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McCullough, L. Risley-Curtiss, C. Rorke, J. (2015). Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy: A Pilot Study of Effect on Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Maltreated Youth. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 14(2):158-173.

(2015). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 14(2):158-173

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy: A Pilot Study of Effect on Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Maltreated Youth

Leslie McCullough, Christina Risley-Curtiss and John Rorke

Chronic maltreatment of children can provoke a host of neuropsychological and physiological anomalies that manifest as developmental, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and psychosocial disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Considering the multidimensional landscape of trauma and PTSD alongside the nonverbal and symbolic language of children, a nondidactic, somatic treatment intervention that engages the body’s own inner communication system seems well suited for young victims of maltreatment. The authors describe the results of a pilot study utilizing equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP), an experiential, cognitive-behavioral based intervention, for the treatment of PTSD symptoms of maltreated youth. A purposive sample of 11 youth ages 10–18 who presented with PTSD symptomatology participated in eight weekly EFP outpatient sessions 1.5 to 2 hours in length. Pre and post, as well as midpoint, tests were administered. Results suggest the EFP treatment effects are multimodal, working in multiple directions at the same time. Results also suggest that the EFP model may be a viable psychotherapy for traumatized youth suffering PTSD symptomatology.

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