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The Need

Establishing the Need


The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimates that Post Traumatic Stress afflicts as many as one-quarter of the troops returning from the Middle East, or about 300,000 men and women. The growing field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is showing great promise in treating veterans and their families who suffer from the nightmares, anxiety, depression, anger, irritability and other debilitating effects of this invisible, yet very real disability.

Preliminary Studies Validate Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) for PTSD

Among the various recovery programs, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD has gathered the attention of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, who has provided grants for practitioners to run equine assisted therapy groups with returning troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Preliminary results are favorable, suggesting statistically significant rates of recovery.


The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) also evaluated treatment of members of the Georgia National Guard where deployments averaged two years or more. The study revealed that 100 percent of soldiers who completed therapy had dramatically reduced stress levels.

Why Horses?

In Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, horses are used as therapeutic tools for veterans to gain self-understanding and emotional growth. It recognizes the bond between animals and humans and the potential for emotional healing that can occur when a relationship is formed between the two species. In most cases, the horses are not ridden, and usually are not tethered in the arena, but allowed to roam free. Exercises can be as simple as giving the client a halter, and letting them figure out how to approach the horse and put it on.

Some patients are initially afraid of horses. But horses' genuineness and affection almost always dispel these fears, helping patients to embrace exposure therapy for their anxiety issues because horses have no ulterior motives. They “cut to the chase” and react to and mirror the emotions of visitors directly, without words. Because they rely on their heightened senses horses are ideal for positive therapeutic results through their non-verbal feedback. It often speeds up the therapy process with miraculous results. One session of EAP in the barn is often equal to five sessions “on the couch.


The Wide Range of Applications of Equine Therapy

Everything the horses provide for the veterans can be applied to other life-issues for those whose ability to trust has been violated by difficult life experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, neglect, or marital infidelity and life-threatening illness & special needs children.


The full-scale implications of the program teach: Trust, Confidence, Self-Efficacy, Self-Awareness, Communication, Perspective, Anxiety Reduction, Decreasing Isolation, Self-Acceptance, Impulse Modulation, Social Skills, Assertiveness, Boundaries, and Creative Freedom.


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