"There is no randomized controlled trial whatsoever involving service dogs and mental health conditions," notes Dr. Michael Fallon, VA's chief veterinarian.
It might seem like a no-brainer that service dogs can help people with PTSD, depression, or other mental conditions. Who wouldn't benefit from having a four-legged friend at his side? The idea is hugely popular, admits Fallon. "The public, by and large, is in love with the concept of service dogs."
To date, there is ample evidence on the benefits of service dogs for people with physical disabilities, but very little in the area of mental health.
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"If the Veteran is randomly selected to receive a service dog, he or she travels to the vendor, and the vendor take several dogs and finds out which one will work best for that Veteran. It's based on an interview process prior to the pairing."
Service Dogs Essay - 905 Words - StudyMode
"We hope that eventually some of the specific [service dog] tasks won't be required quite as much. What we usually do in terms of PTSD treatment is exposure-based therapy, where we essentially extinguish the false fear response, so that over time, they won't be as hyper-vigilant. They won't need the sweeping, the checking, the blocking, someone watching their back all the time."
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The theory, she says, is that the dogs "can serve as a bridge to get them past that initial fear. That way, they can get out more and engage in therapy so they can eventually free themselves of that excessive fear response."