The Knowledge and Beliefs of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) Professionals on the Use of Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in Forensic Interviews
Johnson, Alyssa M.
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The present study aimed at exploring the current level of knowledge of professionals in the field on Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), childhood memory development, and the legal aspects of CSA cases, as well as surveying attitudes and beliefs regarding the practice of using therapy animals during forensic interviews. Forty-five participants, who worked with maltreated children in the mental health profession completed the survey. Based on prior research, I hypothesized that those with higher educational attainment would rate themselves higher on knowledge of childhood memory development, which was not supported by the data. I also hypothesized that those with experience with using therapy animals would indicate favorable attitudes and beliefs regarding their use in the forensic interview, a finding the data supported. Results indicated that, despite minimal research and understanding of the impact this intervention, participants demonstrated a favorable attitude towards the use of therapy animals during the forensic interview. The implication of these findings suggests that clinicians may be more likely to use therapy animals in practice without fully understanding the effects. Additionally, as the field focuses on use of empirically-based interventions, the professionals’ willingness to condone or implement this intervention despite the lack of empirical support represents an intriguing finding.