CHICAGO, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher says the human-animal bond provides great health value and is often underestimated.
Froma Walsh of the University of Chicago says despite the well-documented value of the human-animal bond across cultures, attachments with companion animals have been undervalued.
In the field of mental health, profound attachments with pets are often marginalized, seen as abnormal, or altogether ignored in theory, training and practice, and even pathologized, Walsh says.
"The powerful meaning and significance of companion animals is underestimated," Walsh says in a statement.
In an article published in Family Process, Walsh describes the research showing the health and mental health benefits of companion pets. She also describes the emerging field of animal-assisted interventions in hospitals and in elder care as well as in school, prison and community programs.
A companion paper by Walsh in the same journal describes the role of pets and relational dynamics in family systems and family therapy.