How It works

How it Works

I have had many ‘talk therapies’ in my life, but this was totally different and very powerful – I could step away from my usual intellectualizing and just be and maybe it was this that enabled me to gain so much insight and to really ‘cut through’ stuff. This therapy has really changed things for me. I have noticed less fear and more inner stability.” (client with a history of domestic violence and mental health diagnosis, after six one-hour EAGALA sessions).

If you would like to learn more about what we do and why it works, we commend the research articles and resources below and hope that they may be helpful as you consider connecting with us.

Read a blog article on the power of the EAGALA Model in action 

What’s the evidence?

EAGALA with the Military

Find an EAGALA Model Program in your area

Video Testimonial: Power Tools for Living

Power Tools for Living is an EAGALA Model program designed to develop and strengthen emotional intelligence skills to increase resilience and healthy behaviors. It has been used with schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and foster care with significant success in increasing:

  • social and emotional skills
  • goal-setting
  • conflict resolution
  • ability to self-correct and regulate
  • school attendance and grades

while decreasing:

  • bullying
  • behavior problems in the classrooms

School officials share their experiences with the program.

Here at Horses Guiding Humans, we are honored to work with our local Military and Veteran communities. This animated short film, “Breathe” shares the story of a Special Forces veteran’s moving experience in
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.


There is a growing body of evidence for the 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 the benefits of the EAGALA Model, the list contains a limited number of articles and each article has limitations. However, this does not mean the effects of the EAGALA Model are limited. Rather, it is a reflection of a field in its early stages and illustrates the need for more research.

Current Published Studies contributing to the evidence base of the EAGALA Model:

  • Nurenberg, R. et al (2014). Animal-assisted therapy with chronic psychiatric inpatients: Equine-assisted psychotherapy and aggressive behavior. Psychiatric Services in Advance, Oct. 1-7.
    • EAGALA Model: The study included 90 hospitalized psychiatric patients who had recent violent or regressed 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 the largest decrease in violent behavior as measured by incidents of violent behavior (hospital tracking system).
  • Kemp, 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 EAGALA Model EAP intervention for adolescents who experienced sexual abuse & trauma – measured psychological distress and found significant improvements in functioning after the equine intervention.

A pilot study is a small-scale preliminary study conducted to evaluate whether something can be done (feasibility) and improves upon the study design before the 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:

  • Whittlesey-Jerome, 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.
    • EAGALA Model: Pilot study looking at adding EAGALA Model EAP to existing conventional treatment for victims of interpersonal Found that EAGALA group had more improvement with self-efficacy, depression, and general functioning.
  • Schultz, 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 Community15 (3), 265-271.
  • EAGALA Model: A 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 a number of EAP
  • Black, (2016). Combating compassion fatigue in community care professionals using the EAGALA model. Counseling Australia, Winter, 8-13.

o EAGALA Model: A 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 post-test. Results showed significant decreases in compassion fatigue and burnout and increases in compassion satisfaction at posttest. Emotional awareness and emotional management of others also increase significantly.


  • Whittlesey-Jerome 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.
    • A case study comparing effects of EAGALA Model group sessions and psychoeducational group sessions on resiliency in charter school 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.

Non-empirical articles discussing EAGALA Model EAP:

  • Notgrass, 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.

* Please note studies are reviewed approximately every 6 months. If you are aware of a study that you think should be reviewed for inclusion on this list, please email us at [email protected]

PO Box 993, Santaquin, UT 84655 ∙ 801-754-0400 ∙ [email protected]

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