Young people suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms experienced a significant reduction in symptoms after undertaking equine facilitated psychotherapy in a new study in the US.
Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and at Washburn University 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 18 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 10 sessions and all youth were asked to complete a brief survey at the beginning of the program, at week 5, and at week 10.
The unpublished data suggests that both the treatment and control groups experienced a significant reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms, and the human animal bond was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.
Also involved in the research was Isabella (Boo) Martin, a PATH and Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor of Touchstone Farm, and Winter Keeler, a social worker and PATH Therapeutic Riding Instructor.