Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy


There is an increase in clinical trends of using animal companions in aiding therapeutical activities. Numerous articles discuss the applicability and effectiveness of using animal companions during therapy. However, most of these articles do not give a systematic review of experimental evidence regarding the role of companion articles and their influence on psychotherapy. In this article ‘How dogs influence the evaluation of Psychotherapists’ by Margaret Schneider and Lorah Harley, they investigate how the presence of companion animals, specifically dogs, can affect a client’s willingness to open up during psychotherapy sessions. While the article gives conclusive evidence on the positive effects of animal companions on psychotherapy evaluation, this essay examines its research process and methodology to evaluate the credibility of the information.

Theory and Stance

This article uses previous research theories in formulating the research topic. According to the authors, previous research shows that pets positively affect human beings, such as reducing anxiety, emotional and psychological stress, improving communication, and influencing individual perceptions. Among the sources supporting the research is (Friedmann et al. 1980) research article, which states that pets are beneficial to individuals with chronic illnesses by improving the patient’s recovery and survival rates.

Moreover, Friedman explains that a coronary survivor demonstrated higher survival and recovery after discharge due to having an animal companion. Anderson et al. (1992) also affirm that pets help regulate physiological problems such as high blood pressure in human beings. Companion animals increase individuals’ social interactions and relationships according to (Lockwood 1983; Hunt et al., 1992; and Kidd & Kidd 1994). McNicholas & Collis (2000) and Jourard (1971) argue that animal companions help create relationships; hence, individuals who own and walk with pets have higher chances of interacting with strangers. Individuals who own pets live happier and more fulfilling lives. Robb et al., 1980; and Beck & Katcher (2003) conclude that pet ownership portrays wealth, happiness, and friendliness in society. The literature reviewed in this article is relevant, although most of the information is from outdated sources.


The purpose of the research was to investigate the influence of dogs in psychotherapy sessions experimentally. The researchers’ aim includes analyzing whether the presence of dogs improves therapeutic sessions in terms of providing a friendly environment, easing anxiety, and improving a client’s ability to disclose more personal information. By investigating the various ways in which a dog affects a patient’s comfortability or uneasiness, the researcher can understand why psychotherapists use animal companions during therapy sessions. A research purpose must be relevant to the research topic to obtain credibility and valuable information to the researchers and future researchers who may want to get information on the same or related issues.

Methodology and Research Design

The article uses the Experimental Quantitative research method, which is the best approach in investigating scientific topics. Videotapes were used to assess the participant’s reaction through watching prerecorded videos of a psychotherapist’s introduction. The researchers used questionnaires to collect data on the participant’s responses. This research method is reliable, affordable, and easily accessible to all participants. Although videotapes allow participants to have a clear picture of the situation, having an actual therapist and live dog could gauge a better reaction.

The article gives three clear hypotheses of the research. The first hypothesis assumes that psychiatrists with dogs will have a higher score than those without dogs regarding attractiveness, expertise, and trustworthiness by measuring variables using the Counsellor Rating Form-short version (CRF-S). The second hypothesis states that participants will be more willing to disclose information to therapists with dogs, measured by the Disclosure to Therapist Inventory -iii (DTI-III). Finally, the third hypothesis states that a participant’s history of owning or living with a pet will contribute to their comfortability with a psychiatrist having an animal companion by measuring variables using the Pet Attitude Scale (PAS). All three hypotheses guide the research because they provide a clear direction of the study and what to expect from the results.


The research identifies potential limitations which could determine the results, such as the difference in dog breeds which can alter a participant’s attitude depending on the type of dog they may prefer. The researchers do not state the target population. Participant selection included Eighty-five students from Toronto university between 18-52 years. The researchers selected participants through public announcements and later chose successful applicants by considering age and gender balance. Public announcements ensure equal participation and fewer biases.

Data Collection

The study used questionnaires for data collection. Questionnaires are among the best data collection tools in quantitative research. Through watching the videotapes showing different psychiatric scenarios, participants can form different attitudes and perceptions regarding the most comfortable psychiatric scenario. In videotaping the psychiatrists for research, the researchers maintained the specific office backgrounds for each psychiatrist, ensuring a natural setting. The psychiatrists’ introductions were also non-script, which eliminates experimental control.

In the article, the authors give a clear and detailed description of the research instruments used.

Additionally, the authors explain the procedural steps of obtaining information using the research tools, demonstrating the study’s experimental relevance. An example is the Counsellor Rating Form-short version (CRFS-S), which measures a therapist’s trustworthiness, expertise, attractiveness, and credibility (Farber & Hall, 2002). Other instruments include Disclosure to Therapist inventory-III(DTI-III), which measures client disclosure willingness (Templer et al., 1981), and Pet Attitude Scale (PAS), which measures the level of pet favorability during therapy (Atkinson & Carskasddon 1975). All the above instruments are credible and reliable for measuring particular variables of interest directly. The authors explain that Farber and Hall (2002) acknowledge that DTI-III (Disclosure to Therapist Inventory) is the best inventory system to assess a client’s satisfaction with a particular treatment. Therefore, it is efficient in measuring general and sensitive topics to obtain in-depth information. Although all instruments show credibility (Tracey et al., 1998; and Wilson & Yager, 1990) question the variables subscale dependability to each other because of result contradictions. It is important to improve the measuring capacity of instruments to obtain the same results after multiple uses.

Results and Analysis

The researchers clearly describe the process of analyzing data, including an l-tailed test on variables and post hoc analysis to obtain more conclusive results from the null hypotheses. Also, the research used ANOVA analysis on group participation since answering as a group may give different opinions that may be irrelevant. Data presentation involved numerical data with clear explanations of the meaning of each figure. The article describes all results clearly where all the hypotheses are covered and answered comprehensively, showing that most participants prefer psychiatrists with pets. Since the assumptions direct the research topic, the article results are accurate, credible, reliable, and relevant to the research topic.


Recognizing the positive effects of pets in therapy sessions is a significant step in clinical psychology healthcare. This study aimed to determine whether animal companions improve the relationship between therapists and clients to promote a willingness for personal disclosure. The article has investigated the research topic thoroughly through a meticulous and detailed research process and obtained conclusive results. Although the sources of information are primarily outdated, the facts are accurate, reliable, and credible for future studies.


Anderson, W. P., Reid, C. M. and Jennings, G. L. (1992). Pet ownership and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Medical Journal of Australia 157: 298–301. Web.

Atkinson, D. R. and Carskasddon, G. 1975. A prestigious introduction, psychological jargon, and perceived counselor credibility. Journal of Counseling Psychology 223: 180–186. Web.

Beck, A. M., and Katcher. A. H. (2003). Future directions in human-animal bond research. American Behavioral Scientist 4(1): 79–93. Web.

Farber, B. A. and Hall, D. (2002). Disclosure to therapists: What is and is not discussed in psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology 58(4): 359–370. Web.

Friedmann, E., Katcher, A. H., Lynch, J. J. and Thomas, S. A. (1980). Animal companions and one-year survival of patients after discharge from a coronary care unit. Public Health Reports 95: 307–312. Web.

Jourard, S. M. 1971.: Self-disclosure an experimental analysis of the transparent self. New York: Wiley.

Kidd, A. H., and Kidd, R. M. (1994). Benefits and liabilities of pets for the homeless. Psychological Reports 74: 715–722. Web.

Lockwood, R. (1983). The influence of animals on social perception. In new perspectives on our lives with companion animals, 64–71, ed. A. H. Katcher and A. M. Beck. University of Pennsylvania Press.

McNicholas, J. and Collis, G. M. (2000). Dogs as catalysts for social interaction: Robustness of the effect. British Journal of Psychology 91(1): 61–70. Web.

Robb, S., Boyd, M., & Pristash, C. (1980). A wine bottle, plant, and puppy: Catalysts for social behavior. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 6(12), 721-728. Web.

Tracey, T. L., Glidden, C. E. and Kokotovic, A. M. (1988). Factor structure of the counselor rating form – Short version. Journal of Counseling Psychology 35(3): 330–335. Web.

Wilson, F. R., and Yager, G. G. (1990). Concurrent and construct validity of three counseling social influence instruments. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development 23(2): 52–66. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 7). Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/effects-of-animal-companions-in-psychotherapy/


PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 7). Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy. https://psychologywriting.com/effects-of-animal-companions-in-psychotherapy/

Work Cited

"Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy." PsychologyWriting, 7 Sept. 2023, psychologywriting.com/effects-of-animal-companions-in-psychotherapy/.


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy'. 7 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy." September 7, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/effects-of-animal-companions-in-psychotherapy/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy." September 7, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/effects-of-animal-companions-in-psychotherapy/.


PsychologyWriting. "Effects of Animal Companions in Psychotherapy." September 7, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/effects-of-animal-companions-in-psychotherapy/.