Therapy Outside of the Box: The Effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Therapy vs. Traditional Therapy
Equestrian-assisted therapy (EAT) is an effective method for treating trauma. EAT may benefit people with PTSD, according to research proposed by Shelef et al. (2019). Although equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) is becoming increasingly accessible, Bachi (2013) argues that it "lacks a robust theoretical and scientific underpinning." Research papers on the effects of equine-assisted therapy on traumatic experiences in the military are readily available. Based on their research, Marchand et al. (2021). There has been a lot of research on the efficacy of equine-assisted activities and therapies for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms decreased, but participants in these programs also reported improvements in self-esteem, self-awareness, communication, trust, and overall well-being (Romaniuk et al., 2018). Individualized trauma therapy for victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) may aid in their recovery and allow them to continue with their lives. The mental and emotional effects of trauma are typically the primary focus of Western psychotherapy. Warshaw et al. (2013) observed that body-oriented treatments (such as acupuncture and yogic breathing) are significantly underutilized in the recovery from trauma.
To better serve their patients, today's treatments increasingly incorporate modalities beyond only talk therapy. It's common practice to employ them alongside conventional care. In some instances, incorporating a horse into conventional talk therapy could be quite beneficial. In particular, the horse may benefit those who have difficulty communicating. A therapist may guide a client into talking about the horse's conduct if the client is blaming the horse for negative emotions like grief or rage (Masini, 2010). Horses are often used to symbolize aspects of a client's life when they are present (Burgon, 2011; Trotter et al., 2008). Through interaction with the horse, the therapist is able to help the client express and clarify their worries (Wilson, 2012).
When people are resistant to traditional therapy, Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP) can help by employing tried-and-true methods that have been shown to be effective in the real (Wise, 2012). EAP may be useful even if a client has shown improvement through more conventional talk therapy. The EAP allows therapists to observe their patients' reactions outside of the therapy session. When it comes to healing, the horse is one of nature's most prized gifts, and that's exactly what's done in EAP. Using the same theoretical framework and methodological framework, studying the outcomes of equine participation in conventional therapy would be a fascinating study topic.
According to Wilson (2012), although EAP has promise for many individuals, it is not appropriate for all. Learning about the area's potential benefits increases as it grows. If you're looking for an alternative treatment or just curious about how you and your surroundings interact, this could be a good solution for you. It has been argued that the use of horses in therapy is beneficial because "they offer clients interactive and multi-sensory experiences not available in standard mental health treatment settings" (Schroeder and Stroud, 2015). It's possible that trauma survivors who engage in therapy using horses will experience fewer periods of dissociation. A client's reaction to the horse's appearance, sound, smell, touch, or warmth is all possible throughout the bonding process. Simmons (2011). Client and therapist alike gain from equine therapy's natural setting. Being outside in nature, as Simmons (2011) notes, can make one feel more at one with the world.
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Bachi, K. (2013). Application of attachment theory to equine-facilitated psychotherapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 43(3), 187–196. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10879-013-9232-1
Burgon, H. L. (2011). 'Queen of the world': Experience of 'at risk' young people participating in equine-assisted learning/therapy. Journal of Social Work Practice: Psychotherapeutic Approaches in Health, Welfare, and the Community, 25, 165-183.
Masini, A. (2010). Equine-assisted psychotherapy in clinical practice. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, 48, 30-34.
Romaniuk, M., Evans, J., & Kidd, C. (2018). Evaluation of an equine-assisted therapy program for veterans who identify as ‘wounded, injured or ill’ and their partners. PLOS ONE, 13(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203943
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. https://doi.org/10.1080/01933922.2015.1082684
Shelef, A., Brafman, D., Rosing, T., Weizman, A., Stryjer, R., & Barak, Y. (2019). Equine assisted therapy for patients with post traumatic stress disorder: A case series study. Military medicine. Retrieved May 14, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30839068/
Simmons, Winifred Berry, "The effects of equine therapy on the therapist" (2011). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA. https://scholarworks.smith.edu/theses/1017
Wilson, Kristen, "Equine-assisted psychotherapy as an effective therapy in comparison to or in conjunction with traditional therapies" (2012). HIM 1990-2015. 1377 https://stars.library.ucf.edu/honorstheses1990-2015/1377
Warshaw, C., Sullivan, C. M., & Rivera, E. A. (2013). A systematic review of trauma-focused interventions for domestic violence survivors. PsycEXTRA Dataset. https://doi.org/10.1037/e566602013-001