Animal-Assisted Therapy For PTSD

How does animal-assisted therapy works? Benefits of such therapy?

When PTSD causes fear, what therapy can help?
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Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy- PTSD Treatment?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness associated with people who have witnessed or experienced life-threatening events such as war, natural disasters, near-death accidents, and other such circumstances that trigger extreme responses of the brain. This disorder causes the person to feel frightened of the trauma even long after the triggering event happened, resulting in high levels of stress on the patient. 

Animal-Assisted Therapy & PTSD

Treatment for PTSD is already available in the form of psychotherapy—both cognitive processing and prolonged exposure—which focuses on processing the memory of the traumatic event. Also, another treatment for PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which focuses on the sounds and movements associated with the event. Another therapy is the so-called animal-assisted treatment.

Does Treatment From Sevice Dogs Really Work?

There is more to our dogs than just cute little house pets. They can do wonders in helping PTSD patients on their way to recovery given their inherent traits of being intuitive and easily sensing the emotions of their owners, especially when they are stressed, overwhelmed, or scared – the Animal-assisted Therapy.

AAT Research Reveals Service Dog Therapy Increase Quality Of Life

According to Chalotte Glintborg Ph.D. and co-author,

“A severe mental illness like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known to have psychosocial consequences that can lead to a decreased quality of life. Research in Animal-Assistance Therapy (AAT) has revealed that the presence of a dog can have a positive effect on health, e.g., increase the quality of life and lessen depression and anxiety.”

A man supported by an animal-assisted therapy dog
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Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs

Here are five characteristics of PTSD service dogs, the so-called animal-assisted therapy, which allows them to do the fantastic job of helping you through your recovery: 

The Protective Nature of Service Dogs

It is in a dog’s inherent nature that they are protective of their kind, and when they get familiar with you as their owner, they treat you as a member of their pack already. PTSD animal-assisted therapy service dogs were trained to focus their attention on their owners round the clock, so you are ascertained that they will drop everything should they hear you in need.

Such therapy enables the service dogs to be trained to call for help immediately, should any panic attack occur.  “Dogs have an uncanny ability to sense danger or “threats” before they present themselves. There have been documented cases of dogs becoming activated before a natural disaster strikes, such as an earthquake or bad storm,” John D. Moore, PhD wrote.

animal-assisted therapy dogs were trained to focus on their owners.
Source: pixabay.com 

Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs For Relaxation

Wonderfully, service dogs do provide amazing tons of emotional support for you as owner by making you feel good and lifting your mood. The look on their eyes, the tap from their hands, and the cuddling from their heads and neck all have the effect of increasing a PTSD patient’s happy hormones, building trust, and easing paranoia. In many instances, the presence of service dogs has proven to allow patients to get better sleep at night.  

Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs: Acceptance

What makes service dogs good companions, is that, unlike humans, they aren’t judgmental at all. They wouldn’t mind if you are disabled, stressed, with PTSD, or regularly anxious—they would be there with you.  

They would keep you company day in, day out. As they remain their eye and focus on you, you can feel more secure knowing that some “buddy” cares for you, without any grudges, full-time. 

Animal-assisted therapy dogs were trained to call for help immediately.
Source: pixabay.com

Affectionate Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs  

The remarkable thing about such therapy particularly with PTSD service dogs, or any dog, is that they have this way of drawing you out from isolation even if you try to resist them at the start. They keep bugging you and showing you affection until your heart melts down in empathy. This show of affection is particularly helpful for PTSD patients to overcome emotional weakness or numbness and eventually be able to process traumatic events accordingly.  

Animal-Assisted Therapy Dogs: Outdoors 

Dogs surely love running outside under the heat of the morning sun, picking up the Frisbee you threw and going back to you with full excitement, or just swimming around the pool in the cool of the day. As they do these things they usually love to do, they encourage you to go out in the process. As therapy dogs, they prompt you to enjoy the world as it is and appreciate what nature has to offer, outside of your comfort zone. 

animal-assisted therapy dog showing affection
Source: pixabay.com

Conclusion On Service Dog Treatment Approach

More and more people are benefiting from this therapy. “Our pets can be an additional source of support when we are struggling with emotional problems,’ Tracy Asamoah M.D. says.

Embrace Therapy Service Dogs…

Interacting with therapy dogs even just once a week enables a patient to reduce anxiety and stress levels, as well as the need for sleep medication, by half. Indeed, animal-assisted therapy dogs are worth more than what we can ever think of about them. We can only thank them for doing farther than what normal human companions can ever do.  

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