Funded Projects

Research that shapes the future

The Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families & Schools is an interdisciplinary research center in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Take Flight Farms/St. Monica's Equine Assisted Therapy

Project Information

Principal Investigator: Michelle Howell Smith
Co-Principal Investigator:
Funding Agency: Take Flight Farms
Award Date:
Theme: Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning
Project URL: N/A

For more information please contact Michelle Howell Smith at


Equitherapy is an umbrella term for a broad range of equine-assisted activities, both ground-based and mounted. By simultaneously targeting multiple systems such as the sensory, muscular, skeletal, limbic, vestibular and ocular systems, equitherapy strives to impact physical, psychological, social and educational benefits outside of the arena. Psychological variables generally have positive results in equitherapy research, showing significant decreases in anger, depression, PTSD symptoms, social anxiety and target behaviors, as well as significant increases in hope, well-being and coping.

This research aims to test the hypothesis that there are no differences in treatment outcomes (as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Post-traumatic Check List and Daily Living Activities-20) for women who participate in equine-assisted therapy in addition to the business as usual treatment at St. Monica’s Behavioral Health Services, and women who only participate in business-as-usual treatment. All clients in selected programs at St. Monica’s have the opportunity to participate in equine-assisted therapy (EAT), a ground-based equine therapy approach with no riding.

The study will use a quasi-experimental design in which clients at St. Monica’s can voluntarily choose to participate in EAT in addition to the business-as-usual treatment. Women 19 and older who participate in EAT will be invited to share their experiences through either a focus group or individual interview. These qualitative data will help to provide important contextual information about the program and identify potential variables that may have contributed to the quantitative results.