APA Article Review- Positive Psychology and Therapy Animals: A Conceptual Integration for Counseling
Updated: Jan 13
Author: Julia Y
I chose the scholarly article Positive Psychology and Therapy Animals: A Conceptual Integration for Counseling Practice, published in October of 2022. (Schroeder et al, 2022). This article’s topic is mainly on emotional stresses and how animal therapy can help, its population being the general public as emotional issues can happen to anyone. It is both a summary of research and an informational article, as it includes information about the PERMA model of well-being, the AEA process, the procedures of AAT, or animal-assisted therapy, as well as results of the procedures.
In this article, the experiments that are analyzed are those of the results of human-animal interaction. Comfort animals are very widespread globally, as many find that these animals help them take their minds off of negative stressors. The PERMA model of well-being, created by Martin Seligman, contains five major tenets of human well-being, those being accomplishment, meaning, relationships, engagement, and positive emotion. The more of these tenets an individual possesses, the better. (Schroeder et al, 2022) In addition, the article also uses the AEA (aware-explore-apply) process by Ryan Niemiec to analyze clients’ well-being. In the AEA process, a strength assessment is first taken (aware), followed by the clients’ connection of their strengths to their past (explore), in turn followed by the client reflecting and using their strengths to better their lives (apply). (Schroeder et al, 2022)
Using the PERMA model, researchers in a past experiment analyzed how effective animal-assisted therapy is. In this experiment, it is shown that inter-species play can allow for more positive emotion. This play allows for a term called “positive resonance”, an interpersonal bond that can be formed by a myriad of ways- for example, shared concern or behavior. (Schroeder et al, 2022) The more engagement the client has, the more successful the treatment is, as it allows for the client involved to take their mind off of stressors, fully absorbed in their interactions with animals. (Schroeder et al, 2022)
In a second study, researchers used the AEA process to do a case conceptualization on a 19 year old client, who was at the time a college freshman and was known to enjoy the company of animals. The client had had a drop in their grades, as well as a change of mind in regards to attending college. This was caused by depression and anxiety caused by their separation from their close friends in high school. As treatment, the client’s counselor decided for the client to interact with horses through different activities. In the aware stage, the client observed two horses interact with each other, in which the client took interest in. Then, in the explore stage, the client interacted with one of the horses personally, in which they reflected that it felt like interacting with one of their classmates as she felt nervous to approach the horse. Lastly, in the apply stage, the client practiced their strengths with the horse, and utilized what they learned in their college life by, for example, joining clubs of interest to them. (Schroeder et al, 2022)
This article, in my opinion, is rather important. It shows that the use of animal interaction in therapy is indeed very beneficial, and not just because of the interaction, but also because it is able to teach one their strengths and how to use those strengths in social situations. I believe that this study is both important to students of psychology and the general public as it has the potential to aid many that have fallen into, for example, depression. I personally think that this article was written very well and would love to delve deeper into the topic as it is not only interesting, but potentially life saving.