$50,000 to Tufts to Study Equine-Facilitated Phychotherapy on Youth with Post-Traumatic Stress

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The Horses and Humans Research Foundation (HHRF), an international research foundation, has awarded a $50,000 research grant to study how children and adolescents with post-traumatic stress respond to equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). The grant, the eighth one awarded by HHRF in seven years and the second one awarded in 2013, has been given to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University for the study “Effects of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy on Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Male Youth.”

Led by Principal Investigator Megan Mueller, PhD, research assistant professor at the Cummings School and a developmental psychologist, and co-investigator Leslie McCullough, PhD, MSSW, LCSW, of Washburn University, the research team will examine 60 boys between the ages of 10 and 18 with post-traumatic stress. Specifically, they will measure post-traumatic stress symptoms before, during and after exposure to a combination of EFP and traditional therapy, as well as the effect of the human-animal bond on this program.

“EFP has been shown to be effective in reducing children’s anxiety over attending therapy and in treating emotional and behavioral challenges,” noted Mueller. “However, we need additional research on the efficacy of equine-based psychotherapy in addressing the needs of youth who have experienced trauma to support evidence-based practice in this field.”

“The HHRF Board was enthusiastic about supporting this research project. It holds much potential in helping to direct effective treatments for youth dealing with the devastating issues that accompany post traumatic stress,” said Lynn Shaw, HHRF board president. “We appreciate the vision and generosity of the donors who made this grant possible because it is this kind of well-designed research that will best develop the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies."

The treatment group (30 participants) will receive 10 two-hour sessions of EFP over the course of 12 weeks in addition to traditional therapeutic services. These sessions will include both mounted and unmounted activities and will take place at Touchstone Farm’s Horse Power Program, a PATH Premier Accredited Center and approved training location in Temple, New Hampshire. The control group (30 participants) will receive traditional therapeutic services only. All participants will be recruited from the Wediko School, a not-for-profit residential treatment center in Windsor, New Hampshire.

Horses and Humans Research Foundation is the only organization dedicated solely to funding open, competitively selected research to support the equine-assisted activities and therapies field. To make a donation and/or learn more about this and other Horses and Humans Research Foundation projects please email info@horsesandhumans.org or visit http://www.horsesandhumans.org.

Make a contribution to HHRF today and help ensure that this important research continues. For more information on this research, on the foundation, or on becoming a donor, contact KC Henry, Executive Director, KCHenry@horsesandhumans.org.

Through investment in rigorous research, Horses and Humans Research Foundation will serve as a catalyst to advance knowledge of horses and their potential to impact on the health and wellness of people. The foundation’s goal is to promote research that will 1) Benefit special program participants by improving equine assisted activity best practices;and 2) Educate the public, including professional affiliates, regarding the impact of horses and equine assisted activities.