Dr. Abel mentors students interested in Animal Assisted Therapy. The use of therapy and service animals in health care and educational settings is rapidly increasing, but research in this area is lacking. We have recently begun research to determine the effects of human-animal interaction on patients, students, health-care provider and trainers.
Current research projects include:
General Description of Student Activities
Students are expected to complete at least one hypothesis-driven project focusing on outcomes related to therapy or service animals. Students may analyze quantitative or qualitative data from ongoing projects including standardized assessments, training journals or behavioral observation. There may be publication opportunities for MSOT students. Most of the research will be completed at Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) in Vandalia, MO; Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC), Pacific, MO; Garfield Place Apartments (Safe Haven); community locations including schools, Paraquad, or in conjunction with Variety, the Children’s Charity; or the Program in Occupational Therapy building. Students may occasionally need to drive if their project involves observation of animal assisted therapy, assessment of trainers at WERDCC or MECC, or community outreach programs. Some studies may involve evening or weekend research. Students are expected to work on laboratory projects and attend weekly lab meetings.
Examples of Projects
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We welcome inquiries from prospective students, potential collaborators, community partners, alumni and others who want to connect with us. Please complete the form below to begin the conversation.
Current, future, and accepted applicants are encouraged to visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion, followed by a tour that’s led by one of our current occupational therapy students.
Upcoming visit sessions*:
*At least two to three visit sessions are scheduled every month. All times are Central Standard Time (CST). Click here for more info.