Date of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Science in Early Childhood and Family Development


Early Childhood and Family Development

Committee Chair

Denise Cunningham


The field of Child Life and of canine-assisted therapy have both been shown to facilitate opportunities for patients to cope more positively during hospitalization. The purpose of this study is to explore the attitudes, experiences and perceptions of current Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) who are primary or secondary FCAT handlers within child life departments that also run facility canine assisted therapy (FCAT) programs in a pediatric hospital. Qualitative data were collected from the participants using an online one-time survey through, Qualtrics. Four research questions were explored, specifically inquiring about the positive and negatives of FCAT programs, specific interventions where facility canine assistants were a part of, and how the presence of a facility canine assistant changes/impacts the basic interventions of a CCLS. Results indicated that patient interventions and support, and positive culture change were the most recognized positives. While, ‘having to say ‘no’’, was the most recognized challenge or negative associated with FCAT. After reviewing the data, it makes sense to explore the combined role of the CCLS as the facility canine handler, and how the natural interventions provided by a CCLS could have a more meaningful or impactful influence on patients, families and staff with the facility canine assistant.


child life specialist, canine-assisted therapy, facility canine assisted therapy, coping, hospitalization

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research


© Bailey N. Barnett

Open Access