Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sonia Zimmerman


Equine-Assisted Therapy; Patient Care Team; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic--therapy; Veterans


Purpose: The purpose of this program plan, Veteran Equine Therapy Services: An Interdisciplinary approach (VETS), is to provide an interdisciplinary, theory-driven structure to increase veterans’ occupational performance in the community using equines as a therapeutic medium.

Methods: A thorough literature review was completed focusing on current PTSD treatment options for veterans, beneficial effects of using animals and equines in treatment, and interdisciplinary team effectiveness. Scholarly articles were retrieved through databases found on the Harley E. French Library website located at the University Of North Dakota School Of Medicine and Health Sciences including PubMed, Google Scholar, Sociological Abstracts, CINAHL, and PsycInfo. Key terminology used included: case manager, equine, equine assisted activities and therapy, equine facilitated psychotherapy, hippotherapy, interdisciplinary team, occupational performance, occupational therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social worker, therapeutic riding, and veterans. The literature revealed a need for interdisciplinary programming using equines as a therapeutic medium when working with veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) was selected and used to guide the development of occupational therapy interventions.

Results/Conclusion: Veteran Equine Therapy Services: An Interdisciplinary Approach (VETS), was developed as a practice guide for professionals interested in interdisciplinary programming addressing the needs of veterans with PTSD. VETS is meant to be used as a best practice guide for occupational therapists. Social workers and therapeutic riding instructors interested in running an interdisciplinary program that works with veterans with PTSD. Occupational therapy is identified as the main form of treatment. The program plan consists of a best practice approach to help ease veterans’ transition from military life back into civilian life. The structure of VETS includes individual and group sessions to address isolation and individual goals of the veteran. The specialized equine facility provides an atmosphere intended to reduce the stigma commonly associated with traditional mental health treatment. Outcome measures to collect data on the use of equines in therapeutic practice are recommended.