Pets & PTSD: How the Human-Animal Bond Complements Treatment for Veterans

At the Cohen Clinic, creating access to care really drives the mission of what we do each day,” Blain said. “We know that 30 percent of service members and veterans returning from deployment meet the criteria for a mental health condition, but only half of this group receive care. These are treatable conditions, and the faster we get ahead of them, the less they become entrenched.”

Although the Cohen Clinic does not directly provide animal assisted therapy, it does strive to create a tailored, individualized treatment plan for all patients — and that treatment plan sometimes includes animal support.

“Our treatment plans are really driven by preference,” Blain said. “In addition to an evidence-based treatment such as cogitative processing therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, we aim to integrate whatever each person is oriented toward into their treatment plan. People are really aware of the power of animals, so I’ve had several patients come in and ask us to connect them with an organization that provides animal assisted therapy or service animals.”

The Cohen Clinic has a number of partnerships that enable its providers to connect patients with animal-assisted therapies, when appropriate. “While there is really good research and evidence to show the positive impact animals can have with patients, there is not specific evidence to support animal-assisted therapy as the main approach for treating disorders we see at the clinic, like PTSD. But this doesn’t mean animals don’t have an incredible impact. We view these types of therapies as complementary — they can be woven into the care approach we take with patients,” Blain said.


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