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How Are Service Dogs for Adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Integrated with Rehabilitation in Denmark? A Case Study

By Charlotte Glintborg, Tia GB Hansen

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Category Journal Articles

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-Assisted Therapy (AAT) has revealed that the presence of a dog can have a positive effect on health, e.g., increase quality of life and lessen depression and anxiety. However, canine companionship is not a catch-all solution. Previous research has revealed methodological limitations that prohibit any clear conclusions, as well as a sparsity of critical reflection in anecdotal reports and case studies, which means that more research is needed to contextualize the findings. There has been an increasing interest in animal-assisted intervention in Denmark in recent years. Previously, authorities could only grant service dogs to adults with physical disabilities, but now this has been extended to adults with mental illnesses. Therefore, it has become important to explore how these service dogs are incorporated into rehabilitation practices in mental health, and how rehabilitation professionals react to the use of service dogs. This paper is a case study of a person who suffers from PTSD. This study examines how the person describes the significance of having a dog during her rehabilitation process, and how this is integrated with existing rehabilitation. The case study has been developed based on a semi-structured interview. A Thematic Content analysis was used to reveal dominant patterns and categories. This study revealed a lack of communication and collaboration between public administration (social service), service dog providers, health rehabilitation services, and providers of psychological treatment. It also revealed limited access for the dog to public services, limited success in incorporating the dog into goal-directed treatment and rehabilitation procedures, a strongly felt emotional support from the dog, and a perceived stigma by having the dog wearing a vest with he words “mentally ill” printed on it.


Spencer CW Au

Date 2017
Publication Title Animals
Volume 7
Issue 5
Pages 33
Publisher MDPI AG
Location of Publication Basel, Switzerland
DOI 10.3390/ani7050033
Language English
Additional Language English
  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animal roles
  3. Dogs
  4. Health
  5. Mammals
  6. Pet ownership
  7. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  8. Psychiatry and psychology
  9. Service animals