program evaluation

k9 connection Qualitative Study
In 2008, k9 connection commissioned an MSW student researcher to conduct a formal k9 connection program evaluation. The researcher utilized primarily qualitative methods while studying one intensive three-week program which took place at the Vista Del Mar residential treatment facility in July of 2008. Her evaluation included focus groups and one-on-one interviews with facility counselors. Conclusions indicated the program resulted in students’ improved images of self, development of patience, compassion, and empathy.

k9 connection Quantitative Evaluation
During the 2012-2013 school year, Jessica Thomas, a researcher from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology did her Doctoral dissertation on “Human Animal Interaction as an Intervention with At-Risk Youth: Assessing the Change in Cognitions, Emotional Intelligence and Empathy,” based on a study of a year of k9 connection programs with pre-and post-tests given to all k9 connection students. Her results showed a statistically significant increase in emotional intelligence and empathy, and a decrease in antisocial and self-serving perceptions. In lay terms, the students showed significantly more developed social and emotional abilities following participation in the three-week intensive k9 program. Measureable gains were achieved in the teens’ ability to recognize and express their emotions, to understand and relate to others, to cope with stress, to begin thinking in a less negative or self-serving manner, and to give increased consideration to the thoughts and feelings of others.

This is a major study with important results and implications for the whole field of human/animal intervention and we are honored to have been the program chosen for this research.

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