If you have been keeping up with our blog, you know that we talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a lot. The Main reason that we discuss PTSD so often is because we tailor our courses to first responders, military professionals and corporate leaders, a large population of which have seen or experienced symptoms of PTSD in their careers. PTSD is an extremely tough mental health issue to overcome but you can combat PTSD with peer support and stress management, as well as… dogs.
As time progresses, more research is done on PTSD with the goal of finding ways to either fully cure or reduce the symptoms and effects that the mental health disorder has on people. One noteworthy thing that has been found to reduce the stress of those who suffer from PTSD is the close use of service dogs and emotional support animals.
In today’s blog post, we are going to discuss service dogs and emotional support animals, what they are, and how they can provide PTSD support to first responders, military personnel, and anyone else that may be affected by PTSD.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
Emotional support animals, most commonly but not limited to dogs, that establish an emotional connection and companionship with someone that is suffering from a mental or emotional illness. One of the reasons that emotional support animals are extremely common, and becoming more common, is that it is extremely easy to register an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals are commonly used for comforting people that are suffering from psychiatric disabilities like depression or anxiety. Someone seeking an emotional support animal must be able to verify their disability.
Emotional Support Animal Training
Emotional support animals are extremely beneficial in helping those suffering from verifiable conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disabilities, but they do not, in fact, require any training. Because of this, emotional support animals are good for the more easily manageable psychiatric disorders, but may not provide adequate PTSD support for people with severe cases due to their limited training. Emotional support animals also have certain limitations restricting them from being able to enter buildings like service dogs, creating a void in treatment for someone who needs the companionship.
What is a Service dog?
A service dog is a dog that is specially and individually trained to do work and perform tasks for people with disabilities. Service dogs can perform a multitude of tasks like guiding someone that has lost their vision, alerting people when someone has a seizure, reminding someone to take their medication, fetch or pick up items for people with mobility issues, as well as provide PTSD support to people by calming them down when they are having an episode of high-stress or anxiety.
Due to the specialized training of service dogs, it is important to see them as a working dog rather than thinking of it as a pet. Since these dogs are thought of as working dogs instead of pets, they are allowed to accompany the disabled person to places that pets aren’t allowed, places like businesses, nonprofits, and government buildings.
Service Dog Training
Service dog training is no simple feat. It can take up to 2 years to train a service dog because the dogs have to be ready to assist people that cannot assist themselves. These service dogs are often bred specifically to be service dogs, with breeders selecting loyal and intelligent bloodlines from historically good service breeds like retrievers and Labradors.
After entering the training process, upwards of 50 percent of the dogs will not pass the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test. Service dogs are highly trained and professional working dogs and they are extremely beneficial to helping people that are suffering from disabilities, as well as providing PTSD support.
Why Can Animals Help Those Suffering From PTSD?
Animals can significantly affect the lives of people that interact with them, especially for people with disabilities. Animals can provide emotional comfort for people with psychiatric disabilities like anxiety and depression, while also providing physical comfort like holding a seizing person down so that they do not hurt themselves during their episode. While emotional support animals and service animals are extremely different when considering their level of training, both types of dog can drastically improve the life of someone with PTSD by providing them with PTSD support.
As with any other mental disorder, there are both mild and severe cases of PTSD that require their own specific needs to be tailored to. For example, someone that has a less-serious or late-in-treatment case of PTSD would likely benefit most from an emotional support animal that can calm them down when they feel anxious or depressed, while someone with a more severe case of PTSD might benefit most from a service dog that can perform tasks like reminding them to take medication, keeping them away from situations that might cause a flashback, and patrolling the perimeter of the room when them feels anxious.
Obviously, there is a wide spectrum of symptoms caused by PTSD and they affect different people in a different way, but animals like emotional support animals and service dogs are excellent at providing PTSD support for their owners.
How Can You Help? Sign up For a Peer Support Course!
Emotional support dogs and service dogs are extremely valuable assets that provide PTSD support to those that feel the effects of the mental disorder, but they aren’t the only ones that can help. At Peer Support Central, we offer a plethora of support courses that can be extremely beneficial and informational to you so that you may be able to provide PTSD support to someone that you know or love.
Critical incident stress management, military stress, critical incident counseling, military training, and first responder training are just a few of the wonderful courses that we offer here at Peer Support Central. Sign up for one of our courses today so that someday you may be able to provide someone with PTSD support.
Contact us if you have any questions about any of our courses.