Posted by & filed under Abnormal Psychology, Anxiety OC PTSD, Clinical Neuropsychology, Psychological Disorders, Stress Coping - Health, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: You have heard of service dogs, right? They help out people struggling with PTSD and help them get on with their lives with fewer of the issues that can be associated with PTSD. However, what do you know about what having a service dog actually does for a person with PTSD? Perhaps you just “know” that having a canine best friend is obviously good for anyone and likely confirms additional benefits to those with PTSD but what does a service dog actually DO for those with PTSD and how does what they do compare to the potential positive impacts of medications or therapy? Well, there IS research on tis. Have read through the linked article to see what it has to say about the added therapeutic value associated with service dogs.

Source: Service dogs can help veterans with PTSD – growing evidence shows they may reduce anxiety in practical ways, Leanne Nieforth and Marguerite E. O’Hare, The Conversation.

Date: March 26, 2021

Photo Credit:  Image by CLVann from Pixabay

Article Link: https://theconversation.com/service-dogs-can-help-veterans-with-ptsd-growing-evidence-shows-they-may-reduce-anxiety-in-practical-ways-156550

I found it fascinating to see what service dogs can do for those with PTSD and how service dogs have therapeutic impact above and beyond that provided by medications and therapies. The suggestion that more information needs to get out to the public at large about the nature and role of service dogs has at least two components. First, it is important for those of us who like dogs to understand the role that service dogs play in their owners’ lives so that we do not simply start interacting with the “good dogs” that are service companions without first considering their job and their owners’ needs. Second, as with mental health issues in general we need to work to reduce stigma in society in general and, by extension to reduce and eliminate the impact of stigma on those dealing with issues like PTSD.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do service dogs do for individuals with PTSD?
  2. How does what service dogs do for folks with PTSD compare or interact with medications and psychotherapies?
  3. What does the public need to know or be aware of with regards to service dogs and why?

References (Read Further):

O’haire, M. E., & Rodriguez, K. E. (2018). Preliminary efficacy of service dogs as a complementary treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in military members and veterans. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 86(2), 179. Link

Reisen, Jan (2021) Service Dogs, Working Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs: What’s the Difference? American Kennel Club. Link

Rodriguez, K. E., LaFollette, M. R., Hediger, K., Ogata, N., & O’Haire, M. E. (2020). Defining the PTSD service dog intervention: perceived importance, usage, and symptom specificity of psychiatric service dogs for military veterans. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1638. Link

Rodriguez, K. E., Bryce, C. I., Granger, D. A., & O’Haire, M. E. (2018). The effect of a service dog on salivary cortisol awakening response in a military population with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 202-210. Link

Nieforth, L. O., Rodriguez, K. E., & O’Haire, M. E. (2021). Expectations versus experiences of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) service dogs: An inductive conventional content analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Abstract Link

O’haire, M. E., & Rodriguez, K. E. (2018). Preliminary efficacy of service dogs as a complementary treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in military members and veterans. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 86(2), 179. Link

Schoenfeld-Tacher, R., Hellyer, P., Cheung, L., & Kogan, L. (2017). Public perceptions of service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(6), 642. Link

LaFollette, M. R., Rodriguez, K. E., Ogata, N., & O’Haire, M. E. (2019). Military veterans and their PTSD service dogs: associations between training methods, PTSD severity, dog behavior, and the human-animal bond. Frontiers in veterinary science, 6, 23. Link

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