Development and testing of virtual reality exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in active duty service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, Train A Dog, Save a Warrior (TADSAW) commenced operations in San Antonio, TX. Innovative in design and method, TADSAW set out to mitigate the effects of PTSD by pairing current and former military personnel with self-trained service dogs. While numerous therapies already existed for PTSD at the time of TADSAW’s inception, most were unsatisfactory on account of their cost, side effects, or lack of empirical support. In an effort to address these limitations and simultaneously evaluate the efficacy of the TADSAW model, the author recruited fifty-four individuals from TADSAW facilities across the United States for participation in this study. Study participants completed the PCL-M, an instrument that measures PTSD severity among military personnel, either at program enrollment (n = 36) or completion (n = 14), with isolated exceptions (n = 3). PCL-M scores for program completers were, on average, 11.99 points (p = .00024) lower than those obtained from program enrollees, a decrease of 22.9%. These findings are compared against those obtained by McLay et al. (2012) for benchmarking and contextual purposes. Significance of results and recommendations for future research are discussed.