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Therapeutic value of equine-human bonding in recovery from trauma

By J. Yorke, C. Adams, N. Coady

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Although most human-animal bond research has focused on relationships between humans and pets, animals have been used for therapeutic purposes in a variety of settings. Therapeutic riding programs have demonstrated a positive impact on quality of life for people with disabilities. Equine-facilitated psychotherapy is a promising approach to address self-esteem, depression, and other emotional or psychological problems. Restoration of the trauma victim's capacity for recovery hinges on provision of safety and development of trust, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Thus, recovery from trauma represents an ideal context for exploring the therapeutic impact of equine-human relationships. The six participants in this study recognized that their pre-existing relationships with horses were therapeutic during recovering from trauma, defined as sufficient to have caused significant change in the participant's life. Semi-structured interviews and video-tapes of horse-rider interaction were used to describe the nature of the equine-human bond and its contribution to recovery from trauma. The equine-human bonds described by participants have parallels both with important elements of therapeutic alliances between professionals and clients and with the positive impact of relationship factors on client outcome.

Date 2008
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 21
Issue 1
Pages 17-30
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279308X274038
Language English
Author Address Georgian College, 825 Memorial Drive, Box 2316, Orillia, Ontario, L3V 6S2, Canada.jyorke@georgianc.on.ca
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. Canada
  4. Commonwealth of Nations
  5. Developed countries
  6. Diseases
  7. Horseback riding
  8. Horses
  9. Human-animal relationships
  10. Mammals
  11. North America
  12. OECD countries
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Primates
  15. Psychotherapy
  16. Relationships
  17. Social psychology and social anthropology
  18. Sport animals
  19. therapeutics
  20. therapy
  21. trauma
  22. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed