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Animal-Assisted Therapy for Military Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: An Investigation on the Positive Effects of Attachment and Affiliation Behaviors

By Sara Miele

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Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in people who have experienced a traumatic event (nimh.nih.gov, 2016). Because PTSD is a chronic disorder, it is associated with impaired quality of life (Stern et al., 2013). A specific population at high risk for developing PTSD is military veterans. It is estimated over half a million military veterans suffer from PTSD (Stern et al., 2013). Although there are psychological services and treatments for veterans, many do not seek help because fear of the negative stigma associated with mental illness (Lanning & Krenek, 2013). Recently, efforts have been made to implement veteran friendly treatment in hopes to reduce barriers to treatment (Lanning & Krenek, 2013). The use of Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) was first documented in 1792 (Pandzic, n.d.). Since then, there has been ongoing research documenting the positive effects of AAT with physical and mental illnesses. The aim of this paper is to explore the benefits of AAT for military veterans with PTSD and investigate the positive effects of attachment and affiliation behaviors. Research has shown AAT improves quality of life (Lanning & Krenek, 2013) (Beck et al., 2012) decreases PTSD symptoms (Earles et al., 2015) (Stern et al., 2013), and decreases depressive symptoms (Penderson et al., 2012) (Barker et al., 2003). Furthermore, the interaction between humans and canines is associated with an increase in human oxytocin levels (Nagasawa et al.,2008) (Odendaal & Meintjes, 2003).

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 14 April 2016
Format PDF
URL https://scholar.dominican.edu/scw/scw2016/AllConference/15/
Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Dogs
  3. Mental illness
  4. Military
  5. open access
  6. Oxytocin
  7. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  8. veterans
Badges
  1. open access