Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a powerful tool for helping individuals, couples, and families overcome the pain of traumatic life experiences. This type of therapy can help clients find more internal resources than they knew they had, strengthen their coping skills, practice how to ask for and receive help, and begin to regain a sense of control. The techniques used in equine therapy promote safety, consent, choice, self-empowerment, trust, and compassion. These techniques can help people feel that they have more control over the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors affected by traumatic experiences.
Equine therapy helps traumatized clients regain confidence in their bodies and learn to relax and trust again while working with horses. In the initial phase of the program, participants do not ride horses. The activities are aimed at building trust and creating a bond between the horse and the client. At Columbia University Irving Medical Center, an innovative research project is being carried out that studies the effectiveness of equine assisted therapy for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This project is under the direction of Yuval Neria, PhD, director of trauma and Prudence Fisher, PhD, associate professor of clinical psychiatric social work (in psychiatry) and research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Equine therapy can have positive effects on people with problems with trust, social interactions, and impulse control. Equine therapy at Integrative Life Center is an innovative trauma-based approach to treating many mental health conditions. It can help people learn to trust again and build confidence in their bodies.
The research conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center has shown that equine therapy can be an effective treatment for PTSD in veterans. The results of this study suggest that equine therapy can be a valuable tool for helping people who have experienced trauma to heal and move forward with their lives.