Equine-Facilitated Therapy and Trauma: Current Knowledge, Future Needs
Keywords:Trauma, PTSD, equine therapy, EFT
Equine-facilitated therapy (EFT) is a relatively new treatment for trauma and PTSD. EFT as well as animal assisted interventions in general have been introduced and implemented in mental health treatment for children and adults, though the research in support of these interventions has not kept up with practice. The purpose of this review is to examine the use of EFT for clients suffering from trauma/PTSD. Studies were included if PTSD/trauma was assessed and/or was measured as an outcome. A search of relevant databases resulted in nine peer-reviewed studies that met criteria. Studies are summarized and implications for future research are discussed. In general, findings suggest that EFT is a promising intervention for trauma/PTSD. Recommendations include a call for more research that includes veterans as well as for research that explicates the mechanisms by which EFT may be effective.
Key words: trauma, PTSD, equine, equine therapy
Amiot, C. E., & Bastian, B. (2015). Toward a psychology of human-animal relations. Psychological Bulletin, 141, 6-47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038147
Anestis, M. D., Anestis, J. C., Zawilinski, L. L., Hopkins, T. A., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2014). Equine-related treatments for mental disorders lack empirical support: A systematic review of empirical investigations. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 70, 1115-1132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22113
Earles, J. L., Vernon, L. L., & Yetz, J. P. (2015). Equine‐assisted therapy for anxiety and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28(2), 149-152. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.21990
Goodkind, J., LaNoue, M., Lee, C., Freeland, L., & Freund, R. (2012). Feasibility, acceptability, and initial findings from a community‐based cultural mental health intervention for Herman American Indian youth and their families. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(4), 381-405. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20517
Hoagwood, K. E., Acri, M., Morrissey, M., & PethPierce, R. (2016). Animal-assisted therapies for youth with or at risk for mental health problems: A systematic review. Applied Developmental Science, 21, 1-13. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2015.1134267
Kemp, K., Signal, T., Botros, H., Taylor, N., & Prentice, K. (2014). Equine facilitated therapy with children and adolescents who have been sexually abused: A program evaluation study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(3), 558-566. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-013-9718-1
Kohanov, L. (2003). Riding between the worlds. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Lentini, J. A., & Knox, M. (2009). A qualitative and quantitative review of equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) with children and adolescents. The Open Complementary Medicine Journal, 1, 51-57. doi: https://doi.org/10.2174/1876391X00901010051
Lentini, J. A., & Knox, M. S. (2015). Equine-facilitated psychotherapy with children and adolescents: An update and literature review. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 10, 278-305. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15401383.2015.1023916
McCullough, L., Risley-Curtiss, C., & Rorke, J. (2015). Equine facilitated psychotherapy: A pilot study of effect on posttraumatic stress symptoms in maltreated youth. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 14(2), 158-173. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15289168.2015.1021658
Nevins, R., Finch, S., Hickling, E. J., & Barnett, S. D. (2012). The Saratoga WarHorse project: A case study of the treatment of psychological distress in a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, 27(4), 22-25.
Meinersmann, K. M., Bradberry, J., & Bright Robers, F. (2008). Equine-facilitated psychotherapy with adult female survivors of abuse. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, 46, 36-42. doi: https://doi.org/10.3928/02793695-20081201-08
O’Haire, M. E., Guerin, N. A., & Kirkham, A. C. (2015). Animal-assisted intervention for trauma: A systematic literature review. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1-13. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01121
Schroeder, K., & Stroud, D. (2015). Equine-facilitated group work for women survivors of interpersonal violence. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 40(4), 365-386. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/01933922.2015.1082684
Selby, A., & Smith-Osborne, A. (2013). A systematic review of effectiveness of complementary and adjunct therapies and interventions involving equines. Health Psychology, 32, 418-432. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029188
Shambo, L., Seely, S. K., & Vonderfecht, H. (2010). A pilot study on equine-facilitated psychotherapy for trauma-related disorders. Scientific and Educational Journal of Therapeutic Riding, 16, 11-23.
Trotter, K. S. (Ed). (2012). Equine assisted interventions in mental health. In K. S. Trotter (Ed.), Harnessing the power of equine assisted counseling (pp. 1-15). New York: Routledge.
Yetz, J. P. (2011). Equine guided psychotherapy program description. Retrieved from http://www.yetzmdonline.com/
Yorke, J., Nugent, W., Strand, E., Bolen, R., New, J., & Davis, C. (2013). Equine-assisted therapy and its impact on cortisol levels of children and horses: A pilot study and meta-analysis. Early Child Development and Care, 183(7), 874-894. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.693486