The Animal-Assisted Interventions Research Unit


This Research Unit is devoted to the study of animal-assisted interventions (AAI), whereby animals are included in health, education, and human services for the purpose of therapeutic gains. Animal-assisted therapies, education, and activities seek to provide a range of benefits, in physical and mental health, in addition to behavioural change and quality of life. Animals involved in such interventions are viewed as co-therapists whose well-being, including the right to flourish, is of paramount concern.

The Unit’s research agenda seeks to empirically demonstrate that live human-animal interaction has unique therapeutic effects for the general public, as well as for those populations with clinical dysfunction. Our investigations will contribute to evidence-based practice in the field of animal-assisted interventions.

Capitalising on the strengths of individual team members and collaborators across the disciplines of anthrozoology, equine science, veterinary science, philosophy, psychology, social work, education, and rehabilitation therapies amongst others, this Unit provides opportunities for world-class, multidisciplinary research of the highest standards.


Dr Carlie Driscoll (School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences)

Dr Judy Cawdell-Smith (School of Agriculture and Food Sciences)

  • Animal Behaviourist -  Evangelos Diamantakos (University of Thessaly, Greece)
  • Audiology - Dr Carlie Driscoll (UQ School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences)
  • Education – Maria Ejlertsen (UQ School of Education)
  • Equine Science - Dr Judy Cawdell-Smith (UQ School of Agriculture & Food Sciences)
  • Medicine - Dr Theresa Scott (UQ School of Medicine)
  • Occupational Therapy - Dr Pamela Meredith (UQ School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences); Jessica Hill (UQ School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences)
  • Philosophy (Ethics) – Dr Simon Coghlan (Australian Catholic University)
  • Psychology - Prof Nancy Pachana (UQ School of Psychology); Dr Rachel Hogg (Charles Sturt University, Dept. of Psychology)
  • Social Work – Dr Deborah Walsh (UQ School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work)
  • Veterinary Science – Dr Judy Cawdell-Smith; Dr Simon Coghlan
Research Higher Degree Candidates:




Project Title/Description

Jessica Hill


Prof J Zivianni, Dr C Driscoll, Dr J Cawdell-Smith

Canine-assisted Occupational Therapy Interventions and Engagement in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Driscoll, C., & Cawdell-Smith, J. (2017). Animal-Assisted Interventions: A potential role in audiological rehabilitation? The Hearing Journal, in press.