Animal Assisted Therapy

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Title
For my personal topic of interest for this assignment, I have chosen to look at my interest area of animal assisted therapies and the military in more detail. Animal assisted therapies can be discussed using a variety of different names. To simplify this for our current discussion I will be narrowing this topic. For this discussion we will be looking at CAM techniques (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) as our overarching umbrella, under that topic we will narrow to animal-assisted therapies.
State of Science
Animal Assisted therapy is the intentional use of animals as part of the therapeutic process in treating an individual (Nimer & Lundahl, 2007). Animal assisted therapies have shown promise for a variety of clinical applications
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The use of animals in the treatment of mental health has been slower than other fields of health in identifying the potential benefits of animals to mental health conditions. As this field has taken longer to recognize the potential benefits of animal assisted therapies its potential applications are less researched at this point in time (Walsh, 2009). Animal assisted therapies and their uses for military population include medical conditions and mental health applications. The uses of animals in the military throughout history have included a variety of different applications, including but not limited to, “cavalry horses, sentry dogs, carrier pigeons, and unit mascots, or unofficially as a soldier’s battle companion” (Chumley, 2012). The use of animals in animal-assisted therapy within the United States’ Military is still in its early stages. It was only in December of 2007 when The Acting Surgeon General approved a request of the 85th Medical Detachment (COSC) to send 2 dogs to Iraq (Ritchie & Amaker, 2012). The use of these animals in this particular application is new to the military community. As veterans are returning to home with a variety of different health issues,…show more content…
These studies show that after a positive interaction with these animals the participants show an increase of oxytocin in both their blood and urine levels (Yount, Olmert, & Lee, 2012). A study looking at the connectedness of oxytocin and the human stress response shows promise that this type of natural oxytocin production, caused by the interactions of these participants and animals can lead to better control of PTSD symptoms and mild TBI complications (Strathearn, Fonagy, Amico, & Montague, 2009). Although there are many statements by military members on the effectiveness of their animals in treating seizures and PTSD episodes, it is “not usable as a basis for designing protocols or justifying the commitment of resources” (Ritchie & Amaker, 2012). In order to be able to use this research with veterans, “there is a need for scientific data to more fully understand how the human-animal bond can continue to help our service members” (Ritchie & Amaker, 2012). Other studies have attempted to measure the differences between groups of veterans who receive interventions with therapeutic animals but have had too small of a sample size to be of broad practical significance (Beck, Gonzales, Sells, Jones, Reer, and Zhu,
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