A Research Project Proposal:

Dolphin Assisted Therapy:

History, Status and Future Trends


A Dolphin-Assisted Therapy session, Island Dolphin Care,Inc., Key Largo Florida

DH, instructor;"K", 11-year-old autistic patient; and Squirt, Therapist




  • To produce a current and comprehensive database on Dolphin-Assisted Therapy
    with a physical archive and web site


Definition and Description:

To conduct a global assessment of Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT), to produce a library of current information with descriptions of programs and protocols based on interviews with program Directors and therapists, documentation of therapy sessions, and comparative evaluations.

A definitive collection will be assembled for the Choices Foundation Library and the Cetacean Studies Institute Archives (CSI), of published papers, program materials, symposium proceedings, video documentaries, recordings and reports, and other relevant information.

The ownership of this collection will be shared by both organizations.

Phase Two: An extensive web site will be assembled, listing available materials for sale or rental, as well as an information service, providing packets of information tailored for the needs of interested clients. The web site will contribute definitions of various protocols, descriptions of programs and their locations, and evaluate programs for specific needs.

The Need:

Alternatives to traditional healing methods are being sought by people of every economic strata. People around the world search medical resources seeking cures, or relief from suffering, and find that Dolphins have unique powers to heal. Children in Russia, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, Europe, and the United States are being successfully treated in DAT programs. This is news of profound implications.

In America, billions of dollars per year are being spent on alternative medical care. Informed choices are important in this growing field, and nothing currently exists for comparative evaluation of the various forms of DAT.

DAT has a wide variety of protocols in current use. CSI can contribute significantly to this emerging field of Health care by studying the field, interviewing the key participants and creating a database available in public forums.


A preliminary assessment of DAT, conducted by CSI over recent years, has revealed a credible thread of evidence from this work. It is very promising for patients with central nervous system damage or compromise and the evidence is suggestive of further development of effectiveness as understanding grows.

The Cetacean Studies Institute is uniquely qualified to conduct this research project, with it's reputation for integrity and balance and it's unequalled connections to all areas of Cetacean studies.

Founded in 1996 for the purpose of enhancing interactions between Humans and Dolphins by building a global archive, conducting research, and producing and disseminating educational materials, CSI has proven capacity to carry out this project to completion.

The Executive Director, C. Scott Taylor, PhD is widely recognized as an expert in Human/Dolphin relations, having worked in this field since 1983. His doctorate is based on his research into the social dimensions of Dolphin-Assisted Therapy, and is the first research of its kind. His research involved a comprehensive analysis of the broad discourse of DAT, including scientific reports, challenges by scholars and activists, and was the first research project that included interviews with families, therapists, dolphin trainers, facility managers, and key persons in the invention and development of DAT.

He was the keynote speaker at the Second International Dolphin-Assisted Therapy Research Association Symposium in Cancun, Mexico, 1996.

His work on behalf of dolphins and humans has been recognised by Dr. John C. Lilly, MD.

Choices Foundation, of Sedona Arizona, a 501 (c) 3 foundation, has been established to investigate, validate, and educate in the fields of integrated therapies. Its mission is to discover the specific applicability of alternative healing systems and to educate the public about these choices.

Choices Foundation can make a valuable contribution to the field by administering this research project by the Cetacean Studies Institute and by maintaining a freely accessible database and library of current information for Doctors, therapists and patients to investigate.

Current Status:

After years of informal development, this project is now ready to be taken to the next step. We are seeking additional funding to implement our project design. This will include sending a small team with a video camera and recording gear on an investigative journey, to document therapy sessions, interview major informants and collect data.
Once the collection phase is complete, a process of evaluation will be undertaken of the various protocols that fall under the general name of Dolphin-Assisted Therapy.
A library of information will be created, cataloged and installed at the Choices Foundation facilities in Sedona, Arizona, and in Queensland, Australia.
A web site will be created to inform the public, therapists, and legislators of the existence of this resource, with information about how to access the database thru Choices and CSI.

In Phase Two of this project, a web site will be built where information can be downloaded, video tapes purchased, and updates can be posted from DAT sites around the world.

It is anticipated that the availability of this new resource will enable the firm establishment of

IDATRA (The International Dolphin-Assisted Therapy Research Association), which will be able to grow into the organization that the world-wide community of DAT requires.


  • Travel to interview therapists, program Directors, patients. Observe and document sessions.
  • Gather materials: program marketing materials, protocol descriptions, forms used for admission and evaluation, video tape of interviews and sessions.
  • Analyse materials: categorisation and comparative analysis.
  • Publication of report, including data and conclusions, on the Internet.
  • Assemble and install library materials for Choices Foundation and Cetacean Studies Institute archives.
  • Submit final report to funding agencies.

Phase Two:

Assemble web site for public access to information, including sale or rental of videos and handbook.


Therapy session with Parent, Trainer and Two Therapists


Facilities or locations used for DAT change often. A current list of facilities is available upon request to qualified research partners.


After one week of therapy sessions, patient confidence increases.


Evaluation of Effectiveness:

Tracking of visitors to the on-line database will be accomplished electronically, to determine general levels of interest.

All requests for information packets will be entered into a developing database.

A response form will be mailed to each recipient of any packet sent out, with a simple questionaire asking for feedback on:

  • suitability of information
  • whether information has influenced their decisions vis a vis Dolphin-Assisted Therapy
  • clarity and quality of information

An annual review will be conducted to discover trends in accessing, effectiveness of marketing, and perceived value of the service.


Project Timeline:

8 weeks to prepare questionaires, identify key informants, schedule visits, outline and book itinerary

16 weeks of travel

18 weeks to compile report, assemble library and produce initial introductory web site

4 weeks to present report and set up library

Total: 46 weeks

Expressions of Interest are welcome.

Detailed budgets are available for interested funding partners. Please contact us for further information.


A Dolphin Therapist, Dolphin Discovery, Mexico

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