Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Erica Lizano


Youth who have experienced maltreatment (abuse, neglect, exposure to violence) typically exhibit worse life outcomes (lower graduation rates, higher incident of substance use, unplanned pregnancies, etc.). Effective therapeutic interventions are important to combat these negative effects. Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) is a popular and growing field. Anecdotal evidence abounds on the efficacy of AAI, however, there is a lack of quantitative and qualitative research and evidence-backed models of treatment particularly with youth. This study sought to increase the amount of quantitative evidence on AAI by specifically focusing on evaluating the Power Tools for Living Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) model with youth who have experienced maltreatment.

This study analyzed secondary data collected from Special Spirit Inc., an equine therapy center. Three groups of youth placed in out-of-home care at residential treatment facilities in Los Angeles County participated in the Power Tools for Living EAP program. Prior to and after the intervention the youth’s guardian or clinician filled out a Youth Outcomes Questionnaire (YOQ). This data was analyzed but no statistical significant associations were yielded from the analysis. Analysis of the data does provide suggestions for further study that may potentially establish the Power Tools for Living EAP model as an effective intervention for youth who have experienced maltreatment, particularly younger participants and those with higher YOQ scores prior to treatment.

Included in

Social Work Commons