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About this Research Topic

Manuscript Submission Deadline 13 October 2022
Manuscript Extension Submission Deadline 28 February 2023

The interest in animal-assisted interventions and equine assisted interactions is growing exponentially. They are considered an alternative and complimentary treatment modality and can be divided into three main categories: animal assisted activities/ adaptive horsemanship (involving hospital or school visits), animal assisted education/ equine facilitated learning (involving personal growth plans) and animal assisted therapy/ equine assisted psychotherapy (involving psychotherapy). There are plenty of publications available on the health benefits of animals in humans' lives. At the same time, reported data reinforce the need for improved research in this field to provide more rigorous evidence-based science to inform practice; the need to studying not only the impact of these interactions, but also the biological mechanisms that are changing in both humans and the animals; and the importance of preserving the welfare of the therapy animals.

Currently, the research on therapeutic animal welfare is very limited. Understanding better the behaviour and physiological changes in both humans and the therapeutic animals throughout the therapy sessions can gain us insight on how animal-assisted interventions influence the animals. These findings can help us to improve and preserve the welfare of therapeutic animals, provide an input on the selection and training of therapeutic animals, and optimize therapy programs. This way human clients could take the greatest advantage from animals as co-therapist. The goal of this research topic is to collect theoretical, fundamental, and applied research on the welfare related questions of all kinds of animals used in animal-assisted interventions, including dogs, horses, donkeys, cows, guinea pigs, dolphins etc.

Studies could focus on (non-exhaustively): preserving and improving the welfare of therapeutic animals; evaluating behavioural, functional or hormonal markers of welfare of therapeutic animals (during therapy sessions or in general); biological mechanisms that are changing in both humans and the therapeutic animal throughout the therapy sessions; emotional transfer in animal-assisted intervention; personality traits of the therapeutic animals and their ability to maintain mental and physical homeostasis during therapy sessions; recognising, treating and preventing burnout in therapeutic animals; implication on training therapeutic animal.

Keywords: animal-assisted interventions, equine assisted interactions, heart rate variability, personality traits, therapy dogs, horses, animal training, therapeutic animal welfare, emotional transfer


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The interest in animal-assisted interventions and equine assisted interactions is growing exponentially. They are considered an alternative and complimentary treatment modality and can be divided into three main categories: animal assisted activities/ adaptive horsemanship (involving hospital or school visits), animal assisted education/ equine facilitated learning (involving personal growth plans) and animal assisted therapy/ equine assisted psychotherapy (involving psychotherapy). There are plenty of publications available on the health benefits of animals in humans' lives. At the same time, reported data reinforce the need for improved research in this field to provide more rigorous evidence-based science to inform practice; the need to studying not only the impact of these interactions, but also the biological mechanisms that are changing in both humans and the animals; and the importance of preserving the welfare of the therapy animals.

Currently, the research on therapeutic animal welfare is very limited. Understanding better the behaviour and physiological changes in both humans and the therapeutic animals throughout the therapy sessions can gain us insight on how animal-assisted interventions influence the animals. These findings can help us to improve and preserve the welfare of therapeutic animals, provide an input on the selection and training of therapeutic animals, and optimize therapy programs. This way human clients could take the greatest advantage from animals as co-therapist. The goal of this research topic is to collect theoretical, fundamental, and applied research on the welfare related questions of all kinds of animals used in animal-assisted interventions, including dogs, horses, donkeys, cows, guinea pigs, dolphins etc.

Studies could focus on (non-exhaustively): preserving and improving the welfare of therapeutic animals; evaluating behavioural, functional or hormonal markers of welfare of therapeutic animals (during therapy sessions or in general); biological mechanisms that are changing in both humans and the therapeutic animal throughout the therapy sessions; emotional transfer in animal-assisted intervention; personality traits of the therapeutic animals and their ability to maintain mental and physical homeostasis during therapy sessions; recognising, treating and preventing burnout in therapeutic animals; implication on training therapeutic animal.

Keywords: animal-assisted interventions, equine assisted interactions, heart rate variability, personality traits, therapy dogs, horses, animal training, therapeutic animal welfare, emotional transfer


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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