Research Into the Efficacy of Equine Therapy

See below for excerpts from research articles on the efficacy of Equine Therapy:

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy has been found to significantly decrease psychological symptoms in individuals with trauma or abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, or autism spectrum disorder. (Rothe et al., 2005) 

The equine-human bond, in tandem with the client-therapist relationship, allows for the processing of painful emotions and experiences while simultaneously developing intimacy, identity, and partnership.  This dual process creates an efficient and successful therapeutic program. (Klontz et al., 2007, Adams & Coady, 2008) 

EFP has been found to enhance self-esteem, trust, relationships, interpersonal effectiveness, and overall feelings of well-being in participants.  (Schultz, Remick-Barlow, and Robbins, 2006) 

Due to horses’ unique characteristics and uncanny ability to reflect human emotion, the use of equines in the treatment of mental illness has become increasingly popular within the past decade.  (Trotter, 2012) 

If clients are not outwardly congruent with their emotional state, the horse will be uncooperative, agitated, and quickly lose respect and trust in the handler (McCormick & McCormick, 1997; Porter-Wenzlaff, 2007). Consequently, the horse’s disobedience creates negative feelings in the client. When these emotions arise, transference typically takes place, providing an opportunity for the client to process unresolved issues (Karol, 2007). 

To facilitate transference, the use of metaphors is heavily incorporated into EFP (Whitely, 2009).  Horses are particularly effective metaphors for relationships, as they are social animals and have designated roles within their herd (Bachi, Terkel, & Teichman, 2011; Duckers, 2008).


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Campaign Organizer: Kristen Marcus, Executive Director, CHAPS Equine Assisted Therapy