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Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy for Veteran Survivors With Full or Partial PTSD

By Mark Aaron Mayfield

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Symptom severity among veteran survivors with partial or full posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues to increase, with approximately 40% of U.S. veterans reporting significant symptomology 10 years after initial onset of the condition. Veteran survivors often struggle to find therapeutic interventions that meet their specific needs and have a difficult time maintaining a therapy that is both equitable and evidenced based. Grounded in the Rogerian, client-centered theory, the purpose of this qualitative collective exploratory case study was to explore the effects of equine-facilitated psychotherapy with 3 veteran survivors with partial or full PTSD. A 4-stage process was used to collect data, including initial semistructured interviews, observations, photo-interviews, and researcher interpretations of photo-interviews. Data were transcribed, analyzed, and coded into within-case themes and cross case-themes. The principle findings revealed that veteran survivors with partial or full PTSD engaged in an equine-facilitated psychotherapy program had both here-and-now experiences and relational connection experiences with the horse. Many other significant details provided insight into the veteran participants' experiences with equine-facilitated psychotherapy, such as trust, connection, nonverbal communication, awareness, peace, decompression, communication, empathic reflection, congruence, reciprocity, concern, respect, and selflessness. These findings provide social change implications that may inform mental health professionals and counselor educators about the benefits of equine-facilitated psychotherapy with veteran survivors with partial or full posttraumatic stress disorder; the findings also provide structure to the use of equine-facilitated psychotherapy as an adjunct and/or alternative to traditional posttraumatic stress disorder treatments.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2016
Pages 183
Department Counselor Education and Supervision
Degree Doctor of Philosophy
Language English
University Walden University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Equine-facilitated psychotherapy
  3. Horses
  4. Mammals
  5. open access
  6. peer-reviewed
  7. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  8. veterans
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed