Effects of a Trained Therapy Dog in Child-Centered Play Therapy on Children's Biobehavioral Measures of Anxiety

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This study was concerned with reducing children's anticipatory anxiety when entering mental health services for the first time. The purpose of this study was to determine whether combining two effective modalities, play therapy and animal-assisted therapy, would be effective in decreasing children's biobehavioral measurements of anxiety. Specifically, this study examined the effects of the presence of a trained therapy dog during one individual 30-minute play therapy session. The experimental group consisted of 26 children who received one individual 30-minute play therapy session with the presence of a trained therapy dog. The comparison group consisted of 25 children who received one ... continued below

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Athy, Annette L. May 2005.

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  • Athy, Annette L.

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This study was concerned with reducing children's anticipatory anxiety when entering mental health services for the first time. The purpose of this study was to determine whether combining two effective modalities, play therapy and animal-assisted therapy, would be effective in decreasing children's biobehavioral measurements of anxiety. Specifically, this study examined the effects of the presence of a trained therapy dog during one individual 30-minute play therapy session. The experimental group consisted of 26 children who received one individual 30-minute play therapy session with the presence of a trained therapy dog. The comparison group consisted of 25 children who received one individual 30-minute play therapy session without the presence of a trained therapy dog. The SenseWear® PRO 2 armband monitor measured children's biobehavioral measurements such as galvanic skin response, temperature, and activity level (BodyMedia, Inc., Pittsburgh , PA , www.bodymedia.com). The Tanita 6102 Cardio® digital heart rate monitor measured children's pre-treatment and post-treatment heart rates (Tanita Corporation of America, Inc., Arlington Heights , IL , www.tanita.com). Five hypotheses were tested using repeated measures ANOVA with mixed factors and eta squared. All five hypotheses in this study were retained based on statistical significance at the .05 level. The combination of child-centered play therapy (CCPT) and animal-assisted therapy was shown to have little practical significance in decreasing children's first 5-minute biobehavioral measurements, middle 5-minute biobehavioral measurements, last 5-minute biobehavioral measurements as measured by the SenseWear Pro 2 armband monitor. The combination of CCPT and animal-assisted therapy was shown to have little practical significance in decreasing children's pre-treatment and post-treatment heart rate. The results of the two factor repeated measures analysis of variance with mixed factors were not statistically significant. Although, research has shown that play therapy is an effective modality in reducing children's anxiety over time, children's anticipatory anxiety was increased in the first 30-minutes of play therapy with or without the presence of a trained therapy dog. Anticipatory anxiety may have been due to the children experiencing a novel and unfamiliar situation, entering the play therapy room with a stranger, the non-structured environment of the play therapy room, or a first interaction with the armband monitor.

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  • May 2005

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  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:07 p.m.

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  • June 24, 2008, 2:25 p.m.

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Athy, Annette L. Effects of a Trained Therapy Dog in Child-Centered Play Therapy on Children's Biobehavioral Measures of Anxiety, dissertation, May 2005; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4793/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .