APA Annual Convention
On August 9, 2015 Lisa and colleagues presented a symposium on Human-Animal Interactions in Treating Veterans with PTSD at the 2015 American Psychological Association (APA) Annual Convention held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lisa’s presentation outlined the findings from evaluations of two different types of programs that pair veterans and shelter dogs: Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF) and VALOR. SBF is a year-long program in which veterans are matched with a shelter dog. Veterans live with their dogs and train them to perform various types of services designed to help ameliorate PTSD symptoms. In addition, SBF program graduates are asked to mentor new veterans entering the program. VALOR is an eight-week program in which groups of five veterans socialize and train shelter dogs that have been subjects in abuse and/or neglect court cases. Through their work with these dogs, the VALOR program is designed to help veterans gain a sense of self-efficacy, improve self-esteem, learn dog training skills that could be used to gain employment, and receive social support from other veterans. The presentation concluded with a discussion of the differences and similarities in the two program models and preliminary research findings from interviews with veterans from both programs.