I read the follow ups and article link on pet therapy w/ bunnies. As the program director for my behavioral health pet therapy program..."Bunny Luv", I have a few ideas.
1. Our therapy bunnies free roam throughout our classrooms during the day. Some classrooms only keep them out during certain classes, activity times or group therapy sessions. Initially we were concerned that the bunnies might be a distraction, but, behavioral outbursts in 2 of our classrooms have decreased about 80-90%!!!!
2. For future planning (i.e. post-dissertation hell), I'd love to study the potential effects of a therapy bunny during individual therapy. My idea is to set up a control w/ no bunny, a bunny located in a cage or confined area, and a bunny that free ranges w/in the therapy office. I have a feeling that the bunnies may increase client disclosure and attention.
3. When we have students that our acting out or really need a therapeutic time out...we allow the student to work on an animal project. For example, clean out the cage, brush the bunny, prepare a veggie treat, set up blankies or something. Its an awesome distraction technique.
I'm returning to individual therapy sessions in the new year, in addition to my teaching job. We have discussed including one of the bunnies w/in some therapy sessions. I'll keep everyone posted. I really feel that mere bunny presence is therapeutic in itself. I have read about pet therapy programs where kids are allowed to "rent out" a pet when reading silently. Basically when taking out a book at the library they also get a pet. Participating students increased reading skills.