. It is probably the first documented research study on Animal therapy in India” says Mrs. Kavishwar.
The results show a considerable drop in the behavior problems in the children and also an improvement in their motor skills. The study also shows a change in the school environment. It showed that the children were happier than they were before the dog arrived in the school.
AAT and Autism” – Symposium Presentation – International Conference on Psychology 07, NIMHANS, Bangalore
The paper titled ” AAT and Autism” was presented at the International Conference on Psychology – 2007, held at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science (NIMHANS) Bangalore.
The paper presented was based on the research study conducted my Mrs. Kavishwar at Prasanna Autism Center, Pune. The study was conducted to see the effect of an in house therapy dog on the emotional expression and responsiveness of the autistic children. Therapy dog Sophie, a one year Labrador was trained for the center since she was 4 months old. Animal Assisted Therapy was provided to the experimental group along with other therapies provided at the center like drum circle therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy. The control group only underwent the other school activities and therapies. The study showed that the children who underwent animal therapy were more expressive, the opened up more than the children in the control group. It was also seen that they were able to relate more to the dog and to the therapist compared to other children.
Animal Assisted therapy has proved to be a wonderful option as an intervention for children with autism. The animal here is not only a companion, but also an entire tool for the child to learn to express, relate and understand touch, textures, shapes etc. A child who is unable to connect to or relate to humans around him can relate to an animal and respond to it. In an inspiring story of Rahul, a non responsive autistic child and therapy dog Sophie at Prasanna Autism Center, the most prominent thing that can be seen is the way he is fascinated with Sophie and secondly the way he relates to her. He has made amazing progress in areas of verbal expression, attention span, repetitive behavior, focus of attention etc.
” We have seen tremendous change in the children due to Sohipe’s mere presence. She is a big help in claming down agitated and crying children. We have also seen a big improvement in their eye cont act and expression levels. For many children ‘SOPHIE’ is the first word they have spoken.” – Mrs. Padmaja Godbole, Director, Prasanna Autism Center.
Application of AAT in counseling – Case studies
“Application of Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling – Case Studies” was a term paper written by Ms. Manali Ranadive in 2006, then a student of TYBA Psychology at Swami Vivekanada college of Arts, Chembur. This paper was submitted and accepted as a student’s paper for the the Bombay Psychological Association Journal.
The study was done to see the application and effect of this therapy in various avenues of counseling. Five of Mrs. Kavishwar’s case studies were studied to see the process of this therapy. From these cases it is very evident that Animal Assisted Therapy is very effective in providing the required help to the person and in improving his mental health and the overall quality of life.
Manali Ranadive, who is currently doing her masters in Clinical Psychology from SNDT University, Mumbai, is now a volunteer with Animal Angels Foundation and is also doing a course on AAT with Animal Angels.
Animal Therapy and expression in Autistic Children
” Animal Therapy and expression in Autistic Children” was a research study conducted by Vishakha Rao in 2006, then a student of SNDT University, Pune for her final year project for MA in Clinical Psychology. The purpose of the study was to see the effect of the presence of a therapy animal on the expressiveness in an autistic child. The study was conducted by observation method at Prasanna Autism Center, under Mrs. Kavishwar who was conducting the research.
The study shows a marked improvement in the areas of social interaction, eye cont act, non-verbal expressions and facial expressions in the children who interacted with the therapy dog. This was also supported by the results from a questionnaire which was given to the teachers of the center. According to one of the teacher, with a child who was overall very withdrawn and quiet, the therapy animal would help bring him out of his shell and gradually speak up. This would happen usually with verbal expressions like exclaiming enthusiastically or learning to use words in the presence of the therapy animal.