No scientific support for dolphin “therapy” to treat anything

“People suffering from chronic mental or physical disabilities should not resort to a dolphin ‘healing’ experience.” That’s the warning from two researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

What’s dolphin therapy, you ask?

According to one provider, dolphin-assisted therapy offers hands-on dolphin encounters, during which each individual participates in a variety of trained behaviors (eg, belly rubs, kisses, and dorsal tows).

That’s nice.

But when the researchers reviewed the results from 5 dolphin therapy studies published in the last 8 years, they found that each was flawed, which prevented any assessment of the findings.

The bottom line?
There remains no compelling evidence that dolphin-assisted therapy is a legitimate treatment, or that it affords any more than fleeting improvements in mood.

Swimming with dolphins sounds like fun, but no scientific evidence exists for any long-term benefit. People who spend thousands of dollars to swim with the dolphins don’t just lose out financially; they put themselves, and the dolphin, at risk of injury or infection.

12/20/07 19:10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.