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Animal & Equine Assisted Psychotherapy


This resource page is part of three Online Courses
Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Straight Talk from the Horse's Mouth
Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Special Applications
Animal Assisted Psychotherapy: Feline & Canine Companionship in Treatment

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Animal Assisted Therapy

Definition Clarification

  • Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)
    Qualified, certified therapists and health care providers that employ the use of their own animal or another trained animal as a part of a therapeutic documentable treatment plan. The animals can receive similar training as those used in the activities category.
  • Animal Assisted Activities (AAA)
    Public volunteers that take personal pets to visits at places such as hospitals, schools, or nursing homes on a more casual schedule. The purpose of the visits is for socialization, comfort, and an introduction to animals.

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Additional References

  • Bachi, K. & Parish-Plass, N. (2017). Animal-assisted psychotherapy: A unique relational therapy for children and adolescents. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 22(1), 3-8.

  • Balluerka, N., Muela, A., Amiano, N., & Caldentey, M. (2014). Influence of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on attachment representations of youth in residential care. Children and Youth Services Review, 42, 103-109.

  • Buttelman, D.,& Römpke, K (2014). Anxiety reducing effect: Dog, fish, and plant in direct comparison. Anthrozoös, 27(2), 267-277.

  • Chandler, C. (2012c). Animal-assisted interventions and counseling theories. In C. Chandler (Ed.), Animal-assisted therapy in counseling (pp. 131-164). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.

  • Clark, D. (2017) Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT): Effectiveness as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Furman Engaged!. 429.

  • Coren, S., (2013). How therapy dogs almost never came to exist. Psychology Today.

  • Dietz, T. J., Davis, D., & Pennings, J. (2012). Evaluating animal-assisted therapy in group treatment for child sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse: Research, Treatment, & Program Innovations for Victims, Survivors, & Offenders, 21(6), 665-683.

  • Engelman, S. R. (2013). Palliative care and use of animal-assisted therapy. Omega Journal of Death and Dying, 67(1-2), 63-67

  • Fine, Aubrey H. (2015) Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Foundations and guidelines for animal-assisted interventions (4th ed.). CA, US: Elsevier Academic Press.

  • Fine, A. (Ed.). (2010). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (3rd Ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

  • Fung, S., & Leung, A. S. (2014). Pilot study investigating the role of therapy dogs in facilitating social interaction among children with autism. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 44(4), 253-262.

  • Gullone, E. (2003). The proposed benefits of incorporating non-human animals into preventative efforts for conduct disorder. Anthrozoos, 16(2), 160-174.

  • Hanselman, J. L. (2001). Coping skills interventions with adolescents in anger management using animals in therapy. Journal of Child and Adolescent Group Therapy, 11(4), 159-195.

  • Haggerty, J. & Mueller, M. (2017). Animal-assisted stress reduction programs in higher education. Innovative Higher Education. 1-11.

  • Julius, H., Beetz, A, Kotrschal, K., Tuner, D., & Uvnäs-Moberg, K. (2013). Attachment to Pets: An Integrative View of Human-Animal Relationships with Implications for Therapeutic Practice. Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe Publishing.

  • Kanamori, M., Suzuki, M., Yamamoto, K., Kanda, M., Matusui, Y., Kojima, E., Fukawa, H., Sugita, T., & Oshiro, H. (2001). A day care program and evaluation of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for the elderly with senile dementia. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias, 16(4), 234-239.

  • Kogan, L. R., Granger, B. P., Fitchett, J. A., Helmer, K. A., & Young, K. J. (1999). The human-animal team approach for children with emotional disorders: Two case studies. Child & Youth Care Forum, 28(2), 105-121. 219

  • Kovacs, Z., Kis, R., Rozsa, S., & Rozsa, L. (2004). Animal-assisted therapy for middle-aged schizophrenic patients living in a social institution. A pilot study. Clinical Rehabilitation, 18, 483-486.

  • Levinson, B. (1962). The dog as a "co-therapist." Mental Hygiene, 46, 59-65.

  • Lubbe, C.,& Scholtz, S. (2013). The application of animal-assisted therapy in South African context: A case study. South African Journal of Psychology, 43(1), 116-129.

  • Marr, C. A., French, L., Thompson, D., Drum, L., Greening, G., Mormon, J., Henderson, I., & Hughes, C. W. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy in psychiatric rehabilitation. Anthrozoos, 13(1), 43-47. 220

  • Martin, F., & Farnum, J. (2002). Animal-assisted therapy for children with pervasive developmental disorders. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 24(6), 657-670.

  • Marx, M. S., Cohen-Mansfield, J., Regier, N. G., Dakheel-Ali, M., Srihari, A., & Thein, K. (2010). The impact of different dog-related stimuli on engagement of persons with dementia. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, 25(1), 37-45.

  • McCardle, P., McCune, S., Griffin, J. A., Esposito, L., & Freund, L. S (2013). Animals in our lives: Human animal interaction in family, community, and therapeutic settings. Baltimore, MD: Brooks.

  • McCune, S., Esposito, L., & Griffin, J. (2017). Introduction to a thematic series on animal assisted interventions in special populations. Applied Developmental Science, 21(2), 136-138.

  • Mills, D. & Hall, S. (2014). Animal-assisted interventions: making better use of the human-animal bond. Veterinary Record. 174, 269–273.

  • Nepps, P., Stewart, C., & Bruckno, S.(2014). Animal-assisted activity: Effects of a complementary intervention program on psychological and physiological variables. Journal of Evidence Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 19(3), 211-215.

  • Overall, C. (2017). Pets and people: The ethics of our relationships with companion animals. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Petition to establish a section on human-animal studies in Division 17, Society of Counseling Psychology. (2006, Fall). American Psychological Association, Society of Counseling Psychology Newsletter, 20.

  • Rabbitt, S., Kazdin, A. E., & Hong, J. (2014). Acceptability of animal-assisted therapy: Attitudes toward AAT, psychotherapy, and medication for the treatment of child disruptive behavioral problems. Anthrozoos, 27, 335–350.

  • Richeson, N. E. (2003). Effects of animal-assisted therapy on agitated behaviors and social interactions of older adults with dementia. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, 18(6), 353-358.

  • Signal, T., Taylor, N., Prentice, K., McDade, M., & Burke, K. (2017). Going to the dogs: A quasi-experimental assessment of animal assisted therapy for children who have experienced abuse. Applied Developmental Science, 21(2), 81-93.

  • Snipelisky, D. & Burton, M.C. (2014). Canine-assisted therapy in the inpatient setting. Southern Medical Journal 107, 265–273.

  • Stewart, L. Chang, C. & Rice, R. (2013). Emergent theory and model of practice in animal-assisted therapy in counseling. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 8(4), 329-348.

  • Wesley, M. C., Minatrea, N. B., & Watson, J. C. (2009). Animal-assisted therapy in the treatment of substance dependence. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 22, (2), 137-148.

  • Wilkes, J. K. (2009). The role of the companion animals in counseling and psychology: Discovering their uses in the therapeutic process. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd

  • Yap, E., Scheinberg, A., & Williams, K. (2017). Attitudes to and beliefs about animal assisted therapy for children with disabilities. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 26, 47-52.

  • Zilcha-Mano, S., Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2011). Pet in the therapy room: an attachment perspective on Animal-Assisted Therapy. Attachment & Human Development, 13(6), 541-561.


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Equine Assisted Therapy

Online Resources

  • A list of abstracts for juried articles and articles from non-juried publications on Horsemanship & the Horse, Equine Assisted Activities & Therapies, Hippotherapy and Equine Assisted Mental Health & Learning
  • NARHA is now officially the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Over the years this change became necessary as the previous name did not adequately convey what the organization has grown to become. EFMA is no longer its own entity, but rather incorporated into PATH.
  • Molly DePrekel MA LP has co-authored 5 manuals complete with activities and suggestions for groups including those with self-esteem issues, anger management issues, and survivors of sexual assault.
  • Claire Nana MA LMFT has been a contributing writer on exercise and mood for Trail Runner and Her Sports magazines, as well as a course author for several education courses at International Sport Science Association. Claire will be releasing her first three books, KIDS BORN THIN: A Parents' Guide To Understanding and Preventing Childhood Obesity, ON THE BACK OF THE HORSE: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond, and NO SECRET SO CLOSE: A true story of a father's murder, a mother's betrayal, a family torn apart, and the horses that turned it all around, in Kindle edition.

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Centers, Clinics and Organizations

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Additional Reading

  • All, A., Loving, G. and Crane, L. (1999) Animals, Horseback Riding and Implications for Rehabilitation Therapy. Journal of Rehabilitation, 65 (3): 49-87.
  • Baker, W. (2004) Healing Power of Horses: Lessons from the Lakota Indians. Irvine, CA: Bow Tie Press.
  • Bass, M., Duchowny, C. and Llabre, M. (2009) The Effect of Therapeutic Horseback Riding on Social Functioning in Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39 (9): 1261-1267.
  • Bexson, T. (2008) Horse Sense, Mental Health Today, February 2008, pp. 16-17.
  • Bizub, A., Joy, A., and Davidson, L. (2003) “Its like being in another world”: Demonstrating the Benefits of Therapeutic Horseback Riding for Individuals with Psychiatric Disability. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 26 (4): 377-384.
  • Bowers, M. and MacDonald, P. (2001) The Effectiveness of Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy with At-Risk Adolescents. Journal of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, 15: 62-76.
  • Broersma, P. (2007) Riding into Your Mythic Life: Transformational Adventures with the Horse. Novato CA: New World Library.
  • Broersma, P. & Houston, J. (2008). Riding into Your Mythic Life: Transformational Adventures with the Horse. Novato, CA: New World Library.
  • Brooks, S. (2006) Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy. In N. Webb (Ed.) Working with Traumatized Youth in Child Welfare. New York: The Guildford Press.
  • Burgon, H. (2011) 'Queen of the World': Experiences of 'at-risk' young people participating in equine-assisted learning/therapy. Journal of Social Work Practice (in press – first published online 14 March 2011).
  • Burgon, H. (2003) Case studies of adults receiving horse riding therapy. Anthrozoos, 16 (3): 263- 276.
  • Cawley, R., Cawley, M. and Retter, K. (1994) Therapeutic Horseback riding and self-concept in adolescents with special educational needs. Anthrozoos, 7 (2): 129-134.
  • Chardonnens, E. (2009) The Use of Animals as Co-Therapists on a Farm: The Child-Horse Bond in Person-Centred Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy. Person Centred and Experimental Psychotherapies, 8 (4): 319-332.
  • Cushing, J. and Williams, J. (1995) The Wild Mustang Programme; A Case Study in Facilitated Inmate Therapy. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 22 (3-4): 95-112.
  • Dell, C., Chalmers, D., Dell, D., Sauve, E. and MacKinnon, T. (2008) Horse as Healer: An Examination of Equine Assisted Learning in the Healing of First Nations Youth from Solvent Abuse. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 6(1): 81-106.
  • Donaghy, G. (2006) Equine Assisted Therapy. Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 26 (4):5
  • Dorrance, B. and Desmond, B. (2001) True Horsemanship through Feel. Guilford, Connecticut: Lyons Press.
  • Engel, B. (1984) The horse as a modality for Occupational Therapy. In F. Cromwell (Ed.) The Changing Roles of Occupational Therapists in the 1980's. New York: Haworth Press.
  • Engel, B. (Ed.) (1997) Rehabilitation with the aid of a horse: a collection of studies. Barbara Engel Therapy Services.
  • Evans, R. and Franklin, A. (2010) Equine Beats: Unique Rhythms (And Floating Harmony) Of Horses And Their Riders. In T. Edensor, (Ed.) Geographies of Rhythm, Nature, Place, Mobility and Bodies. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Ewing, C., MacDonald, P., Taylor, M. and Bowers, J. (2007) Equine-Facilitated Learning for Youths with Severe Emotional Disorders: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study. Child Youth Care Forum, 36: 59-72.
  • Fine, A. (2010). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice, 3rd Edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Frame, D. (2006) Practices of Therapists Using Equine Facilitated/Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Adolescents Diagnosed with Depression: A Qualitative Study. Doctoral Thesis. New York University.
  • Frewin, K. and Gardiner, B. (2005) New Age or Old Sage: A Review of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology, 6: 13-17 .
  • Hallberg, L. (2008). Walking the Way of the Horse: Exploring the Power of the Horse-Human Relationship. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.
  • Hayden, A. (2005) An Exploration of the Experiences of Adolescents Who Participated in Equine Faciliated Psychotherapy: A Resiliency Perspective. Doctoral Thesis. Alliant International University.
  • Held, C. (2006) Horse Girl: An Archetypal Study of Women, Horses, And Trauma Healing. Doctoral Thesis, Pacifica Graduate Institute.
  • Henrickson, J. (1971) Horseback riding for the handicapped. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 52(6): 282-283.
  • HM Prison Service (2004) Horses for courses. Prison Service News, available online at 6,18,3,18,0,0 [accessed on 16.6.201.
  • Irwin, C. (2001). Dancing with Your Dark Horse: How Horse Sense Help us Find Balance, Strength and Wisdom. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company.
  • Irwin, C. (2005) Dancing with your Dark Horse: How Horse Strength Helps Us Find Balance, Strength And Wisdom. New York: Marlowe and Company.
  • Isaacson, R. (2009) Horse Boy: A Father's Miraculous Journey To Heal His Son. London: Viking/Penguin Books.
  • Jackson, S. (2006) The Horse in Myth and Legend. Stroud, Glos: Tempus Publishing Ltd.
  • Jones, B. (1983) Just crazy about horses: The fact behind the fiction. In A. Katcher and A. Beck (Eds.), New perspectives on our lives with companion animals. Philadelphia, USA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Kaiser, L., Spence, J., Lavergne, A. And Bosch, K. (2004) Can a week of therapeutic riding make a difference? - A pilot study. Anthrozoos, 17 (1): 63-72.
  • Kaiser, L., Smith, K., Heleski, C. and Spence, L. (2006) Effects of a therapeutic riding program on at-risk and special educational children. Journal of American Medical Association, 228 (1): 46-52.
  • Karol, J. (2007) Applying a Traditional Individual Psychotherapy Model to Equine-facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP): Theory and Method. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12: 77-90.
  • Kimball, C. (2002) Mindful Horsemanship: Increasing your awareness one day at a time. Middleton, New Hampshire: Carriage House Publishing.
  • Kiley-Worthington, M. (1987) The Behaviour of Horses: In relation to management and training. London: J.A. Allen.
  • Kirby, M. (2010) Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy. Gestalt Journal of Australia and New Zealand. 6 (2): 60-68.
  • Klontz, B., Bivens, A., Leinart, D. and Klontz, T. (2007) The Effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Experiential Therapy: Results of an Open Clinical Trial. Society and Animals, 15: 257-267.
  • Kohanov, L. (2001) The Tao of Equus: a woman's journey of healing and transformation through the way of the horse. Novato, CA: New World Library.
  • Kohanov, L. (2005) Riding Between The Worlds: Expanding Our Potential Through The Way Of The Horse. Novato, CA: New World Library.
  • Kohanov, L. (2007). The Tao of Equus: A Woman's Journey of Healing and Transformation Through the Way of the Horse. Novato, CA: New World Library.
  • Kunzle, U, Steinlin, E, Yasikoff, N (1994) “Hippotherapy-K”: The Healing Rhythmical Movement of the Horse for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis. In Eaton, P (Ed.), Eighth International Therapeutic Riding Congress: the complete papers, New Zealand: National Training Resource Centre.
  • Lentini, J. and Knox, M. (2009) A Qualitative and Quantitative Review of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) with Children and Adolescents. The Open Complementary Medicine Journal, 1: 51-57.
  • Llewellyn, A. (Ed.) (2007) The Healing Touch of Horses: True Stories of Courage, Hope and Transformative Power of the Human/Equine Bond. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
  • MacKinnon, J., Noh, S., Laliberte, J. and Allan, D. (1995) Therapeutic Horseback Riding: a review of the literature. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Paediatrics, 15 (1): 1-15.
  • Mayberry, R (1978) The Mystique of the Horse is Strong Medicine: Riding as Therapeutic Recreation. Rehabilitation Literature, 38 (6): 192-196.
  • McCormick, A.& McCormick, M. (1997). Horse Sense and the Human Heart: What Horses Can Teach Us About Trust, Bonding, Creativity and Spirituality. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.
  • Meinersmann, K., Bradberry, J. and Bright Roberts, F. (2008) Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy with Adult Female Survivors of Abuse. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, 46 (12): 36-42 .
  • Mistral, K. (2007) Heart to Heart: A Quantitative Approach to Measuring the Emotional Bond between Horses and Humans. Horse Connection Magazine, August, pp 44-47.
  • Moreau, L. (2001) Outlaw Riders: Equine-facilitated therapy with juvenile capital offenders, Reaching Today's Youth, 5 (2): 27-30 available online at online/cycol-0405-outlawriders.html.
  • Nussen, J. (2012). Soul Recovery: equine assisted activities for healing from abuse by others, loss of others & loss of self. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • O'Rourke, K. (2004) Horse-assisted therapy: Good for humans, but what about the horses? Journal of the American Veterinary Association, 204: 131–133.
  • Rector, B. (2005) Adventures in Awareness: Learning with the Help of Horses. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse.
  • Rees, L. (1984) The Horse's Mind. London: Stanley Paul.
  • Roberts, M. (2000) Horse Sense for People. London: HarperCollins .
  • Roberts, M. (2009). The Man Who Listens to Horses: The Story of a Real-Life Horse Whisperer. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Roberts, F., Bradberry, J. and Williams, C. (2004) Equine-facilitated psychotherapy benefits students and children. Holistic Nursing Practice, 18 (1): 32-35.
  • Rolfe, J. (2007) Ride from the Heart: The Art of Communication between Horse and Rider. London: JA Allen.
  • Rothe, E., Vega, B., Torres, R., Soler, S. and Pazos, R. (2005) From Kids and Horses: Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy for Children. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 5 (2): 373-383.
  • Schultz, P., Remick-Barlow, G. and Robbins, L. (2007) Equine-assisted Psychotherapy: a mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra-family violence. Health and Social Care in the Community, 15 (3): 265-271.
  • Smith-Osborne, A. and Selby, A. (2010) Implications of the Literature on Equine-Assisted Activities for Use as a Complementary Intervention in Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 27 (4):291–307.
  • Trotter, K. (2012). Harnessing the Power of Equine Assisted Counseling: Adding Animal Assisted Therapy to Your Practice. New York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Trotter, K., Chandler, C., Goodwin, D. and Casey, J. (2008) A Comparative Study of the Efficacy of Group Equine Assisted Counselling With At-Risk Children and Adolescents. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 3 (3): 254-284.
  • Vidrine, M., Owen-Smith, P. and Faulkner, P. (2002) Equine-Facilitated Group Psychotherapy: applications for therapeutic Vaulting. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 23 (6): 587-603.
  • Yorke, J., Adams, C. and Coady. N (2008) Therapeutic Value of Equine-Human Bonding in Recovery from Trauma. Anthrozoos, 21 (1): 17-30.

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