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How do forensic psychiatric patients experience connection with therapy dogs?

dc.contributor.advisorClaypool, Timothy
dc.contributor.advisorDell, Colleen
dc.contributor.committeeMemberOkoko, Janet
dc.contributor.committeeMemberMcIntyre, Laureen
dc.creatorSmith, Sonia
dc.creator.orcid0000-0001-6095-2415 2021
dc.description.abstractPrisoners commonly face chronic loneliness and lack social support. Disconnection from life on the outside is especially true for forensic psychiatric patients. Attachment theory indicates that insecure attachment is linked to adult anti-social behavior and subsequent incarceration. According to the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model, cognitive, affective and social factors increase inmates’ risk for recidivism. Canine-Assisted Interventions (CAIs) have been found to offer love/comfort and support to inmates during their sentences. It is unknown, however, how inmates experience connection with the dogs involved in the CAIs. Applying an instrumental case study design, interview transcripts were analyzed from six forensic psychiatric patients and their mental health clinicians at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) following completion of a Canine Assisted Therapy (CAT) program with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program (SJATDP). Thematic analysis was employed to interpret and identify patterns in the patients’ experiences of connecting with the dogs. Four key themes, and several sub-themes, were identified: physical touch, safety (including “dropping the mask”), reciprocity (including mutual recognition; empathy and mutual understanding; and caregiving), and acceptance (including happiness). Across all of the themes, the connection the patients experienced was shared as enduring. Themes are discussed within the context of the RNR model and implications for offender rehabilitation and recidivism are offered. Attachment theory is used to explain the Human-Animal Bond (HAB) and experiences of secure attachment through it, including how therapy dogs possess qualities of a Rogerian-like therapist to foster therapeutic change
dc.subjectCanine-Assisted Therapy
dc.subjectHuman-Animal Bond
dc.subjectRisk- Need-Responsivity
dc.subjecttherapy dogs
dc.subjectattachment theory
dc.titleHow do forensic psychiatric patients experience connection with therapy dogs?
dc.type.materialtext Psychology and Special Education Psychology and Special Education of Saskatchewan of Education (M.Ed.)


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