National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Hero’s Companion is excited to announce that we will be working with the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy on a research study assessing how psychiatric service dogs aid in the treatment of psychological trauma in veterans.

Leading the research study will be Dr. Sergey Bogdanov, Deputy Head of the newly created Centre for Conflict Studies and Psychoanalysis at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. He is also an expert to several international organizations, including the United Nations Populations Fund, United Nations Development Programme, and the World Health Organization.

As a recent McMaster University study noted, research on the use of service dogs is a quickly expanding field of inquiry given the growing body of evidence suggesting that dogs, and animals generally, contribute positively to managing mental health problems. Gaps in the literature do exist though, such as the disconnect between research on the use of animals in health care and research on the ongoing processes involved in their training and placement.

According to the study: To inform and develop effective programs and policies it is necessary that further research be conducted on the complexity of psychiatric service dog use in managing PTSD among veterans. Understanding this complexity will require ongoing research that is closely tied to the lives of veterans using dogs, the programs that provide them, the caregivers involved, and institutional authorities and decision makers.

The Hero’s Companion project is uniquely positioned to address these gaps in the literature while also significantly contributing to available research. Members of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy research team will be observing the training program right from its inception, and as such will receive important insights into training methods, best practices, and guidelines taught by the Canadian trainers. Close co-operation between researchers, medical professionals, trainers, and veterans and their support systems will allow for a multi-dimensional understanding of the entire process involved in pairing a psychiatric service dog with a veteran.

This long-term research project will actively monitor the various stages of the program as well as its effect on veterans suffering from PTSD. It is believed that insights gained from this research will help to inform policy decisions, best practices, and program development in Ukraine and internationally.

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