The Human-Animal Bond: The Relational Significance of Companion Animals and Their Role in Family Therapy

Co-sponsored with the Family Process Institute and the Ackerman Institute for the Family


The importance of human-animal bonds is well documented throughout history, across cultures, and in recent research. However, attachments with companion animals have been undervalued and even pathologized in the mental health field. In this webinar Dr. Walsh describes the emerging field of animal-assisted interventions, noting applications in hospital and eldercare settings, and in innovative school, prison, and community programs. She also examines the role of pets in couple and family resilience and in relational dynamics and tensions, and briefly addresses bereavement in the loss of a cherished pet. Finally, she explores the ways that clients’ pets and the use of therapists’ companion animals in animal-assisted therapy can inform and enrich clinical practice as valuable resources in healing.

Froma Walsh, PhD is Co-Founder & Co-Director of the Chicago Center for Family Health and the Firestone Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago. Dr. Walsh is the foremost international authority on family resilience and a leading expert on trauma and loss; family diversity and challenges in a changing world; the therapeutic benefits of human-animal bonds; and the spiritual dimension in family life and family therapy. Her research-informed family resilience framework is widely applied worldwide in research and community-based intervention and prevention in a range of situations of adversity.Her collaborative, multi-level systemic approach integrates neurobiological, developmental, relational, socio-cultural, and multi-faith spiritual perspectives.

Dr. Walsh is a registered Clinical Psychologist and AAMFT Approved Supervisor. She is Past President, American Family Therapy Academy, past editor, Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, and has received numerous awards for her distinguished contributions to family therapy and the mental health field. With 120+ scholarly publications, recent books include: Strengthening Family Resilience, (3rd ed., 2016); Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity, (4th ed;  2012 / 2016); Spiritual Resources in Family Therapy (2nd ed.  2009); Living Beyond Loss: Death in the Family (with M. McGoldrick) (22004); Her books have been translated into many languages worldwide.

Dr. Walsh received her BA (honors, Psychology), the University of California, Berkeley; MSW, Smith College; and PhD. (Human Development & Behavioral Sciences), the University of Chicago; and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. She is a highly regarded speaker and consultant nationally and internationally.

Learning Objectives:

1. Learn research findings on the importance of human-animal bonds in positive development from childhood through later life; and in stress-reduction, healing, recovery, and resilience.

2. Learn innovative program applications in animal-assisted approaches in school-based, healthcare, mental health, rehabilitation, veteran, and eldercare services.

3. Gain relational / systemic principles and assessment priorities to understand the significance for clients of their companion animals, the role of pets in couple and family dynamics, and “disenfranchised loss” of a cherished pet.

4. Learn recent developments in Animal-Assisted Therapy, and ways trained therapy animals (dogs, horses, others) can be valuable resources in therapeutic practice.

Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Time: 12:00-1:30 ET
1.5 Contact Hours
Tuition: $25 for general admission, $40 for 1.5 CEU Credits, $135 for group registration

The Ackerman Institute for the Family SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0052.

This program has been approved for Continuing Education Credit Hours by the National Association of Social Workers, CT and meets the continuing education criteria for CT Social Work Licensure renewal.

If you would like to apply online, click below.

For questions, please contact Damaly Ferreira at:
Phone: 212-879-4900 ext. 111

(This webinar is part of a series co-sponsored with the Family Process Institute. Please check back for more listings to come.)