The Human Animal Bond Interest Group was created to examine, delineate, and elaborate the many facets of the human-animal bond. Examples include how the human animal bond influences the development of empathy and nurturance, the ability to form and express attachments, reaction to grief and loss, the challenges of aging, and other developmental passages throughout the lifespan. Also of interest will be the effect of pets and other animals on children’s cognitive, social, physical, and emotional development, including issues related to concern for animal welfare.Additionally, this interest group also includes the topic of Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI), which is commonly used as an umbrella term for a number of different types of activities in which interaction with animals is a therapeutic modality. One type of AAI that is particularly useful in counseling psychology is Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), which consists of specific, planned therapy interventions delivered by professionals and their animals (or in conjunction with volunteers and their pets.) Animal-Assisted Interventions are broader based, do not necessarily involve a trained professional (although the animal must be certified) and can include, for example, the use of trained pet therapists to visit nursing home residents or using pet therapists in group settings (libraries, classrooms) to reduce children’s anxiety about learning to read.
Animal Assisted Interventions involve research, programs, and practice that occur in institutional settings (e.g., nursing homes, hospitals, schools, prisons) and community-based programs (schools, community centers, as well as the clinical and therapeutic contexts of consulting rooms.