First Advisor

Andrew Mashburn

Date of Award

Spring 5-24-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors






Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), emotional support animal (ESA), therapy dog (THD), assistance animal (AA), service animal (SD), animal visitation program (AVP), animal-assisted intervention (AAI)


University students are an especially vulnerable population to anxiety and depression. Simultaneously, they have little access to mental health resources, but emotional support and therapy animals may provide a feasible solution. This literature review explored the ways in which emotional support and therapy animals may be of help to young adults in higher education settings. Specifically, this collection of research aimed to contour the benefits that come with the applied use of emotional support animals (ESAs) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) as mental health interventions, and how they set themselves apart from alternative treatment options. This synthesis of the evidence found that animals can reduce university students’ anxiety and depression through providing roles of companionship, emotional support, therapy, assistance, and service, though the utilization of ESAs and varying methods of AAT remained the primary focus of this review.