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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, 19-38 p.Article 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, 19-38 p.
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
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-33985OAI: diva2:713868
Available from: 2014-04-24 Created: 2014-04-24 Last updated: 2016-01-18Bibliographically approved

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Carlsson, Catharina
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