Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Research

Published Studies which support the use of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

1999 Barker, S.B. (1999). Therapeutic Aspects of the Human-Companion Animal Interaction. Psychiatric Times, 16.

2001 Bowers & MacDonald; (as cited in Ewing, CA et al, 2007)

Following treatment with EAP a sample of at-risk adolescents, demonstrated a decrease in in depression and an increase in self esteem

2003 MacDonald & Cappo, (as cited in Ewing, CA et al, 2007) 

Following treatment with EAP a sample of at-risk adolescents, demonstrated a decrease in in depression and an increase in self esteem.

2007 Karol J. Applying a traditional individual psychotherapy model to Equine-facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP): theory and method. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2007 Jan;12(1):77-90.

This article emphasizes that many programs utilizing horses in the therapeutic process are not utilizing clinically licensed therapists, and specifically described the ways that the breadth and depth of psychological theory and practice have been applied to the equine assisted approach to become a distinctly compelling milieu. She  discusses how the two therapeutic relationships–that with the clinician, and also with the horse, help to elucidate the inner world of the patient, as well as their interpersonal style. This facilitates  exploration of the intrapersonal and interprersonal worlds on preverbal, nonverbal and verbal levels of experience.

2007 Ewing, C.A., MacDonald, P.M., Taylor, M., Bowers M.J. Equine-facilitated learning for youths with several emotional disorders: A quantitative and qualitative study. Child Youth Care Forum, 36, 59-72.

Case studies were presented that suggested a nine week equine assisted therapy program for at risk youth (ages 10-13) was helpful, but a nine week quantitative assessment failed to reveal any significant changes. The authors felt that the failure to find statistical significance could have been related to  the short duration of the program, the severity of psychosocial stressors the youth were experiencing during the study, and the severity of the youth’s disorders.

2007 Klontz, B.T., Bivens, A., Leinart, D., Klontz, T.  The effectiveness of equine-assisted experiential therapy: Results of an open clinical trial. Society and Animals, 15, 257-267.

This study examined psychological distress and well-being among 31 participants, ages 23 to 70. Results revealed revealed reduced psychological distress and fewer psychological symptoms based on findings from self-report questionnaires. Participants reported being more independent and self-supported, better able to live fully in the present and less troubled with regrets, resentment and guilt. However, the researchers noted limitations like the absence of a control group and a randomly selected sample.

2007 Schultz, P.N., Remick-Barlow, A.G., Robbins, L.  Equine-assisted psychotherapy: A mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra-family violence. Health and Social Care in the Community, 15, 265-271.

Researchers explored EAP’s effectiveness in 63 children who witnessed violence between their parents and experienced child abuse. After an average of 19 sessions, all children showed improved scores on the Children’s Global Assessment of Functioning (C-GAF), which measures psychological, social and school functioning for 6 to 17-year-olds. The study has some limitations; the sample  was self-selected sample, there was not a control group only one outcome measure was utilized.

2008 Meinersmann KMBradberry JRoberts FB Equine-facilitated psychotherapy with adult female survivors of abuse. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2008Dec;46(12):36-42.

This was a qualitative study of the stories of 5 women who experienced abuse and participated in EFP as a part of their recovery. Data analysis identified four patterns in the participant’ stories: “I can have power”, “doing it hands on”, “horses as co-therapists”, and “turned my life around.”   The participants’ stories support the effectiveness of EFP as an effective intervention for women who have experienced abuse

2012 Bachi KTerkel JTeichman M. . Equine-facilitated psychotherapy for at-risk adolescents: The influence on self-image, self-control, and trust Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2012 Apr;17(2):298-312. Epub 2011 Jul 14.

Researchers conducted the study at a residential treatment facility for adolescents at-risk. Fourteen resident adolescents comprised the treatment group, and were compared with a control group of 15 matched residents who did not receive EFP.  The treatment comprised a weekly individual EFP session over a period of seven months. The study found a trend of positive change in self-image, self-control, trust and general life satisfaction within the treatment group.