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Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) is an experiential form of psychotherapy that involves equines. PATH Intl. provides standards of professionalism and safety for people working in EFP.

EFP is defined as an interactive process in which a licensed mental health professional working with or as an appropriately credentialed equine professional partners with suitable equine(s) to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client.

The equine is a critically important partner in the work of EFP. The equine’s prey nature and intense sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment make them perfect partners for professionals who teach a wide range of life and coping skills.

The concept that horses might be helpful or healing to people struggling with mental health issues is based on the idea that horses (as domesticated prey animals) are extremely sensitive to changes in the human being (as a predatory creature). Due to their sensitivity, horses react and respond to people differently based upon the person's emotional state. Since we know that emotional states in human beings also impact our physiology, it only makes sense that horses can smell or sense (using their vomeronasal organ) those changes. The horse acts as a large biofeedback machine, providing the client and the therapist with information regarding the client's moods and changes within those moods. If a client arrives anxious the horse will act and respond one way. If the client is able to reduce his or her anxiety, the horse's behaviors will also change. This provides a plethora of information and skill building opportunities for both the client and the therapist.

PATH Intl. Members in the EFP field have access to a broad range of resources, including:

• Training specific to the mental health field
• Opportunities for internships and mentoring
• Inclusion in a field of knowledgeable, seasoned professionals

Experienced mental health members can:
• Participate in advanced training
• Continue their professional understanding and implementation of PATH Intl. ethics and standards
• Network with their peers and other professionals in the field of equine-assisted activities and therapies through Community Connections.

EFP Guidelines 

Please refer to the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation. EFP Standards and the Psychosocial Safety Guidelines are available in the individual member's only area, in the Standards Manual Section. Note: You will need to be logged in to access the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation

See Precautions and Contraindications section of the PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation for more in-depth information.

For more on EFP, see EAAT Benefits.

EFP Manual (to purchase downloadable version)



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