The National Behavioral Council of Health estimates that 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced a physiological or psychological trauma at least once in their lives, often resulting in a decrease in their quality of life. Studies have shown that participation in EAS can lead to a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety in a variety of populations. However, many of these studies lack support for the positive outcomes noted in the participants. Therefore, there is a need for evidence-based research to support EAS for trauma victims.
This study will invesgate the influence of equine-assisted services (EAS) on biological and psychological responses of individuals who have experienced trauma as well as their equine facilitators.
The development of a human-animal bond through participation in a series of four weekly EAS sessions will positively influence physiological, psychological, and behavioral responses among both human and equine participants.
In this study, parcipants between 18-55 years of age will attend four weekly, 30-minute sessions during which they will interact with the same horse.
It is expected that with each consecuve session, both the human and horse will develop a stronger relaonship, as evaluated by oxytocin and psychological measurements, potenally leading to formaon of a human-animal bond. With formaon of a bond, researchers ancipate increased posive outcomes including decreased anxiety, decreased symptoms of PTSD, increased perceived social support, and reduced physiological indicators of stress in humans, in addion to increased acceptance, decreased avoidance, decreased stress behavior, and reduced physiological indicators of stress in horses.
Results of this study will provide new evidence of the influence of animal-assisted intervenons (AAI) and provide a greater understanding of the bond-formaon ability of human-horse dyads. Addionally, this study will provide a better understanding of the impact of EAS on the equine parcipants.