Social work practitioners and the human-companion animal bond: A national study

Christina Risley-Curtiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Extensive research documents powerful relationships between humans and companion animals, and 62 percent of U.S. households report having a companion animal. Social workers are likely to work with individuals and families with companion animals; thus, the inclusion of such animals in both practice and research as a natural extension of social work with humans, and their challenges, coping mechanisms, and resiliency factors, seems called for. Yet there is little in the social work literature that identifies what social workers are doing in this area. Thus, this descriptive study sought to explore nationally what social work practitioners know and are doing in the area of the human and companion animal relationships. Findings include that social work practitioners appear to have basic knowledge of the negative and positive relationships between humans and companion animals. About one-third are including questions about companion and other animals in their intake assessments, and a little less than 25 percent are including companion and other animals in their intervention practice. The vast majority have had no special training or coursework to do so. Implications for these and other findings are discussed, and recommendations for social work research, education, and practice are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalSocial work
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Companion animals
  • Human-animal bond
  • Pet therapy
  • Social work practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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