Ethics of animal-assisted psychotherapy

K. Hediger, Herwig Grimm, Andreas Aigner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Animal-assisted psychotherapy is increasingly popular and attracts considerable attention in science. Integrating animals into therapy aims at generating added value in health and well-being of humans as well as non-human animals. This approach is reflected in the One Health perspective. However, animal-assisted psychotherapy raises issues regarding the ethical standards in the therapy setting in general and ethical reflections about our responsibilities towards therapy animals in particular. According to a dominant account in animal ethics, our moral obligations are based on welfare concerns. But this approach can be supplemented by a contextual view that highlights the moral relevance of particular relationships in animal-assisted psychotherapy. Therapy animals place moral duties on the therapist that go beyond welfare considerations and can be based on relation-based reasoning in the therapeutic context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Psychotherapy Ethics
EditorsManuel Trachsel, Jens Gaab, N. Biller-Adorno, S. Tekin, J. Sadler
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198817338
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2021


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