An open trial of equine-assisted therapy for children exposed to problematic parental substance use

TSANTEFSKI Menka, et al
Journal article citation:
Health and Social Care in the Community, 25(3), 2017, pp.1247-1256.

Children exposed to problematic parental substance use (PPSU) often face a number of deleterious developmental outcomes, yet these children are less likely to become known to child protection and welfare services. Although there is a growing evidence base for equine-assisted therapy (EAT) as an effective treatment modality for atypically developing children and adolescents, scant research has explored the benefit of EAT for children exposed to PPSU. The current study is the first to explore the benefit of EAT for children exposed to PPSU in Victoria, Australia. Five 12-week EAT programmes were delivered from 2012 to 2015 with a total of 41 children (mean age of 10.26 years) taking part. Children's parents (n = 41) and schoolteachers (n = 31) completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire pre- and post-intervention. Parents reported that children's total difficult behaviour and emotional problems decreased following the 12-week EAT programme. In addition, parents and teachers observed a significant decrease in children's hyperactivity. The findings obtained highlight the benefit of EAT for children exposed to PPSU and thus, extends the existing evidence base for this treatment modality.

Subject terms:
animal assisted therapy, substance misuse, children, conduct disorders, behaviour problems, mental health;
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