Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: An Emerging Trauma-Informed Intervention


  • Page Walker Buck West Chester University
  • Nadine Bean West Chester University
  • Kristen de Marco EAGALA-certified Equine Specialist Executive Director, Gateway HorseWorks




Equine-assisted psychotherapy, trauma-informed, trauma and stressor-related disorders, EAGALA


Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) has emerged as a promising, evidence-based intervention for the treatment of trauma and stressor-related disorders. This experiential therapy offers an option for clients whose traumatic experiences render traditional talk therapies ineffective. Initial research on the most robust model of EAP, developed by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), indicates strong, positive effects for children, adolescents and adults who have experienced trauma. EAGALA was designed to allow for rigorous evaluation of efficacy, a clear theoretical base, standardized implementation, and ongoing training for practitioners. As the primary providers of mental and behavioral health services in the United States, social workers are keenly aware of the need for a portfolio of treatment methods to manage the increasing demand for services. EAP has emerged as an important addition to this portfolio, providing options for some the most vulnerable client populations.

Author Biography

Page Walker Buck, West Chester University

Dr. Page Buck is Associate Professor in the Graduate Social Work Department at West Chester University. Her lifelong love of animals has become the focus of her research, teaching and advocacy. Serving as a research consultant to several organizations providing animal-assisted interventions, Dr. Buck is committed to helping build the evidence base in the field. She is also focused on developing training opportunities for clinicians who would like to incorporate animals into their existing practices through graduate coursework and continuing education offerings.


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