Date of Conferral







Alethea Baker


For centuries, scholars and individuals have recognized the psychophysiological impact of the horse-human connection. The felt impact helped launch the creation of equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), an alternative form of treatment for individuals who struggle to connect to traditional forms of therapy. The limited amount of research on the objective benefit of EAP as an alternative to traditional psychotherapy has limited the number of individuals who are referred for such treatment. Grounded in Bowlby's theory of attachment, the purpose of this quantitative quasi-experimental study was to determine if attachment to a therapist differs between the method of treatment, traditional psychotherapy or EAP, and if the attachment has an impact on levels of anxiety and levels of depression in participants. Participants who received TP or EAP provided the archival data (pretest/posttest) through the Client Attachment to Therapist Scale, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck Depression Inventory-II. The research questions were analyzed using a mixed design ANOVA to assess for an interaction between the studies two independent variables on the dependent variables. The results identified engaging in therapy provided symptom reduction, yet the effect of adding an equine to the delivery of service provided greater symptom reduction over time. This study contributes to social change by providing managed healthcare systems, providers, and potential clients with objective data on the benefits of EAP.