Feds to fund 2 new studies on equine therapy for veterans
TORONTO – Two organizations dedicated to helping members of the military and their families will receive funding to study the effect of equine therapy for veterans with mental health conditions.
Can Praxis will receive $25,000 in federal funding to continue its research into equine therapy.
Can Praxis uses horses to help Canadian Forces members recover from the experiences of war and repair their relationships with family members. The program, which operates on a ranch in Alberta, works with small groups of soldiers diagnosed with an Operational Stress Injury (OSI) – including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – and their family members.
SPECIAL SERIES: Hope Reins, equine therapy and veterans
Additionally, the Canadian Institute of Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) will receive $250,000 to study equine therapy.
“Research into the effectiveness of animal-assisted interventions will provide more evidence about treatments available to veterans to assist them with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions,” said Dr. Alice Aiken, Director of CIMVHR.
“Our veterans and their families deserve the best assistance possible in understanding and overcoming the conflict and crisis PTSD will introduce into their lives, and today is another step forward in making that a reality,” said Can Praxis’ Steve Critchley.
The Can Praxis program uses horses as a training aid. Veterans learn to manage conflict, foster effective communication skills and reconnect with their family members. Horses are used for a variety of reasons. “They’re a herd animal,” said Critchley in an earlier interview with Global News. “Horses understand the need for social interaction.” Being prey animals, horses are also hyper-vigilant, said Critchley. “The horses can pick up on emotions and feelings.”
Horses react to human body language, giving program leaders clues into what is going on with the veterans and how they are communicating.
“With a horse, if you come on too strong and aggressive, it will take off. We show them through exercises, that if they approach things differently the horse will come back, because the horse will believe that [they’re] worthwhile to trust and respect,” said Critchley, adding that these lessons also apply to how they interact with their family.
Last year, Can Praxis expanded its program to also help RCMP officers.
For more on Can Praxis, watch the video below: Hope Reins
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