• Maria Gavigan
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
The main focus of this paper has been to examine the relationship bewteen low self-esteem and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), this leading to the creation of the following problem formulation: What role can Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) play in the treatment of low self-esteem, when dealing with a specific type of EAP mentioned as "Riding therapy"? To illuminate the problem formulation the following research questions were created: How and why can Equine Assisted Psychotherapy work on a client – what psychological principles can it be based on? What role can the horse play in the therapy – why not use a dog instead of a horse? Can low self-esteem be an especially suited treatment subject for this type of therapy? Theese questions a long with the chosen theoretical contributions was the base for the interview guides used in the empirical investigation. The research method was a qualitative interview with a client formerly receiving Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and the psychologist practicing the therapy. The two different angles were included hoping to give a varied perspective in accordance to the problem formulation. Seeing low self-esteem was the primary topic of investigation three main theorists were selected for the theoretical section. They were chosen due to the broad theoretical stand and implications they represented: 1) The person who created the term “self-esteem” in psychology, William James, for whom the very concept had to do with competence and success within important areas of life, 2) Morris Rosenberg who influenced by Cooley and Mead determined self-esteem as a specific kind of attitude, particularly towards the self, reflecting either worthiness or worthlessness, and 3) Susan Harter who incorporates both James and Rosenbergs theoretical contributions with developmental psychology. The investigation let me to the following conclusion: This type of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (Riding therapy) combined with classical conversational therapy did apparently increase the self-esteem of this client. The client seemed to have competence based self-esteem before entering the riding therapy treatment, and seemed to have authentic high self-esteem after the therapy. From a theoretical stand it might be suggested, that this kind of therapy contributed to the client experiencing: 1) more competence, 2) succesfull experiences and 3) a higher inner balance, which apparently led to the development of a higher self-esteem. This is theoretically supported by the three main theorists in the paper (James, Rosenberg and Harter). Meanwhile it seems that there are two other factors that apparently led to the client getting a higher self-esteem, that being: 4) positive feedback and 5) a secure base offered by the horse. Both of these factors can be theoretically supported by Albert Bandura and John Bowlby. Finally with regard to the generalization possibilities, from this investigation to other cases, it can be argued that the results of this paper might be used to make assumptions in other cases, as long as they are highly comparable. It also seems likely that investigators trying to compare results have to be dealing with the same kind of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. This argument is based on the confusion surrounding the very definition of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy making it difficult to compare results from one kind of EAP therapy to another.
Publication date2 Aug 2010
Number of pages79
Publishing institutionAAU
ID: 35094530