Equine-assisted therapy (EAT) is an increasingly popular form of treatment for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who, for one reason or another, find psychotherapy and other traditional treatment approaches unsuitable or unhelpful. However, the concomitant growth of research in the field is yet to engage with key factors relating to EAT; specifically, there are few studies considering the phenomenological perspective of patients, and the embodied knowledge deriving from the lived experience of PTSD patients who participated in EAT-based intervention programmes. Based on a qualitative-phenomenological study, interviews were conducted with 12 PTSD patients who had completed an EAT-based intervention programme. From these, three main themes characterising the meanings they gave to participation in an EAT-based treatment programme were identified: the ability to relax (self-regulation); establishing a relationship (bonding) and transformation and hope for the future. The findings of this study point to a process whereby participation in an EAT-based treatment programme facilitates the ability to cope with PTSD symptoms in a way that bridges the patient's emotional, social and spiritual-existential dimensions. The findings suggest that EAT can contribute to the healing process of veterans suffering from PTSD.
- equine-assisted therapy
- post-traumatic stress disorder
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health