Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy interventions in altering childhood aggressive behaviors

Lucinda Long, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to better understand the human-animal bond and how that unique relationship can be helpful to clinicians. Specifically, this study looked at how forming a relationship with an animal can help decrease aggressive behaviors in children and adolescents. Of the 210 participants, by gender, 57 were identified as female and 153 as male. By grade level, 66 were elementary students, 71 middle school students, and 73 high school students. Four measures were used to help measure aggression levels of the participants, including the Achenbach Child Behavioral Checklist (CBCL), Serious Incident Reports (SIR), In-School Suspension reports (ISS), and written reflections by the participants. Data analyses 2 Two Sample T-Tests, five Paired t-test, and two Two-way ANOVAs, Generalized Linear Model. Results from the study indicated that the experimental group received significantly lower scores on the externalizing portion of the CBCL when compared to the control group. When just looking at the experimental group the following variables were significantly impacted: All three grade levels significantly lowered their scores on the CBCL and fewer SIRs issued, but no grade level changed more significantly than the others. Boys appeared to respond more significantly than did girls. Although genders responded significantly to the Animal-Assisted Therapy technique, boys did have significant change in scores. The experimental group experienced a significant change in ISS assignments when compared to the control group. Finally, results indicated that Animal-Assisted therapy did appear to have a positive impact on the aggression levels of the participants.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Lucinda Long, "Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy interventions in altering childhood aggressive behaviors" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3369440.