Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Ray Liles


Equine-assisted psychotherapy is emerging as a new alternative therapy method. As the field is new, there is limited amount of research looking at the current theoretical foundation being utilized in the therapeutic process. This study aims to explore the field of equine-assisted psychotherapy and its current theoretical foundation. The main question guiding this study was: What are the therapeutic theories and themes guiding the current practice of equine-assisted psychotherapy? The study consisted of six in-person qualitative interviews with current practitioners of equine-assisted psychotherapy. A short Likert-type scale was also used to quantitatively gather descriptive statistics about theories currently being used by these practitioners. The results of this study yielded interesting findings about the similarities between equine-assisted psychotherapy and traditional office therapy. The use of horses in therapy creates new dynamics to be addressed in the therapeutic process. The practitioners interviewed in this study agreed on many different aspects about the application of equine-assisted psychotherapy to clients displaying characteristics of trauma, anxiety, depression, and boundary issues, but also had dissenting opinions about other aspects of the practice. The generalist model of social work practice is utilized in the questionnaire. This method of questioning found that the use of the generalist model is applicable to the field of equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Included in

Social Work Commons