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Companion Animals and Vulnerable Youth: Promoting Engagement between Youth and Professional Service Providers

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Vulnerable youth have fewer social ties as a result of inadequate housing and a lack of social support. It is well established that many of these youth tend to underutilize mental health, medical, and social services. Among marginalized and stigmatized populations, the affirming and nonjudgmental presence of companion animals appears to be important for developing collaborative relationships between youth and professional service providers. This paper reviews literature on the benefits of companion animals for assisting providers in their attempts to help youth find a stable living environment. Recommendations are made for providers considering incorporating therapy animals into their existing services.
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Keywords: Companion animals; homelessness; mental health; social support; vulnerable youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Publication date: July 3, 2016

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