Description: Have you heard of equine therapy? If you think what this means is therapy provided for horses then you haven’t heard of it. Equine therapy is based on a belief that spending time with and around horses can help individuals deal with issues associated with hidden trauma or with more obvious features of post traumatic stress disorder. Before you read the article, assume for a moment that equine therapy actually helps people are struggling with issues of trauma and think a little bit about why this might be. After you’ve read the article think about whether you’re any more certain about your answer to the previous question than you were before reading the article.
Source: Equine Therapy: How Horses Help Humans Heal, Lisa Esposito, Health Care, Patient Advice, US News And World Reports.
Date: Sept 2, 2016
Photo Credit: Getty Images
If you found that your read of the article did not clearly tell you whether your hypotheses about equine therapy prior to reading the article were supported or not you’re not alone. I have tried on several occasions to come up with research methodologies for evaluating the possible impacts of spending time with horses on various individuals. The difficulty is speculating coherently about what the potential causal or influential factors might be in human-equine interactions. Certainly considering that forces are prey, and as such very aware of the body language of other creatures around them provides a tantalizing starting point for beginning to think about what time with horses might have to teach human beings. If one were to further consider the effectiveness with which some people can “whisper” forces or engage with horses in a “non-cowboy” way that additional possible hypotheses arise. Beyond this, the additional issue that arises is deciding what one should be measuring in the way of outcome variables. If an individual has been struggling long-term with the early developmental traumas or with catastrophic event related traumas it is not entirely clear what one should be looking for in the way of short-term (immediately following an equine therapy session) outcomes. The anecdotal data for the effectiveness of equine therapy is persistent if not strong. However, what is seriously lacking is a solid theoretic potential framework for even beginning to try and make sense out of the question of whether equine therapy makes a difference for people struggling with various forms of trauma.
Questions for Discussion:
- What were your hypotheses about the possible impacts or effectiveness of equine therapy prior to reading the article?
- How, if at all, were your thoughts about equine therapy shifted after reading the article?
- How might we design studies to investigate the impact and effectiveness of equine therapy? If you have thoughts about how to answer this particular question I would be very interested to hear them so please post them as comments to this blog entry or me an email them to me directly (Mike Boyes Boyes@ucalgary.ca).
References (Read Further):
Tyler, J. L. (1994). Equine psychotherapy: Worth more than just a horse laugh. Women & Therapy, 15(3-4), 139-146.
Trotter, K. S. (Ed.). (2012). Harnessing the power of equine assisted counseling: Adding animal assisted therapy to your practice. Taylor & Francis.
Klontz, B. T., Bivens, A., Leinart, D., & Klontz, T. (2007). The effectiveness of equine-assisted experiential therapy: Results of an open clinical trial. Society & Animals, 15(3), 257-267. http://equisource.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/The-effectiveness-of-equine-assisted-experiential-therapy-Results-of-an-open-clinical-trial.pdf