Attitudes to animal-assisted therapy with farm animals among health staff and farmers


B. Berget
Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
PO Box 5003
NO-1432 Ås


Green care is a concept that involves the use of farm animals, plants, gardens or the landscape in cooperation with health institutions for different target groups of clients. The present study aimed at examining psychiatric therapists' (n = 60) and farmers' (n = 15) knowledge, experience and attitudes to Green care and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with farm animals for people with psychiatric disorders. Most respondents had some or large knowledge about Green care, but experience with Green care was generally low in both groups. Both farmers and therapists believed that AAT with farm animals could contribute positively to therapy to a large or very large extent, with farmers being significantly more positive. Most of the therapists thought that AAT with farm animals contributes to increased skills in interactions with other humans, with female therapists being more positive than males. Two-thirds of the therapists believed that AAT with farm animals to a large extent could contribute better to mental health than other types of occupational therapy. There were no differences in attitudes to AAT between psychiatrists/psychologists and psychiatric nurses. This study confirms the marked potential of offering AAT services with farm animals for psychiatric patients by documenting positive attitudes to it among psychiatric therapists.