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Equine Assisted Social Work as a mean for authentic relations between clients and staff
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1134-1535
Mid Sweden University.
University of Oslo.
2014 (English)In: Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, ISSN 2333-522X, Vol. 2, no 1, p. 19-38Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study was to explore, by qualitative methods, the meaning of equine-assisted social work (EASW) both to young women with self-harm problems and their staff in residential treatment. Data were collected by in-depth interviews with eight staff members and nine clients. Human-horse interaction was observed subsequently in three of the staff and four of the clients. Based on the narratives of the staff members and the clients, who agreed, the horse’s ability to read human emotions made the staff and clients aware of their own emotions. In order not to alienate the horse or make the situation dangerous, which intensified their sense of being in the present, both the clients and staff had to regulate their emotions. As a result the resistance for change decreased, made the participants more likely to regulate their emotions and change behavior rather than avoid the situation or the information. The horse seemed to set the framework for the interaction between the staff and young women. The fact that even the staff could fail in the interaction with the horse, affected the interaction between staff and clients making it more informal and dynamic. A relationship based on empathy, trust, respect and negotiation, where clients shared private matters, resulted in the perception of a more authentic relationship. Further research is needed to see which conditions are favourable for achieving an authentic relationship and which conditions possibly fail. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Human Animal Interaction section 13 of division 17 of the APA , 2014. Vol. 2, no 1, p. 19-38
Keyword [en]
equine-assisted social work, mirror of emotions, be in the presence, emotional awareness and regulation, authentic relationship
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-33985OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-33985DiVA, id: diva2:713868
Available from: 2014-04-24 Created: 2014-04-24 Last updated: 2017-08-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Hästunderstött socialt arbete - ett samtalsrum med potentiella möjligheter för ungdomar med självskadebeteenden och deras personal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hästunderstött socialt arbete - ett samtalsrum med potentiella möjligheter för ungdomar med självskadebeteenden och deras personal
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis examines, through qualitative methods, the role of the horse in equine-assisted social work (EASW) as well as what facilitates or constrains the role of the horse. Specifically, should interaction be understood in the same manner regardless of which individuals that participate? The thesis is based on empirical data collected throughinterviews with eight staff members and nine female self-harming clients, aged 15–21 years, in a residential treatment facility. In addition, video recordings of the human-horse interaction of three staff members and four clients were analyzed, resulting in the additional issues addressed in a second interview. Critical dialogues between patterns and fragmentations in the narratives and video-recordings, as well as a dialogue with participants, while they were viewing videos of their own EASW sessions, led to the conclusion that adding a horse could qualitatively change therapeutic relationships. 

The results are presented in four articles that provide an image of the complexity of EASW. The summary chapters focus on a synthesized analysis, based on Goffman’sdramaturgical perspective and Hochschild’s emotional rules in which the concepts were applied: backstage, frontstage, impression management, stigma, emotional management, deep acting and surface acting. The analysis demonstrated that defense mechanisms are reduced when the horse is perceived as non-judgmental and therefore less intimidating. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that it is crucial that the horse is regarded as a subject, a transitional object, which can silence the inner critic and create a ‘moment of silence’ that contradicts stigmas and enablesadolescents to regulate their emotions. This leads to possibilities to be more authentic and the relationship between staff and adolescents to be perceived as more authentic. 

In summary, the work presented in this thesis contributes to increased knowledge about the role of the horse in opposing impression management and surface acting, depending on the high demands on staff to reach outcomes regarding communication, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image. The different triads consist of different liaisons, giving rise to unique combinations and the potential to avoid emotional dissonance. The quality of the relationships seems to depend on staff and clients’ attachment orientations. 

Keywords: Authentic, Emotional work, Equine-assisted social work, Impression management, Moment of silence, Self-harming adolescents, Stigmatization

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2017. p. 127
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 283/2017
Keyword
Authentic, Emotional work, Equine-assisted social work, Impression management, Moment of silence, Self-harming adolescents, Stigmatization
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-63873 (URN)978-91-88357-70-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-05-31, V159, Stagneliusgatan 14, Kalmar, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-19 Created: 2017-05-17 Last updated: 2017-08-16Bibliographically approved

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