Can Praxis, the innovative equine therapy program, recently received the good news that it will receive additional funding from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and funds from Stampede Road Race to ensure the organization can continue to provide programming for veterans and military members and their families faced with Operational Stress Injuries (OSI).
Since 2013, VAC has funded the study of phase one of the equine therapy program.
Phase one of the program welcomes six couples, or a veteran and any family member, and helps them to relearn communication skills and manage conflict through a combination of classroom and hands-on exercises.
In early July, VAC pledged an additional $25,000 to study phase two and three of the Can Praxis program.
“The current funding from VAC is going to help with the follow-up studies on the effectiveness, immediate and long term, of phase two and phase three,” said Can Praxis co-founder Steve Critchley.
Phase two brings together ten veterans or family members, separately, for three days.
“The purpose of this program is a reinforcement of communication skills learned on phase one,” stated Critchley.
Participants spend three days learning how to care for horses and spend the evenings learning from one another.
“The critical point here being that phase two is focused specifically on the successes they’ve achieved and how to transfer those other successes to other parts of their lives,” added Critchley.
Phase three of the program brings five couples back together for a three-day pack-ride in the mountains.
“Once again the focus is on reconfirming the success from phase one and phase two and to help each other learn how to survive the difficult days as well as the good days,” stated Critchley.
From the outset, the study has been conducted by research psychologist Dr. Randy Duncan in conjunction with the University of Saskatchewan thanks to a partnership with Wounded Warriors Canada and VAC.
Funding will help support the six psychological measurement instruments created by Dr. Duncan to help measure the effectiveness of the program and provide empirical outcomes to ensure the program is meeting its objectives.
So far, studies have shown that phase one of the program has a 97 per cent success rate of immediate relief of symptoms and a long-term success rate of 75 per cent.
“The funding is extremely important as its allowing us to continue with the collection of the empirical data in a forthright manner with the appropriate researchers and academics in order to ensure the programs we provide are in fact of real value and assistance to the participants,” noted Critchley.
The study will help VAC determine if equine therapy, in combination with other treatments, is proven an effective treatment for OSIs and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“Whenever something new appears within the health system it has to be fully researched and understood before it can be implemented with full confidence. This is part of that process to ensure consistency and regular outcomes,” explained Critchley.
Stampede Road Race also donated $15,000 that will be used towards phase one programming. Can Praxis is expense-free for participants and the organization covers costs of travel, hotel, meals, rental cars, and childcare, in hardship circumstances.
To learn more about Can Praxis visit their website.
Tegan Vickers and her dad, Neil Vickers, a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces with Bella the horse at the Can Praxis Equine centre in Rocky Mountain House. (CNW Group/Wounded Warriors Canada)