I find the following story interesting, for I am a dog-owner myself and believe in the therapeutic effects of those little furry friends…
Specially trained therapy dogs from America’s VetDogs are making strides in aiding those people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD often results in symptoms of depression and withdrawal, making it difficult for individuals to connect with a therapist during evaluations and treatment. The dogs, used at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, provide conversation starters between the therapist and patient, and help to build trust between the two.
Therapy dogs have been used for Alzheimer patients and those suffering from depression for a number of years. Although their use with PTSD treatment is new, the results have been dramatic in a short span of time. An occupational therapist, Susanne Steele, used one of the dogs to help a soldier suffering from PTSD to open up about her experiences. The Augusta Chronicle notes that the soldier had not been to a mall or large store since returning from combat. When she took the dog with her to the mall, however, people approached her, asking questions about the dog, and then, thanking her for her service. These small social interactions eased the soldier back into society, alleviating some of the stress associated with returning home after combat. The dog has played an integral part in her PTSD recovery.
There are only a few dogs that are currently being used for this treatment, while some are deployed overseas, helping to treat soldiers grappling with combat associated stress. Although the unorthodox treatment has been used for a short amount of time, it appears that the use of dogs in PTSD treatment is having a large impact on soldiers.