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Effectiveness of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

By Maria Beatriz Craven

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Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is a non-traditional form of psychotherapy that addresses treatment goals with the use of horses. This small pilot study consisting of 5 veterans examines the effectiveness of EAP in the treatment of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association’s model of EAP was used. With the vast majority of available literature being qualitative in nature and consisting largely of participant anecdotes, this study has aimed to provide a more controlled, quantitative approach. Results from this small sample study tentatively suggest that EAP was an effective form of treatment for veterans with PTSD. Results indicated that 2 out of 5 participants experienced a statistically significant reduction in PTSD symptoms and 3 out of 5 participants no longer met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for PTSD by follow-up. All participants demonstrated a statistically significant increase in positive affect and 4 out of 5 participants demonstrated decrease in negative affect following each session. Clear evidence of treatment effects in social and interpersonal functioning was not found with only minor benefit reported for improvement in social functioning for 2 of 5 veterans and minor improvement reported in only 1 out of 5 veterans in interpersonal functioning. These data were acquired using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist – Civilian version (PCL – C), The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Social Health measures, Outcome Questionnaire 45 – Interpersonal Roles subscale, and a visual analog adaptation of the Positive and Negative Affect scale (VPANAS). Recommendations for future research are also discussed including a need for a more comprehensive theoretical understanding of how change occurs in EAP and stronger study designs. Implications for practice are included as well.


Katie Carroll

Date 2013
Pages 170
Publisher Texas A&M University
Department Counseling Psychology
Degree Doctor of Philosophy
Language English
University Texas A&M University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted therapies
  3. Animal roles
  4. Equine-assisted activities
  5. Equine-facilitated psychotherapy
  6. Farms
  7. Horseback riding
  8. Horses
  9. Mammals
  10. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  11. Therapeutic horsemanship
  12. veterans