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Social Skills Improvement for an Adolescent Engaged in Equine Assisted Therapy: A Single Subject Study

11 December 2009


The use of animals for therapeutic purposes has been documented for centuries. There is much anecdotal literature touting the benefits of animal assisted therapy; however, there are few controlled studies supporting these claims. Therapy animals are often used with the child/adolescent population. The few controlled studies in this area suggest that there are benefits to children/adolescents when using animals in therapy. One benefit seen is an improvement in social skills; however, this has only been investigated in two studies. The following dissertation is a single subject study of an adolescent’s social skills during her engagement in 6 weeks of equine assisted therapy. The adolescent’s parent completed the Social Skills Rating Scale each week, before, during, and after her treatment. In contrast to the available studies, the results suggest that there were no positive or stable changes observed in the adolescent’s social skills during treatment, compared to her baseline scores. Reasons for this contradiction are examined and future research is recommended.


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