Treating Human Trauma with the Help of Animals: Trauma Informed Intervention for Child Maltreatment and Adult Post-Traumatic Stress

When a traumatic life event shakes the foundation of an individual’s willingness or ability to have a human relationship, the traditional “trusting” relationship that underpins any therapeutic intervention may no longer be functional as an intervention. Acutely traumatic experiences can disrupt the long-term development of an individual, interfering with normal patterns of interpersonal behavior that shape normal social and emotional function. This chapter explores two distinct applications of animal-assisted, trauma-focused intervention that differ with respect to the target population and the models through which therapeutic approaches are delivered. However, these models share a common understanding regarding the significance of animals in providing emotional security, psychophysiological and affect regulation, neurological recalibration, and other behavioral responses of humans to our social environment.

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