Pet Therapy in Correctional Institutions: A Perspective From Relational-Cultural Theory

J Evid Inf Soc Work. 2016;13(2):228-35. doi: 10.1080/23761407.2015.1029840. Epub 2015 Jun 17.


In this article the authors apply Relational-Cultural Theory to pet therapy in correctional institutions. An important premise is that when pet therapy is used in prisons a symbiotic relationship develops between pets and prison inmates which, at the same time, improve their relationships with people themselves. Relational-Cultural Theory posits that relationships with individuals are not just a means to an end. Rather, good relationships promote growth and healthy development; they also cultivate reciprocal empathy. Hence, a major reason of suffering for most people is their experience of isolation; healing can occur in growth-fostering relationships.

Keywords: Law; Relational-Cultural Theory; mutual empathy; personal growth; pet therapy; prisoners; relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Assisted Therapy / organization & administration*
  • Empathy*
  • Humans
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisons / organization & administration*
  • Social Theory*