Evidence that Dogs Help People to Recover their Mental Health

Updated: May 2

Dr Neha Sharma, a Research Scientist, is helping us to submit Abstracts and Research Papers for Conferences worldwide to provide evidence that RECOVERY Assistance Dogs can help people to recover from Mental Health problems. We have been accepted to give detailed presentations about Dog Assisted Interventions at three Conferences:

12-13 September World Congress on Eating Disorders, Nutrition and Mental Health in Philadelphia, USA

10-11 November Euro -Global Psychiatrist Meeting in Alicante, Spain.

5-6 December 3rd International Conference on Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine in Dubai.

This is really exciting as it will prove that dogs can help Survivors to recover from Mental Health problems and set them free. We need to find some funding so that we can go to these events so we are applying to SCAS (Society Companion Animals Studies) for this. If anyone would like to donate to help us in this work or to sponsor me at the Parallel London walk (see details below) please would you donate on our website www.RECOVERYAssistanceDogs.org.uk

The research brief:


Researching Recovery Assistance Dogs (RAD) for mental well-being

Evidence is emerging that demonstrates improvement in anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness and associated physiological change following animal assisted interventions, which has important implication for the use of such therapy with personnel suffering from mental health conditions.

We are using evidence based research with combined practical experience that has included psychological assessments, specialists in dog behaviour and trainings and also from personal experience to gain a better understanding of the way in which partnership with a RAD can become valuable adjuvant to conventional therapy.

Our research includes multiple measures of symptoms associated with Mental Health illnesses.

Research Priorities

Building on the programs of research described in the RECOVERY's Strategic Plan, past scientific accomplishments, and current research priorities, four areas of scientific focus are highlighted in our priorities:

Promoting Personalized Mental Healthcare Programs

Promoting Mental Health and Preventing Illness

Improving Quality of Life for Individuals with Mental Health issues

The Science of Compassion

The future research directions of these focus areas were shaped through the Innovative initiative, an initiative by RECOVERY to encourage new thinking and creativity from the broader scientific community and general public.

Completed Research Projects

1. Impact of Dog-assisted therapy on self-efficacy and coping behaviour of people with mental illness: retrospective cohort study

Abstract: The benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) for mental health conditions have been well-documented, but there is lack of scientific studies using dogs as therapeutic agents for psychiatric patients. The present study was conducted to examine dog assisted intervention on self-efficacy, coping ability among patients with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses. During the intervention period, significant increase in the self-efficacy and coping behaviour in the participants were reported. At follow up, this change remained stable.

Retrospective study results show that RAD may have positive influences on self-efficacy and coping ability among psychiatric patients with long lasting psychiatric symptoms.

Presentation in World congress on eating disorders, nutrition and mental health held in Philadelphia, USA; September 12-13, 2016

2. A retrospective quasi-experimental study of dog assisted intervention for patients with persistent mental illness

Abstract: This study examines whether changes in negative beliefs about oneself, others, and the world occur as a result of support group intervention aimed at preventing the development of chronic mental conditions and further explores whether changes in negative beliefs during early intervention mediate long-term changes in psychology and functioning.

Following RAD, Negative beliefs improved from pre intervention to post intervention. Moreover, for the brief intervention, changes in perceptions of self and one's safety mediated longer-term changes in trauma-related symptoms. The present results highlight the potential importance of changes in negative beliefs in long-term adjustment with the RAD.

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