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HOPE is a 4-Legged Word: How Service Dogs Can Help Veterans Suffering from Combat-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Holly Katherine Robinson

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Abstract

As the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues to increase among our veterans returning from the War on Terror, the need for alternative treatment options is becoming more critical. One such alternative is the use of psychiatric service dogs specially trained to assist those living with PTSD. However, little empirical research has been conducted to support the legitimacy of this treatment option. This present study sought to explore the benefits that could be gained from the use of a service dog to treat PTSD by exploring relevant literature. The training the dogs receive as well as the possible problems with utilizing this treatment option are discussed. To deepen the implication of the study, a summative content analysis was performed on ten testimonies from veterans who have received a service dog to ameliorate the symptoms of their PTSD. Many subthemes were extracted through this process, but the dominant theme was one of hope and gaining a new "leash" on life. Although this present study did not provide empirical evidence to support this treatment option, it did allow for implications to be drawn from the analysis of the testimonies and provided possible reasons why service dogs are able to help relieve the symptoms of this disorder.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Pages 75
Department University Honors Program
URL https://digitalcommons.gardner-webb.edu/undergrad-honors/12/
Language English
University Gardner-Webb University
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Dogs
  3. Mammals
  4. open access
  5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  6. Service animals
  7. veterans
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  1. open access