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Evidence Based Practice Project - Pet Therapy

College students are under intense amounts of stress to produce and complete academic work of high standards. This study aims to determine, in college students struggling with anxiety and depression, how does incorporating the use of emotional support animals into a treatment plan compared to taking only pharmacological therapy affect the incidence of panic attacks and depressive episodes? Research shows that college students are at an increased risk of anxiety and depression due to age, yet counseling centers aren’t available, overrun, or are considered embarrassing. It has been found that animals can act as therapy and reduce anxiety and depression through the natural release of chemicals in the brain. To test this hypothesis a PDSA cycle was developed. Students would be asked to sign up for pet therapy sessions. Prior to the session they would report demographic data including if they currently take medication for anxiety and depression and if they have regular exposure to animals. Students would report their level of anxiety and depression using the Hamilton anxiety and depression rating scales prior to and after taking part in pet therapy. Responses would be analyzed through a pre and post paired analysis. These results will suggest if incorporating pet therapy into the treatment plan of college students has the potential to decrease anxiety and depression in this age group. On this basis, the concept of pet therapy should be taken into account when developing counseling centers on campus.