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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;22(1):16-33. doi: 10.1177/1359104515572379. Epub 2016 Jul 27.

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy for adolescents experiencing depression and/or anxiety: A therapist's perspective.

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School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia.


Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs) are thought to overcome some of the limitations of traditional therapies as they do not rely exclusively on language as a medium for change. One such Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) approach involves horses as a therapeutic medium. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) comprises a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with clients to address treatment goals. The purpose of the present Australian-based qualitative study was to examine EAP facilitators' perspectives on the biospychosocial benefits and therapeutic outcomes of EAP for adolescents experiencing depression and/or anxiety. The findings suggest a range of improvements within adolescent clients, including increases in confidence, self-esteem and assertiveness, as well as a decrease in undesirable behaviours. The effectiveness of the therapy was thought to be due to the experiential nature of involving horses in therapy. The lack of understanding in the wider community about EAP was seen as a barrier to recognition and acceptance of EAP as a valid therapeutic intervention.


Animal-Assisted Interventions; Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy; adolescent mental health; anxiety; depression

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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