Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Amy E. Naugle

Second Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Third Advisor

Dr. Scott Gaynor

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Roberto Flachier


Equine-assisted therapy, mental health, equine-assisted psychotherapy, therapeutic processes


The current study seeks to examine the program operations and treatment practices of individuals and organizations providing equine-assisted therapy services nationwide. Currently, there are several hundred programs across the United States that utilize equine-assisted therapy to treat common mental health problems in children, adolescents, and adults. Not all equine therapy programs function under the same theoretical model and therefore do not deliver treatment services using equivalent principles or techniques. In addition, program policies, procedures, and ethical guidelines of each provider vary. To date, there exists a paucity of research regarding equine-assisted therapy including both qualitative and quantitative data.

The present study was designed to address this lack of knowledge by surveying treatment providers and organizations that offer equine-assisted therapy to individuals with mental health concerns nationwide. It was expected that systematic assessment of these programs would expand the understanding of current equine-assisted therapy practices with focus on identifying barriers and solutions to effective treatment delivery; evaluating the existence of internally consistent treatment concepts and techniques; measuring adherence of actual treatment delivery to training protocols; and determining if and how programs use standardized outcome measures in their practice.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access