Animal Assisted Rehabilitation: A conceptual framework

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There is a long tradition of employing animals to support people with certain physical challenges, e.g., guide dogs for people with blindness and service dogs for people with motoric impairments, but the potentials may be much wider than that. Over the last decades, research in the field of Human Animal Interaction has found potentials of employing animals in a range of ways and for a range of purposes, including support and intervention for people with mental illnesses. However, studies have also raised concerns about ensuring animal welfare, integrating the use of animals with existing rehabilitation practices, and the level of knowledge about Human Animal Interaction. Thus, there is a need for a basic framework and consistent terminology in order to enable discussions of which ways we can employ animals in rehabilitation, and what the potential benefits, the prerequisites and the challenges are. This paper discusses current research in light of the Bio Psycho Social (BPS) model of health and the consensus reached by the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) and Assistance Dogs International (AAI) and proposes a conceptual framework for animal assisted rehabilitation. The BPS model allows overall comparison and integration of research findings and theories from the rather heterogeneous field of Human Animal Interaction. IAHAIO provides terminological clarity by defining four general kinds of intervention that a handler-animal-team can offer. They also supply guidelines for professional ethics and competence of the handler. The AAI defines standards for recruitment, training, certification and placement of assistance/service dogs
Translated title of the contributionDyreassisteret rehabilitering: En konceptuel ramme
Original languageEnglish
Publication date9 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019
EventNordic Network of Disability Research
: Inclusion and Exclusion in the Welfare Society
- København, Denmark
Duration: 8 May 201910 May 2019


ConferenceNordic Network of Disability Research
Internet address


  • human animal bond
  • rehabilitation
  • animal assisted therapy
  • assistance dogs


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