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Equine-assisted Social Work Counteracts Self- stigmatisation in Self-harming Adolescents and Facilitates a Moment of Silence
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. (NÄTVERKET KRING STARK BARN- OCH UNGDOMSFORSKNING)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1134-1535
2017 (English)In: Journal of Social Work Practice, ISSN 0265-0533, E-ISSN 1465-3885Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study was to determine whether equine-assisted social work (EASW) could affect self-stigmatisation and thereby counteract false identities in self-harming adolescents. Data were collected via interviews with nine female self-harming clients aged 15–21 years and eight staff members. Interviews and video-recorded human–horse interactions with three staff members and four clients were analysed. The interviews were followed by further dialogue with participants while they viewed videos of their own EASW sessions. The analysis indicated that the horse had a calming effect on the clients; enabled them to free themselves of their preoccupations; provided real-time, non-verbal and non-judgmental feedback on their emotions; and increased feelings of trust, patience and empathy. The presence of a horse provided a ‘moment of silence’ for the clients, silencing their inner critic, and made them feel more authentic and better able to regulate their emotions. However, staff could counteract this ‘safe’ healing by being too focused on goals, making interpretations and lecturing and encouraging clients, thus making clients feel judged anyhow. EASW seemed to give clients the opportunity to break free from self-stigmatisation, which seemed to lower the barrier to change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2017.
Keyword [en]
adolescents, authentic, equine-assisted social work, moment of silence, self-injury, self-stigmatisation
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60213DOI: 10.1080/02650533.2016.1274883OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-60213DiVA: diva2:1068469
Available from: 2017-01-25 Created: 2017-01-25 Last updated: 2017-08-16
In thesis
1. Hästunderstött socialt arbete - ett samtalsrum med potentiella möjligheter för ungdomar med självskadebeteenden och deras personal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hästunderstött socialt arbete - ett samtalsrum med potentiella möjligheter för ungdomar med självskadebeteenden och deras personal
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis examines, through qualitative methods, the role of the horse in equine-assisted social work (EASW) as well as what facilitates or constrains the role of the horse. Specifically, should interaction be understood in the same manner regardless of which individuals that participate? The thesis is based on empirical data collected throughinterviews with eight staff members and nine female self-harming clients, aged 15–21 years, in a residential treatment facility. In addition, video recordings of the human-horse interaction of three staff members and four clients were analyzed, resulting in the additional issues addressed in a second interview. Critical dialogues between patterns and fragmentations in the narratives and video-recordings, as well as a dialogue with participants, while they were viewing videos of their own EASW sessions, led to the conclusion that adding a horse could qualitatively change therapeutic relationships. 

The results are presented in four articles that provide an image of the complexity of EASW. The summary chapters focus on a synthesized analysis, based on Goffman’sdramaturgical perspective and Hochschild’s emotional rules in which the concepts were applied: backstage, frontstage, impression management, stigma, emotional management, deep acting and surface acting. The analysis demonstrated that defense mechanisms are reduced when the horse is perceived as non-judgmental and therefore less intimidating. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that it is crucial that the horse is regarded as a subject, a transitional object, which can silence the inner critic and create a ‘moment of silence’ that contradicts stigmas and enablesadolescents to regulate their emotions. This leads to possibilities to be more authentic and the relationship between staff and adolescents to be perceived as more authentic. 

In summary, the work presented in this thesis contributes to increased knowledge about the role of the horse in opposing impression management and surface acting, depending on the high demands on staff to reach outcomes regarding communication, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-image. The different triads consist of different liaisons, giving rise to unique combinations and the potential to avoid emotional dissonance. The quality of the relationships seems to depend on staff and clients’ attachment orientations. 

Keywords: Authentic, Emotional work, Equine-assisted social work, Impression management, Moment of silence, Self-harming adolescents, Stigmatization

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2017. 127 p.
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 283/2017
Keyword
Authentic, Emotional work, Equine-assisted social work, Impression management, Moment of silence, Self-harming adolescents, Stigmatization
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-63873 (URN)978-91-88357-70-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-05-31, V159, Stagneliusgatan 14, Kalmar, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-19 Created: 2017-05-17 Last updated: 2017-08-16Bibliographically approved

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Carlsson, Catharina

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