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Treatment of childhood animal cruelty behaviors in outpatient mental health

13 December 2002


Information regarding cruelty to animal behaviors is emerging in greater numbers in recent years. However, little research has been conducted regarding specific assessments and interventions used with children who are cruel to animals. The current scope of literature tends to emphasize differing viewpoints on theory, with miniscule attention being paid to methods used to treat this population. No empirically validated treatment protocols have been researched and even fewer efficacious studies exist in the limited number of existing interventions being utilized by outpatient mental health professionals. The purpose of this study was to determine if children with animal cruelty behaviors were being seen in outpatient settings by mental health professionals, and to determine which interventions methods were being used with children exhibiting animal cruelty behaviors. A questionnaire was sent to mental health providers in the Portland Metropolitan area in order to gather information about children exhibiting cruelty to animals being seen in outpatient treatment facilities. It was found that children exhibiting cruelty to animal behaviors are being seen by outpatient mental health providers. Additionally, a variety of intervention techniques were reported. Parent Training, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Empathy Training, and Play· Therapy were the most frequently reported interventions.


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