Using exposure therapy and service dogs to treat PTSD: pragmatic case studies

Cara Genbauffe
The purpose of this exploratory study is to learn about the experiences of licensed psychotherapists who have provided exposure-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy to U.S. Military Veterans who had a psychiatric service dog (PSD) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during treatment. This topic is an important area for research because no prior studies are available regarding the provision of cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD to Veterans with a PSD, while the popularity of PSDs is
more » ... sing. Further, based on theories regarding the effectiveness of such therapies and concepts of "safety behaviors" and "coping skills," it is unclear how a PSD might affect a Veteran's recovery from PTSD. Thus, the goal of this study was to learn more about if and how therapists integrate PSDs into cognitive-behavioral therapies, any other ways the PSDs were used, and general thoughts or recommendations regarding the use of PSDs for PTSD. Three licensed therapists who provided at least two sessions of an exposure-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy to one or more Veterans with a psychiatric service dog for PTSD during therapy completed an online survey about their experiences. This survey included demographic questions, the Pet Attitude Scale—Modified, and open-ended questions. Descriptive statistics were conducted on the Pet Attitude Scale—Modified and numerical responses to the demographic questions, and Fishman's case study analysis techniques (2005, 2013) were used to analyze qualitative data from the surveys.
doi:10.7282/t3-m26c-4g70 fatcat:ascqlbgkivgg3o6sbei6letepe