'Queen of the world': experiences of 'at-risk' young people participating in equine-assisted learning/therapy

BURGON Hannah Louise
Journal article citation:
Journal of Social Work Practice: Psychotherapeutic Approaches in Health, Welfare and the Community, 25(2), June 2011, pp.165-183.
Taylor and Francis
Place of publication:
Philadelphia, USA

Although there is significant research on the benefits of animal-assisted therapy, little is known about therapies where horses in particular are used in therapeutic and learning interventions. As such, this paper investigated the experiences of at-risk young people who participated in a therapeutic horsemanship programme at ‘The Yard’. Therapeutic horsemanship is aligned with the emerging therapeutic interventions known as equine-assisted therapy, equine-assisted learning, and equine-facilitated psychotherapy. Participants included 5 girls and 2 boys who attended over a 2 year period. Results suggested that the relationships and experiences the participants had with the horses contributed to them gaining psychosocial benefits such as self-confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy and a sense of mastery, and empathy. The author concluded that the therapy opened positive opportunities including social normalisation for the children. Implications for clinical relevance are discussed.

Subject terms:
intervention, leisure activities, psychotherapy, self-concept, self-esteem, vulnerable children, young people, animal assisted therapy;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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