Canine Assisted Family Therapy: A Proposed Integrative Treatment Model for Families Using a Dog and the Positive Discipline Approach to Parenting

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

Second Advisor

Judith Fox

Third Advisor

Beth Peters


Family therapy, Canine assisted family treatment (CAFT)


The aim of this paper is to propose an experiential systemic approach to family therapy that promotes psychological growth based on internal change through attuned interactions with a therapy dog, therapist, and family members. Various theoretical perspectives will be presented as they create the basis for the treatment model. First, a description of animal assisted therapy (AAT) will be provided, along with a summary of existing research that supports the therapeutic value of incorporating an animal into treatment from an attachment perspective. Next, the importance of parent involvement in family therapy will be discussed to promote secure attachment between parents and children. For the purpose of this treatment model proposal, the Positive Discipline approach to promoting connection and healthy child development will be outlined. Finally, this approach will be modified to fit a treatment setting and integrated with canine assisted interventions to form the proposed Canine Assisted Family Treatment (CAFT) model. Examples of interventions with a therapy dog will be provided to illustrate how this modal can be applied clinically. Note: the words client and patient will be used interchangeably to refer to whomever is seeking therapy

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


51 pages

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