Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy and Post-Traumatic Stress in Youth
By Horses & Humans Research Foundation
Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, MA, and at Washburn University in Topeka, KS, recently completed a study funded by the Horses and Humans Research Foundation to investigate the effectiveness of equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) in the treatment of posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and teens. The team led by principal investigator and Cummings School Research Assistant Professor Megan Mueller, Ph.D., and co-investigator Leslie McCullough, Ph.D. of Washburn University, also explored the effects of the human-animal bond on the effectiveness of the EFP program.
Participants ages eight to eighteen were selected from a therapeutic treatment facility and placed either in a group of students receiving EFP or in a group of students who continued to receive the usual treatment from the therapeutic facility. Youth in the EFP program attended EFP sessions once a week for ten sessions and all youth were asked to complete a brief survey at the beginning of the program, at week five, and at week ten.
The unpublished data suggests that both the treatment and control groups experienced a significant reduction in posttraumatic stress symptoms, and the human animal bond was correlated with reduction in symptoms for the treatment group. These findings suggest additional evidence regarding the role of the human-animal bond in clinically based treatment, and could be useful in advancing awareness of EFP as a viable psychotherapeutic intervention and promoting high quality research assessing EFP as a treatment modality.
Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF) is dedicated to funding research to support the equine-assisted activities and therapies field. Since its founding, HHRF has awarded $400,000 in professional research efforts led by eight research teams in the United States, Canada and Germany.
The Horses and Humans Research Foundation is a non-endowed foundation dependent solely on donations. To make a donation and/or learn more about this and other HHRF projects visit www.HorsesandHumans.org.
Mission: Through investment in rigorous research, Horses and Humans Research Foundation will serve as a catalyst to advance knowledge of horses and their potential to impact the health and wellness of people.