Dr Judy Cawdell-Smith (UQ School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, SAFS)

Dr Carlie Driscoll (UQ School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, SHRS)

Desired Fields of Team Members
  • Anthrozoology
  • Audiology
  • Education
  • Equine Science
  • Human Movement Science
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Special Education
  • Speech Pathology
  • Veterinary Science
External Collaborations
  • Autism Cooperative Research Centre – Prof Sylvia Rodger (Director of Research & Education)
  • McIntyre Centre – Jankees van der Have (Chairman)
  • Symbio Alliance – Elizabeth Owens (Proprietor)
Goal of the Research Unit

This Research Unit is devoted to the study of animal-assisted therapy (AAT), whereby health and education professionals employ animals for learning and/or therapeutic interventions with children and adults. AAT seeks 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 populations with clinical dysfunction, leading to evidence-based practice in the field of Animal-Assisted Therapy.

This Unit will capitalize upon the strengths of individual team members and collaborators across the disciplines of anthrozoology, equine science, veterinary science, psychology, social work, education, and rehabilitation therapies amongst others, providing opportunities for world-class, multidisciplinary research of the highest standards.

Operational Objectives

The operational objectives of the unit are:

  1. To be actively involved in multidisciplinary research projects investigating animal-assisted therapy.
  2. To actively seek funding from internal sources, external industry and community funding, as well as competitive research grants from national and international agencies.
  3. To attract research higher degree (PhD) students of high calibre.
  4. To publish scientific reports in peer-reviewed, high-quality, national and international journals.
  5. To hold regular seminars, and use other forums, to disseminate the work of the Unit.
Administration of the Research Unit

The Unit is led by two directors (one each from UQ SAFS and SHRS) who oversee daily operation, with emphasis on building the Unit’s research profile and extending our research network at both the national and international level. The co-directors assist team members to achieve the goals and objectives of the Unit. Funding, publications, research student load, and other outcomes associated with the Unit will be attributed to the individual researchers (and their host institution) in accordance with their pre-determined level of contribution. 

External Memberships/Affiliations of Research Team
  • Animals & Society Institute
  • Asia Pacific Society for the Study of Speech, Language and Hearing
  • Audiological Society of Australia (ASA)
  • Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International
  • IDA Research Institute Denmark
  • Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH)