BROOKSVILLE, Fla., Nov. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — K9 Partners for Patriots recently participated in one of the first studies designed to understand what spouses or partners think about service dog programs for their veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Conducted by researchers from the University of Central Florida’s School of Social Work, this is the first known study that specifically sought to understand the impacts of a service dog training program from the spouse or partner’s perspective.  Fifteen spouses/partners of veterans who completed K9 Partners for Patriots’ extensive service dog training program took part in the study that involved online assessments and taking part in in-depth interviews.

Participants consistently reported that:

  • Their veteran ‘greatly benefited’ from being in the program.
  • The program provided their veteran with supportive relationships that helped them reconnect with family members and others who care about them.
  • The program helped their veterans to experience less PTSD symptoms and improved their relational functioning.   

Regarding their relationships with other veterans in the program, one spouse said, “It (K9 Partners for Patriots) allowed him to see that he wasn’t the only one having these difficulties.”

Additionally, the lead researcher for the study, UCF’s Jim Whitworth, PhD, LCSW, said: “Our team formulated a model that emerged from participant responses. The model reflects that veterans and their partners build resiliency to deal with the initial and persistent ongoing challenges resulting from military-related and secondary trauma exposure by forming ‘a relational bridge’ to help them to bounce back.”

Whitworth added: “That relational bridge is comprised of three core components:  

  1. Forming & maintaining an attachment bond with their service dog
  2. Experiencing camaraderie with fellow veterans & others in these programs
  3. Having a close and committed connection with their spouse / partner

Many participants made comments such as the following: “With his dog he has been more able to come out and socialize even with just the family, instead of isolating.”

“The findings of this study,” Whitworth noted, “help me and other researchers to identify the most helpful components of these programs and they help justify their use with other veterans.”

UCF: Founded in 1963 with a commitment to expanding opportunity and demanding excellence, the University of Central Florida develops the talent needed to advance the prosperity and welfare of our society. With more than 69,000 students, UCF is one of the nation’s largest universities, offering more than 220 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations in Central Florida and online. For more information, visit ucf.edu

K9 Partners for Patriots https://k9partnersforpatriots.com is a nonprofit 501c3 organization based in Brooksville, FL. Its mission is to give veterans and active military a second chance at life by empowering those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) through the experience of training and caring for their own service dog.

SOURCE K9 Partners for Patriots

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