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Horses in Therapy: The Practice of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy

By Mandi J. Turner

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Horses are being used in psychotherapy at increasing rates despite a lack of evidence establishing efficacy of the practice (Anestis, Anestis, Zawilinski, Hopkins, & Lilienfeld, 2013; Selby & Smith-Osborne, 2013). Without common and consistent practices based on a working theory of how Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) creates change, it is unknown how varied the practice is across the United States (Anestis et al., 2013). A lack of studies establishing efficacy leaves providers to determine effectiveness based on anecdotal evidence that may be at risk for bias (Lilienfeld, Ritschel, Lynn, Cautin, & Latzman, 2014). The American Psychological Association (APA) provides recommended best practices for clinical decision-making, which bases a large portion of efficacy for a treatment on randomized controlled trials (APA Taskforce on Evidence-Based Practice, 2006), currently non-existent within the EFP literature (Anestis et al., 2013). For the current study, EFP providers were surveyed to assess their knowledge and implementation of evidence-based practices in psychology within their EFP work. Providers were primarily White/Caucasian females from counseling or social work backgrounds with training in the EAGALA model as well as other psychological treatment backgrounds. Results indicated that EFP providers treat individuals with a variety of syndromes, with trauma, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders primarily reported. Our sample indicated adherence to basic EBPP by many of the providers, including having a broad base of experience from which to draw information, combining standardized protocols with interventions specifically chosen for individual client needs, assessing client progress with a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures, and utilizing diagnostic information to inform treatment planning.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Pages 57
Department Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Degree Psy.D.
Language English
University University of Denver
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
  1. open access