Equine-assisted Social Work Counteracts Self- stigmatisation in Self-harming Adolescents and Facilitates a Moment of Silence
2017 (English)In: Journal of Social Work Practice, ISSN 0265-0533, E-ISSN 1465-3885Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
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.
adolescents, authentic, equine-assisted social work, moment of silence, self-injury, self-stigmatisation
Research subject Social Sciences, Social Work
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60213DOI: 10.1080/02650533.2016.1274883OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-60213DiVA: diva2:1068469