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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Catherine M. Miller, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Daniel S. McKitrick, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michel Hersen, Ph.D., ABPP


This study examined the effects of petting a skunk to reduce anxiety. A single subject case design was utilized to explore an alternative method of reducing anxiety. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory was employed to screen and measure anxiety. The results of this study suggest that brief petting sessions with a descented pet skunk can reduce levels of state anxiety. Similar effects were not found for trait anxiety. These results also suggest the use of a de-scented skunk provided adequate levels ,of an anxiety-reducing effect to impact short-term and transient (state) levels of anxiety, but did not produce substantial enough effects to impact longer-term and more stable (trait) levels of anxiety. These results are indicative of the direct contact the participant had petting the skunk, and also of the skunk having a unique ability to capture the short-term attention ofthe participant. There are several implications for the use of a skunk or other animal as an adjunct to treatment, and future research may determine the most appropriate and effective use of animals in treatment of anxiety or other mental health illnesses