Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy with Young People: Why Insurance Coverage Matters



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Publication Title

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal


Equine-facilitated psychotherapy, Children and adolescents, Youth, Health disparities, Health insurance, Mental health, Human–animal interaction, Veterinary social work


An increased understanding of integrated behavioral healthcare highlights the importance of mental and physical wellness anchored by person-centered interventions. Evidence is accumulating in support of non-traditional, empirically supported mental health interventions such as equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP). Historically and currently, insurance companies neglect to cover EFP as a prevention and treatment strategy for children, youth, and families. Without coverage, the cost of participating in EFP is a financial barrier to accessing the intervention. Not covering and not reimbursing costs for this non-traditional intervention represents a crucial misstep by the insurance industry. EFP’s strong history and professionalization, its comparable cost to talk therapy, a growing research base demonstrating EFP’s benefits for youth, and policy efforts toward increasing person-centered, innovative, integrated healthcare approaches suggest greater access to interventions such as EFP is needed. Because EFP may be more accessible to those who might not traditionally attend or respond positively to talk therapy sessions, it should not be available only to those with the most privilege. Insurance coverage and reimbursement for EFP is necessary to advance the field, aid service standardization, integrate service tracking systems, and increase the research quality, all of which would ultimately benefit youth mental health. This paper aims to serve as a resource for social work practitioners looking to recommend, engage in, or advocate for EFP.

Original Published Citation

Ballard, I., Vincent, A., & Collins, C. (2020). Equine facilitated psychotherapy with young people: Why insurance coverage matters. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 37(6), 657–663. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-020-00712-1

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