Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Horsemanship-Therapeutic use, Psychotherapists-Psychology, Equine therapy, Horses, Therapist perspective


This study was undertaken to examine therapists' perspectives of the impact that working with horses through equine therapy has on their lives. The researcher conducted semi-structured, open-ended interviews with eight equine therapists who held various advanced degrees in schools of mental health including social work, counseling, and psychology, as well as at least one year of professional experience working as an equine therapist. This study explored the effects on one's personal and professional life of working with horses. The study looked to identify participants' experiences as equine therapists through their origins as equine therapists, changes that occurred in their personal lives since becoming equine therapists, the positive and negative impacts working as equine therapists had on their live, and how working with a horse may have changed their experiences as a clinician. The findings exposed the many benefits and few disadvantages of working as an equine therapist. The study results also revealed lifestyle changes that occurred since working as an equine therapist, the important role the horse plays in the therapeutic relationship between equine therapist and client, and the effect of the setting where equine therapy is conducted. Finally, the study revealed many similarities between participants' responses of how equine therapy affects their lives and the current research in the equine therapy field about the benefits for clients working with equine therapy.




iii, 45 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 40)