Animal-assisted therapy ameliorates anhedonia in schizophrenia patients: A controlled pilot study

Inbar Nathans-Barel, Pablo Feldman, Barry Berger, Ilan Modai, Henry Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Anhedonia, a component of the negative symptom dimension and a core phenomenon in schizophrenia, is associated with poor social functioning and is resistant to treatment. We tested the hypothesis that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) may improve anhedonia. Objective: To compare the effect of psychosocial treatment sessions in which a dog was an active participant (AAT) with comparable sessions without a dog, using a controlled protocol. Method: The hedonic tone of 10 chronic schizophrenia patients who participated in 10 weekly interactive sessions of AAT was compared to a control group treated without animal assistance. The hedonic tone was measured with the Snaith-Hamilton Pleasure Scale. Subjective quality of life variables and clinical symptoms were also assessed. Results: The AAT group showed a significant improvement in the hedonic tone compared to controls. They also showed an improvement in the use of leisure time and a trend towards improvement in motivation. Conclusion: AAT may contribute to the psychosocial rehabilitation and quality of life of chronic schizophrenia patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • Anhedonia
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Controlled study
  • Rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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