What the Research Says

What the Research Says

Research on the Eagala Model

There is a growing body of evidence for Eagala Model equine-assisted psychotherapy. The publications listed below are papers describing research investigating Eagala. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, indicating they have passed the scrutiny of experts in the scientific community. Although these articles present data on benefits of the Eagala Model, the list contains a limited number of articles and each article has limitations.

Current Studies. Current Published Studies contributing to the evidence base of the Eagala Model:

Kemp, K., Signal, T., Botros, H., Taylor, N., Prentice, K. (2013). Equine facilitated therapy with children and adolescents who have been sexually abused: A program evaluation study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23, 558-566.

  • Eagala Model EAP intervention for adolescents who experienced sexual abuse & trauma – measured psychological distress and found significant improvements in functioning after the equine intervention

Morgan, B. M. (2017). Stress management for college students: An experiential multi-modal approach. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 12 (3), 276-288.

  • The study followed a quasi-experimental design (N = 42), comparing students in one class who received stress management activities (experimental group) with students in another class who did not receive any stress management programming (control group). Activities were carried out either with Eagala-Model EAL or another experiential modality (e.g., yoga, mindfulness, hiking). Results showed that student stress decreased from pretest to posttest in the experimental group. The EAL modality performed as well as the other modalities

Nurenberg, J.R. etal (2014). Animal-assisted therapy with chronic psychiatric inpatients: Equine assisted psychotherapy and aggressive behavior. Psychiatric Services in Advance, Oct. 1-7.

  • Study included 90 hospitalized psychiatric patients who had recent violent or regressed behaviors. Participants were randomly selected to one of the following groups for 10 weeks: Eagala Model EAP, canine group, social skills group or routine hospital activities (control group). Found that those in the Eagala group showed largest decrease in violent behavior as measured by incidents of violent behavior (hospital tracking system).

Pilot Studies. A pilot study is a small scale preliminary study conducted in order to evaluate whether something can be done (feasibility) and improve upon the study design prior to performance of a full-scale. A pilot study can thus provide useful information as to whether it is worthwhile conducting a larger scale study and help determine the sample size needed to detect a significant effect. Below are pilot studies with promising results that would be great to see replicated on a larger scale:

Black, M. (2016). Combating compassion fatigue in community care professionals using the Eagala model. Counseling Australia, Winter, 8-13.

  • Pilot study investigating the efficacy of the Eagala Model to treat compassion fatigue in community care professionals. A group of 10 professionals self-selected to participate in a 7-session group program following the Eagala Model. Compassion, compassion fatigue, and burnout were measured at pre and posttest. Results showed significant decreases in compassion fatigue and burnout and increases in compassion satisfaction at posttest. Emotional awareness and emotional management of others also increases significantly.

Schultz, P. N., Remick‐Barlow, G., & Robbins, L. (2007). Equine‐assisted psychotherapy: A mental health promotion/intervention modality for children who have experienced intra‐family violence. Health & Social Care in the Community, 15 (3), 265-271.

  • Pilot study investigating the efficacy of EAP in children referred for psychotherapy for mental health and behavioral issues in a one-group pretest-posttest quasi-experiment. GAF scores improved from pretest to posttest; improvements were positively correlated with number of EAP sessions.

Whittlesey-Jerome, W.K. (2014). Adding equine-assisted psychotherapy to conventional treatments: A pilot study exploring ways to increase adult self-efficacy among victims of interpersonal violence. The Practitioner Scholar: Journal of Counseling and Professional Psychology, 3, 82-101.

  • Pilot study looking at adding Eagala Model EAP to existing conventional treatments for victims of interpersonal violence. Found that the Eagala group had more improvement with self-efficacy, depression, and general functioning.

Whittlesey-Jerome W. K., Schultz, P. N., & Tomaka, J. (2016). Adding equine assisted psychotherapy to conventional treatment: A case study of adolescent resilience among charter high school students. Pediatrics & Therapeutics 6, (1), 1-10.

  • Case study comparing effects of Eagala Model group sessions and psychoeducational group sessions on resiliency in charter school students. Participants were in pre-existing groups, each attending four 2-hour weekly sessions over one month. The data showed trends in improvements in mastery and relatedness in the Eagala group over and above those found in the nonequivalent control group. However, these differences were not statistically significant. Replication with larger samples and random assignment to groups is warranted.

Conceptual Articles. These are non-empirical journal articles discussing Eagala Model EAP:

Notgrass, C. G., & Pettinelli, J. D. (2015). Equine assisted psychotherapy: The equine assisted growth and learning association’s model overview of equine-based modalities. Journal of Experiential Education, 38 (2), 162-174.

  • Non-empirical journal article describing the Eagala Model.

Usadi, E. J., & Levine, S. A. (2017). Why we don’t ride: Equine assisted psychotherapy, military veterans and moral injury. Journal of Trauma & Treatment, 6: 3. doi: 10.4172/21671222.1000374

  • Non-empirical journal article discussing why ground-based EAP is recommended for war veterans and others who have experienced moral injury.

Walker Buck, P., Bean, N., & de Marco, K. (2017). Equine-assisted psychotherapy: An emerging trauma-informed intervention. Advances in Social Work, 18 (1), 387-402.

  • Non-empirical journal article describing the Eagala Model, particularly as it relates to social work and treating those affected by trauma

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