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    Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic welcomes new therapy dog

    Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic welcomes new therapy dog

    Photo By Sgt. William Begley | (Left to right) The 3rd Combat Aviation command team of Command Sgt. Maj. George M....... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. William Begley 

    3rd Combat Aviation Brigade

    HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. – Doctors and patients alike are ecstatic to see the new face of Zoey the therapy dog at the Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic on Hunter Army Airfield. Zoey recently got her credentials and became a licensed therapy dog for the clinic, which treats many behavioral health disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
    Dr. Tim Fortney, clinical psychologist, is Zoey’s owner and practices at the clinic.

    “Zoey provides animal assisted therapy, which is kind of an emotion regulation tool for our patients,” Fortney said. “She makes it a lot easier for people to come in. She breaks a lot of stigmas. People who wouldn’t necessarily want to talk to Dr. Fortney will gladly come play with Zoey for an hour.”

    Fortney also said that Zoey provides a healthy distraction during some of the deeper, more prolonged exposure work that the clinic provides for Soldiers. A lot of Soldiers find it hard to maintain focus while remembering some of the traumatic events that caused their PTSD, but find it easy to focus on Zoey. She helps them to get through the therapy and get on to healing their lives.

    “When you think about PTSD two of the issues people struggle with are trust and safety,” Fortney said.

    “Having a relationship and forming a relationship with an animal is all about trust. Zoey picks up on that. So as a Soldier develops the trusting relationship with her it facilitates the trusting relationship in therapy in general.”

    Fortney spoke about an experience he had with a Soldier and Zoey in the clinic. The soldier’s name is withheld for anonymity.

    A Soldier was really struggling to get through a trauma related issue and was having a very difficult time reliving such an intense memory. Zoey just naturally picked up on the feelings the Soldier was having and walked over and put her head on the Soldier’s knee.

    As the Soldier began crying and re-feeling the emotions and talking about the event, he started petting Zoey as a natural response to her show of sympathy.

    “It was the first time the Soldier ever got all the way through their trauma memory,” Fortney said. “It was one of the coolest moments I have ever seen. I don’t know if the Soldier would have been able to get through it if Zoey wasn’t there. She provided just that extra little bit of comfort that allowed them to deal with that memory.”

    Many people find it naturally soothing to have a dog around. Studies have shown that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, make you exercise more, and some dogs even boost your mood. Other studies say that having a dog as a pet makes you more approachable socially.

    Zoey is a mix of Labrador and other as yet to be identified breeds. Fortney gave his explanation on just what kind of dog she is.

    “Everybody has their theory about Zoey, I just think she’s a good mutt,” Fortney said laughing.



    Date Taken: 02.11.2016
    Date Posted: 02.11.2016 11:53
    Story ID: 188590
    Location: SAVANNAH, GA, US 

    Web Views: 127
    Downloads: 0