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A standard of practice and ethical guideline for psychologists using animals in outpatient psychotherapy: A synthesis and extension of the literature

18 April 2003


A growing body of literature suggests that human-animal interactions may be physiologically and psychologically beneficial for people. The use of animals in service of the disabled or in various types of therapy is gaining popularity. This paper focuses on the use of animals in psychotherapy, referred to as Pet Facilitated Psychotherapy (PFP). Due to the lack of research, established theory, and accepted guidelines for PFP, psychologists who wish to utilize pets in psychotherapy are left with the task of figuring out how to provide safe, competent, and ethical services. The purpose of this paper is to synthesize and extend literature from various sources into a standard of practice and ethical guidelines for psychologists using or contemplating the use of PFP in an outpatient setting.


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