CONTACT Introducing impACT for Canine-Assisted Therapy - Dr. Christian Thurstone

I am pleased to share this treatment guide, “impACT: Animal-Assisted Therapy Manual”, which can be used in conjunction with “impACT: An MI/ACT Trans-Diagnostic Manual for Substance Use and Co-occurring Problems.” Both are yours, free for the download.

About Animal-Assisted Therapy

Cover of impact animals manual The use of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) will help clients reduce anxiety, and encourage them to open up in session and reduce resistance in treatment as they explore self-soothing techniques and work towards increasing their interpersonal effectiveness, self-esteem, emotional regulation skills, distress tolerance, problem-solving abilities, anger management, and their motivation. AAT also promotes comfort, reinforces activities of daily living, and encourages communication and self-care. (Reference: Amiot CE & Bastian B (2015), Toward a new psychology of human-animal relations. Psychological Bulletin 141:6-47)

Though these are training resources for therapists, impACT could help a wide array of people wanting to support and treat youth and families struggling with adolescent substance use. ImpACT was developed by clinicians and researchers who worked with significant input from adolescents. Such collaboration is extraordinary — and also makes it much more feasible to implement ImpACT in real-world settings, such as the hospitals and school-based clinics where I work. And that’s what we need: effective treatments rooted in sound science that can be applied in the real world.
I invite you to review frequently asked questions about impACT.


I hope you find this manual as helpful as my team members and I have. Please contact me with your feedback.


About Chris Thurstone

Dr. Christian Thurstone is one of only a few dozen physicians in the United States who are board-certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry. He is Director of Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction and serves as director of medical training for the university’s addiction psychiatry fellowship program. You can read more about him here.

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