Equine Facilitated Mental Health Services and Social Adjustment in Adolescents on Probation
Little quantitative research has been done to verify claims that the use of horses in Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Education Services has an impact on the clients’ emotional and mental wellbeing. This study was created to determine if participation in six months of weekly involvement in an equine facilitated mental health program would lead to lower scores in an adjustment inventory, indicating greater social adjustment. The differences between pre-treatment and post-treatment scores on an adjustment inventory were measured as a function of participation in six months of weekly equine facilitated mental health sessions. Four participants were involved in the study. Two served as a control group and participated in traditional probation therapies and two served as the experimental group and were additionally enrolled in an equine facilitated mental health program. Based on test scores in an inventory of adolescent adjustment, the participants in the equine services show a decline in general adjustment as well as on subscales of Antisocial Behavior, Anger Control, Emotional Distress, and Positive Self. Discussion focuses on the implications of these data on the field of Equine Facilitated Mental Health Services, possible explanations for “acting out” behavior in adolescents and considerations for future studies.