Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Animal-Assisted Therapy

I have spent my entire life with a dog beside me; it soothed me and encouraged me when I was emotionally down. “If you do not possess at least one dog, there may not be anything fundamentally faulty, but there may be something profoundly incorrect with your life.” The fur of the dog has become a part of me; when it touches my skin, glimmers of hope spark in me. Hence, animal-assisted therapy is vital in bridling persons with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Having the dog next to me, feeling the fur and paws assisted me in coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by reducing mental disease and maintaining mental wellness (Altschuler 10). In this way, I felt sympathetic for those who have PTSD and do not have pets. For example, I have a dog and hence exhibit emotions of peace and optimism, showing fewer indicators of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I burst into tears when I lost my dog for a few days. I cried day and night, and it was the most traumatic and emotionally devastating experience I had ever been through. The situation made me vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a kind of mental illness that develops after exposure to or witnessing a terrible incident. Adults and children may both have post-traumatic stress disorder. Specific demographics, such as military firefighters, personnel, police officers, refugees, first responders, and those living in conflict zones are more prone to encounter traumatic incidents (Altschuler 10). As a result, such susceptible individuals need therapy to alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Regrettably, PTSD does not have a particular cure; nonetheless, utilizing Animal-Assisted Therapy may be critical in assisting with the disorder’s alleviation.

Walking my dog down the streets gave me a feeling of relief and relaxation; the action was like a form of therapy lesson. Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is described as objective-directed and organized treatments that actively integrate or incorporate animals in health, education, and human services to achieve therapeutic benefits in people. Animal-assisted intervention for persons with PTSD symptoms considerably involves therapeutic interventions and less structured activities with animals (Hediger et al.). The session entails a special kind of animal-assisted treatment, incorporating an animal into manualized PTSD psychotherapy, commonly known as animal-assisted psychotherapy. It further involves alternative intervention techniques that combine human-animal contact and are less particular to psychotherapeutic.

Feeding my dog makes me feel like I am with one of my flesh and blood. Animal-Assisted Therapy builds on the already-existing unique link between humans and animals. Therefore, it can positively affect one with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ultimately benefit from direct engagement with a friendly pet. “Although animals had always fascinated me, my time with baboons and chimps in Africa greatly enhanced my awareness of the individuality of each animal I encounter” (Smuts). This shows how fundamental Animal-Assisted Therapy is to individuals who own pets. Furthermore, it may assist in the reduction of blood pressure as well as the overall improvement of cardiovascular health.

Employing AAT as a treatment for PTSD has enhanced positive outcomes. Consequently, I experienced the advantages of animal-assisted therapy that was more beneficial than harmful. As AAT becomes more prevalent, the pro’s of this therapy are increasingly recognized. In particular, the session helps in cardiovascular, mental, and intellectual importance that have been revealed, and as AAT’s possible effects on the clinic experience and results (Shelef et al. 395). For example, research shows that dogs can read human faces and pick up stress signals. They make excellent partners, especially those who require additional emotional or physical support.

When I walk my neighborhood, I see many people walking their pets. Numerous studies illustrate that more than two in three U.S. homes own a pet, and the pets are more than simply creatures (Rowan and Kartal 68). In addition, humans and animals share a particular affinity. According to Rowan and Kartal, more than 50% of pet owners think of them as part of the family (68). A poll of dog owners by the American Animal Hospital Association revealed that 40% of married ladies stated they got more emotional comfort from their dog than their spouse or children (Rowan and Kartal 68). That notion may not be farfetched, as scientists have proved that dogs sense human emotions

Dogs are playful, and when I play fetch with my dog, it runs and barks, making me jovial and happy. Thus, it is beneficial for social contact among children with increased social behaviors, autism spectrum disorder, and decreased irritation and hostility in people with dementia. Nevertheless, it exhibits a diagnosis characterized by a decrease in patients with depression and elevated emotional wellness, including reduced fear and anxiety. Individuals who have PTSD experience emotional numbness that makes them sombre and dull. However, the presence of an animal has been shown to trigger pleasant emotions and feelings of security.

Animals, particularly dogs, assist PTSD patients based on the person’s unique requirements. For instance, I could not leave the house without the company of my dog, who may provide confidence and a sense of protection. Based on experts, dogs have helped assist sexual assault victims in their rehabilitation because they are ideally adapted to help people overcome trust and relationship difficulties. In addition, it is stated that dogs are an excellent approach for a person to practice managing their stress levels and tone of voice. The research strongly supports the general usefulness of dogs, and evidence indicates that people living with PTSD who own a dog not only sleep better but also have greater levels of oxytocin and dopamine and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Nevertheless, Oxytocin (OT) is engaged in diverse social connections, ranging from parent-child bonding to “companionship.” Dogs are an attractive animal to study the relationship between the oxytocinergic system and social connections since they form preference relationships with both their species and humans. The oxytocinergic system has been implicated in controlling such inter-specific links, with both dogs and their masters exhibiting a rise in OT amounts in the aftermath of socio-positive encounters. In this way, interaction with animals boosts oxytocin levels and promotes physical activity, such as alleviating blood pressure. Moreover, it induces the enhancement of cardiovascular health, lowers the number of drugs specific individuals require and slows breathing in folks who are nervous. Furthermore, it promotes well-being, reduces worry, and develops a sense of security.

Thanks to my dog, I grew very sensitive to people and their behavior and emotions. Moreover, dogs can comprehend a large number of the words humans speak, but my dog excels at deciphering my tone of voice, body language, and gestures (Signal et al. 84). And, like any true human friend, a faithful dog will look into one’s eyes to assess their emotional condition and attempt to comprehend your thoughts and feelings. Pets, particularly dogs and cats may help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as loneliness, promote physical activity and. Taking care of an animal may help youngsters develop a sense of security and training. A pet can provide genuine delight and unconditional affection.

An organization such as PAWS for People (Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services, or PAWS) is a non-profit company dedicated to delivering therapeutic consultations to anybody in the neighborhood who might profit from contact with a well-trained, compassionate animal. The organization distinguishes itself from other pet therapy services because of its focus on offering tailored therapeutic encounters for every person who visits them. Because of their rigorous criteria for training and testing dogs and cats, the organization can ensure that every therapy unit is perfectly adequate to fulfill the unique demands of the various clients.

Unfortunately, AAT may not be beneficial in all instances, animal therapy may be beneficial for persons suffering from certain health conditions, and it may not be appropriate for everyone. In the case of these folks, animal therapy with a dog may do much more damage than benefit them. Some individuals may be allergic to the animals usually used in treatment, which is understandable. Many individuals, for example, are sensitive to the dander that comes from a dog’s shedding. It is possible that some people are just uncomfortable with or terrified of the animals. They may decide against this treatment since it would add to their stress levels. A human may develop a strong emotional attachment to an animal relatively rapidly in rare situations. This emotion may manifest itself as possessiveness or a decline in a person’s contentment with their treatment.

In addition, therapy animals that visit hospitals and other long-term care institutions may be carriers of specific viruses or diseases. There is a possibility that they may transfer these diseases to other people, making complete testing for every animal necessary. Moreover, the hazards may include the possibility of an allergic response or an attack and concerns about safety and cleanliness.

Therefore, to effectively administer an animal-assisted therapy session, it is prudent to provide an all-inclusive supplemental treatment. Similarly, it should not be used as primary therapy for any ailment and should only be used to improve or complement other forms of treatment. Thus, it is not intended to be a substitute for other types of treatment, such as psychotherapy or physical therapy. On the other hand, this kind of treatment may not be suitable for everyone. Animal therapy is an alternative for those who do not react well to it or do not want to attempt it. They may inquire about other possibilities. These solutions will differ based on the individual’s medical condition.

In summary, AAIs appears to be beneficial in lowering PTSD symptomatology and depression for patients with PTSD disorders. Further, AAIs lead to equivalent outcomes to typical PTSD treatment for patients with PTSD symptoms who prefer waiting for AAI. Animal therapy entails frequent sessions with professionally trained animals and their caregivers. It seeks to assist individuals in managing both physical and mental health conditions. Doctors or mental health professionals may propose and provide animal therapy for various diseases, with different aims in mind for each client. Some individuals may not appreciate animal therapy or have other reasons to avoid it, and they may pick alternate treatments. Anybody seeking animal therapy should explore the procedure and how they may profit from it with a doctor or mental health practitioner.

Works Cited

Altschuler, Eric L. “Animal-Assisted Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Lessons from ‘Case Reports’ in Media Stories.” Military Medicine, vol. 183, no. 1-2. 2017, pp. 11–13.

Hediger, Karin, et al. “Effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Interventions for Children and Adults with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” European Journal of Psychotraumatology, vol. 12, no. 1. 2021, pp. 1–22.

Rowan, Andrew, and Tamara Kartal. “Dog Population & Dog Sheltering Trends in the United States of America.” Animals, vol. 8, no. 5, 2018, p. 68.

Shelef, Assaf, et al. “Equine Assisted Therapy for Patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series Study.” Military Medicine, vol. 184, no. 9-10, 2019, pp. 394–99.

Signal, Tania, et al. “Going to the Dogs: A Quasi-Experimental Assessment of Animal Assisted Therapy for Children who Have Experienced Abuse.” Applied developmental science vol. 21, no. 2. 2017, pp. 81-93.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Animal-Assisted Therapy." September 17, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Animal-Assisted Therapy." September 17, 2023.