Researching Equine-Facilitated Group Psychotherapy (EFGP) for Trauma Survivors: Horses and Humans in Therapeutic Relationships
Daniel L. Stroud, PhD
The aim of this study is to determine the influence equine-facilitated group psychotherapy (EFGP) has on 42 women trauma survivors’ post-trauma symptoms; as well as what each of these women consider their own most personally meaningful incidents throughout their treatment experience.
The aim of this research was to contribute research findings to help inform the emerging practice of involving humans with horses to foster human growth, healing and overall wellness. To this end, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence equine-facilitated group psychotherapy (EFGP) has on the negative, trauma-related, thoughts feelings of physical sensations of women who have survived interpersonal violence (for example, sexual or non-sexual assault, or military sexual trauma). These women completed 8 3-hr sessions in groups composed of other women and paired with an equal number of horses. Collectively horses and humans experienced a number of activities (treatment) designed to create opportunities to become more self-aware, and more connected with horses and with each other.
Participants completed questionnaires throughout the study and took part in interviews as a follow-up after all group sessions were completed. Overall, responses indicate that the participants
- Felt better (less depression) after time spent with the horses and the other members
- Became less likely to lose a sense of mindful connection with their own bodies in times of stress, upset or uncertainty
- Participants reported thinking less negatively about themselves, others, and about the world in general over the duration of the group
In fact, numerous participants expressed having a more positive and empowered sense of self, along with increased appreciation for others.
One area where we failed is with regard to overall sample size. Initially we sought to enroll 42 participants. Unfortunately we were unable to approach this number.