Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Sharon Webb


This paper contains research examining the effectiveness of alternative therapies - play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, horticulture therapy, and animal-assisted therapies – in helping various special needs populations. The focus of this research was on animal-assisted therapies that utilized therapy dogs or horses. These therapies provide a plethora of benefits physically, mentally, and psychologically. 11 interviews were conducted with counselors, psychologists, therapy dog owners, and an equine therapy director to further examine the effectiveness of these alternative therapy programs. Each interview presented unique evidence of the positive impact these therapies are having on various populations. All research into these therapy programs indicated confidence as a major benefit for their participants. These alternative therapy programs are demonstrating evidence of their effectiveness through the achievements of the therapeutic goals and confidence gained by their participants.