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“It’s easier to be with them”: How children with mental health concerns perceive their experiences with equine-assisted therapies

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posted on 22.05.2021, 14:52 authored by Erin Harvey
Animal assisted therapy was founded as early as 1792 to support an individual’s health (Wilson, Buultjens, Monfries & Karimi, 2017). One form of animal assisted therapy drawing attention over the past few decades is equine-assisted therapy and interventions (EAT/I). Research in this area has largely considered adults’ perspectives of EAT/I and has failed to consider how children using EAT/I perceive treatments. Using a sociology of childhood framework (Prout & James, 1997), a children’s rights perspective (Di Santo & Keannelly, 2014), and a disability justice framework (Devlieger, 1999) the present research employed qualitative, semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions and play-based methods. Five children aged five to twelve were interviewed, each of whom were enrolled in EAT/I. The findings demonstrated the children’s appreciation for their experiences with horses and experiences at the farm. They provided insight into how EAT/I benefit them and contrasted these experiences to their lived experiences outside the farm. Keywords: Equine assisted therapy, sociology of childhood, children’s rights, mental health





Master of Arts


Early Childhood Studies

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type