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.
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