Exploring equine assisted psychotherapy for adolescents in residential care

Hurwitz, Jaqueline (2013-12)

Thesis (MEd(Psych))-- Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The background experiences of adolescents removed from their families and placed in residential care are often characterised by trauma, abuse and neglect, resulting in significant psychological and developmental implications. However, as a result of their negative past experiences, many of these individuals view other people, including helping professionals, with mistrust or apprehension, influencing their openness to and thus the effectiveness of traditional psychotherapeutic interventions. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is explored within this study as an alternative non-invasive approach which aims to meet the emotional and developmental needs of vulnerable and difficult-to-reach adolescents. Innate characteristics of horses seem to encourage individuals to engage fully in the psychotherapeutic process making them well-suited to the role of co-therapist within the therapeutic team. This study aimed to explore the experiences of adolescents living within residential care who had participated in an EAP program for approximately eight months, and the affects their participation had within their lives. A qualitative study founded within the interpretive paradigm was used to gain insight into the research questions. Participants were selected using purposive and convenient sampling techniques. Following this, data was obtained through semi-structured interviews, the researcher’s reflective journal, and a focus group discussion. Inductive data segmentation and reassembling techniques were utilised to analyse the data. The findings were integrated and presented as a case study. The research findings indicated that the participants experienced various learning and development opportunities through their participation in EAP. They were able to establish connections which led to improved psychological, social, and physical well-being. The implicit integration of the Circle of Courage principles of mastery, belonging, generosity and independence within the EAP process was also explored and documented for the first time within this text. The findings were related to resilience theory in order to depict EAP as a psychotherapeutic approach which serves to foster resilience for vulnerable adolescents, namely those placed within residential care in this study.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die agtergrond ervaringe van adolessente wat verwyder is uit hul ouerhuise en in residensiële sorg geplaas is, word dikwels gekenmerk deur trauma, mishandeling en verwaarlosing, met beduidende gepaardgaande sielkundige - en ontwikkelingsimplikasies. Voortvloeiend uit hul negatiewe ervaringe van die verlede, is dit moeilik vir sommige van hierdie individue om ander mense, en dit sluit professionele mense in die hulp-professies in, te vertrou en sonder bedugtheid te benader. Dit beïnvloed hul openlikheid en dus die effektiwiteit van tradisionele psigoterapeutiese intervensies. Perd-ondersteunde psigoterapie (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, EAP) word ondersoek in hierdie studie as ‘n alternatiewe, nie-indringende benadering, waarvan die doel is om die emosionele - en ontwikkelingsbehoeftes van weerlose en moeilik-bereikbare adolessente mee aan te spreek. Dit wil voorkom asof ingebore eienskappe van perde individue aanmoedig om ten volle deel te neem aan die psigoterapeutiese proses, en dit maak die perde baie geskik om as hulp-terapeute op te tree binne die terapeutiese span. Hierdie studie beoog om die ervaringe van adolessente in residensiële sorg, en wat vir agt maande deelgeneem het aan ‘n EAP program, te ondersoek, sowel as die effek wat hierdie deelname op hul lewens gehad het. ‘n Kwalitatiewe studie gebaseer op die interpretatiewe paradigma is gebruik om insig te verkry in die navorsingsvrae. Deelnemers is geselekteer deur doelgerigte - en gerieflikheidstegnieke te gebruik. Hierna is data verkry deur semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, die navorser se reflektiewe joernaal en ‘n fokusgroep onderhoud. Induktiewe data segmentasie en hersamestellingstegnieke is gebruik om die data te analiseer. Die bevindinge is geïntegreer en aangebied as ‘n gevallestudie. Die bevindige van die studie dui aan dat die deelnemers verskeie leer- en ontwikkelingsgeleenthede ervaar het deur hul deelname aan EAP. Hulle was in staat om konneksies te maak wat bygedra het tot sielkundige, sosiale en fisiese welsyn. The research findings indicated that the participants experienced various learning and development opportunities through their participation in EAP. Die implisiete integrasie van die beginsels van die ‘Circle of Courage’, naamlik bemeestering, behoort aan, ruimhartigheid en onafhanklikheid, is binne die EAP proses ondersoek en vir die eerste keer in hierdie teks gedokumenteer. Die bevindinge is vergelyk met veerkragtigheid teorie om EAP as ‘n psigoterapeutiese benadering te beskryf wat veerkragtigheid aanmoedig by weerlose adolessente, naamlik dié wat in residensiële sorg geplaas is en aan hierdie studie deelgeneem het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85745
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