Efficacy of a Multicomponent Intervention with Animal-Assisted Therapy for Socially Withdrawn Youth in Hong Kong

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam
  • 2 Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 3 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
  • 4 Chinese Evangelical Zion Church Social Service Division, Hong Kong, China
  • 5 Chinese Evangelical Zion Church Social Service Division, Hong Kong, China
  • 6 Hong Kong Animal Therapy Foundation Limited, Hong Kong, China

Abstract

This is an evaluation study of a pilot multicomponent program with animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for socially withdrawn youth with or without mental health problems in Hong Kong. There were fifty-six participants. Decreased level of social anxiety, and increased levels of perceived employability and self-esteem across two withdrawn groups were observed. When comparing those who did and did not receive the AAT component(s), however, AAT did not seem to have additional impacts on outcomes. The qualitative data collected through interviews with ten participants reflected that the AAT component was attractive because the nonhuman animals made them feel respected and loved. This pilot study showed that a multicomponent program with a case management model correlated with increased levels of self-esteem and perceived employability, and a decreased level of social interaction anxiety. In addition, using nonhuman animals in a social service setting appears to be a good strategy to engage difficult-to-engage young people.

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