Animal and college student emotional relationship: path to pet therapy on campus
Noden, Brooke N.
University of Wisconsin--Stout. Research Services
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Many college students experience high levels of stress and/or homesickness in their first two years of college. When students experience this emotional state, they may begin to identify as someone who has anxiety and/or depression. Students who are new to the college environment often find relief in a form of familiarity. A family pet holds a permanent bond of perceived unconditional love and affection for their owners. The purpose of this study is to explore the emotional bond a new college student has with animals while away from home and to see if animal interaction while at college helps reduce stress and/or homesickness. This could ultimately help lower the number of college students who experience anxiety and/or depression. The methods used for this study were a) a randomized survey of 102 freshmen and sophomore college students at UW-Stout and b) a pet therapy session with those who indicated on the survey they would like to participate. The results showed 92% of freshmen and sophomore students with pets at home believe interaction with a pet would help reduce their stress levels and/or homesickness. However, even 50% of students with no family pet at home indicated that pet interaction would help lower stress and/or homesickness. The focus group sessions indicated having animal interaction would help the residents cope with stress. This research suggests pet therapy would be a beneficial addition to the Stout campus to help reduce the number of freshmen and sophomore students who are experiencing stress, homesickness, anxiety and/or depression.