Combining Art Therapy and Animal Assisted Therapy for the Geriatric Client

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Howsley, Kimberly
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This study examines if including a therapy dog as an adjunct to art therapy in the initial art therapy treatment session will assist the geriatric client in becoming actively present, engaged, less resistant, and gain focus, thereby increasing the efficacy of the art therapy treatment. A review of the current professional literature shows that scant research exists directly related to this area, though the benefits of art therapy and the benefits of animal assisted therapy for clients have been documented. Using “Draw a Tree” as an intervention, it was noted that the presence of the therapy animal led to more rapid focus and engagement with the subjects. Art therapy was seen to be an enjoyable activity creating active presence with or without the therapy animal. Finally, the therapy animal was also an effective aid to the investigator, in helping her maintain focus and establish engagement.