Study Shows Significant Improvements Among Girls who Participate in Copper Canyon Academy's Equine Therapy Program

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A study conducted at Copper Canyon Academy documents the degree to which the school's renowned Equine Therapy program can improve the lives of participating students.

It can also be 'a way in' with students who are oppositional and resistant.

At Copper Canyon Academy, one of the nation's premiere therapeutic boarding schools for girls, the school's renowned Equine-Assisted Therapy Program has developed a reputation for having a positive impact on participating students. Now, a study by one of the school's counselors has documented the degree to which this program can improve the lives of struggling teens.

According to George R. Davies, MC, LPC, LMFT, the Copper Canyon counselor who conducted the study, results indicate that students who participate in the horse program show considerable improvement in a wide range of personal, social, and emotional categories.

"In general, the results indicate that students who participate in the Equine Therapy program should show greater effectiveness in daily functioning, and greater happiness with life in general, than students who didn't take part in the program," Davies said.


According to Davies, the outcome study involved 38 Copper Canyon Academy students, 24 of whom participated in the Equine Therapy program, and 14 who did not.

Students in both groups were administered the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQI) two times, Davies said, once at the beginning of the eight-week course and again at its completion. The EQI is composed of five general scales and 15 subscales that are designed to measure an individual's personal, social, and emotional skills related to self-understanding, capacity for empathy and relating to others, tolerance for stress, flexibility, motivation, and problem-solving effectiveness.

In comparison to the control group, the scores of the 24 Equestrian Therapy students showed statistically significant increases on the Intrapersonal Scale, Stress Management Scale, Adaptability Scale, and Total Emotional Quotient Scale after they had completed the therapy. Among the 14 control group students, there was no significant statistical change between the pre-test and the post-test.

Davies said that his analysis of the study data indicates that Equine Therapy participants showed "significant improvement" in the following areas:

  • Assertiveness
  • Emotional awareness
  • Empathy
  • Tolerance for stress
  • Flexibility
  • Impulse control
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Reality testing
  • Self-actualization and independence
  • Self-regard
  • Social responsibility in interpersonal relationships

"This program is especially valuable to younger students, students who have a history of not responding well to traditional 'talk therapy,' and to students with attachment/bonding issues," Davies said. "It can also be 'a way in' with students who are oppositional and resistant."


Copper Canyon Academy employs equestrian therapy as part of its comprehensive effort to help girls overcome a wide range of social and emotional challenges. The licensed professionals at Copper Canyon use horses in an effort to help girls develop greater empathy and nurturing abilities, while redefining themselves and their purpose in the world around them.

The animals in the program serve as co-therapists, providing unconditional positive regard, setting firm boundaries, testing students' boundaries and providing students with an opportunity to learn to empathize with and care for others. "Animals don't lie, manipulate, or cheat," the program's website states. "As students work with the animals, they begin to realize that lying, manipulating and cheating don't work; they begin to form bonds and to expand their horizons beyond themselves."

Offered as an enhancement to Copper Canyon's existing program of individual and group therapy, the Equestrian-Assisted Therapy program is offered at no additional charge to students who are enrolled in the academy.


Copper Canyon Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for young women ages 14 to 17. Nestled in a scenic Central Arizona valley, Copper Canyon Academy features a wide range of educational and therapeutic initiatives that are designed to meet the specific needs of students who are struggling to achieve their potential. Copper Canyon's structured environment combines a rigorous academic curriculum with innovative opportunities such as animal-assisted therapy and an extensive leadership development program.

Founded upon the principles of cooperation, compassion, and respect, and staffed by established professionals who specialize in adolescent care, Copper Canyon Academy is a highly respected program with a successful history of helping students overcome behavioral, emotional, and learning problems.

By learning how to excel both in the classroom and within the community, CCA students acquire the skills, self-esteem, and self-reliance necessary to transform themselves from "troubled teens" into healthy and capable young women.

Copper Canyon Academy is a proud member of Aspen Education Group, the nation's largest and most comprehensive network of therapeutic schools and programs. Aspen Education Group offers professionals and families the opportunity to choose from a variety of therapeutic settings in order to best meet a student's unique academic and emotional needs. Aspen Education Group has been profiled by major news and television organizations around the world, including U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and People magazine, as well as on CNN, ABC's 20/20 and Good Morning America, NBC's The Today Show and Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and the syndicated television show Dr. Phil. Aspen is a division of CRC Health Group, the nation's largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization.

For more information about Aspen Education Group, visit or call (888) 972-7736. For more information about Copper Canyon Academy, visit or call (928) 567-1322.


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