DOGS may be man’s best friend, but horses are also helping veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
SINCE June 2014, Mates4Mates has held seven one-week residential Equine Therapy programs around Australia.
On Saturday in Brisbane, the organisation’s senior psychologist Janice Johnstone told a PTSD forum the program’s initial results showed increases in happiness and reductions in depression, anxiety and stress for the participants.
“One week doesn’t seem a lot of time in somebody’s life,” she said. “But one week on an intensive program where they have to engage every day, there’s this animal, there are mates some who might have had the same experiences as them, is quite a significant thing for them.”
The program is the most popular of those run by the organisation, which provides support services to wounded, injured or ill, current and ex-serving ADF members.
It’s not about learning to ride a horse, but about building trust and understanding with the animal to “feel alive, connected and motivated again”.
Program delivery manager Suzanne Desailly said horses had been successfully used as a therapeutic tool in other countries, including the US and Canada.
The forum also heard about Whiskey’s Wish, which provides fully qualified trained service dogs to veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
This article first appeared on ‘The Herald Sun’
on 11 September 2015.