As some of you may know, The Bully’s Trap is dedicated to Rollie, a magnificent Weimaraner dog whose companionship helped get me though some of the most difficult parts of my life.
But I’m not the only person to have a Rollie dramatically improve mental health and quality of life.
Canine Therapy, or Animal Assisted Therapy, is gaining attention as a safe, effective way of reducing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What’s the connection to bullying? PTSD isn’t just suffered by war veterans or crime victims: 40-60% of adult bullying victims suffer from high levels of PTSD symptoms. In severe cases, PTSD can stop the patient from being able to function day-to-day, and lead to the breakup of family units or suicide.
Here are four reasons why Canine Therapy is on the rise:
#1 – It works for almost everyone
Canine therapy isn’t a niche treatment for only special cases. According to the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, 82% of PTSD patients reported a reduction in symptoms when working with a Service Dog. Even better, 40% reported being able to reduce their dosage of psychiatric medication.
#2 – It allows patients to trust
Trust is one of the biggest issues for PTSD sufferers. Sometimes all mental energy can be spent guarding against the type of incident that triggered the illness. A service dog providing unconditional love reminds the victim that their environment isn’t hostile, which then allows the patient to expand that trust to other relationships and areas of life.
#3 – It teaches patients to show affection again
A common symptom of PTSD is to totally withdraw into oneself to the point where patients report being unable to even show affection to their kids, or communicate with people effectively. But the need for owners to train and praise their Service Dog helps them break through their emotional isolation, and teaches them to communicate in a non-aggressive manner.
#4 – It actively prevents bad situations
Canines are trained to detect and prevent potentially damaging or frightening behaviors from the owner. For example, if the owner has a panic attack, the canine can lie on his or her chest until the attack passes. Horrible nightmares are common among PTSD patients, so the dog will be trained to lick the face of the owner to induce a wake-up. Canines can also be trained to sense when the owner is in a stressful situation (like a big crowd), then lead the owner out of it.
Do you know someone who suffers from PTSD? How have they coped with it?