Date of Award


Degree Type



Counseling, Administration, Supervision and Adult Learning

First Advisor

Perry, Justin

Subject Headings

Horsemanship -- Therapeutic use, Human-animal relationships, Special education, Emotional problems of children -- Education, equine assisted activities, special education, emotional disturbance, therapeutic horseback riding


This study evaluated the effects of a 10-week Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) program on special education students (aged 9 to 15) identified as Emotionally Disturbed (ED) who were enrolled in an alternative school. A control group of special education students receiving treatment-as-usual was included. The Behavior Assessment Scale for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2 Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004) measured change in emotional, behavioral, and school functioning, and adaptive skills. The Self-Report of Personality (SRP), Teacher Report Scale (TRS) and Parent Report Scale (PRS) forms of the BASC-2 (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004) were used to triangulate outcome data reported by the students, teachers, and parents. Two central hypotheses were tested. First, the treatment group would evidence significant reductions in emotional, behavior, and school problems and significant increases in adaptive skills as compared to the control group at post-test these improvements, in turn, would be maintained at a three-month follow-up. Second, the treatment group would evidence significantly fewer missed school days, higher GPAs, and higher behavioral point percentages at post-test in comparison to the control group these improvements, in turn, would be maintained at a three-month follow-up. Results indicated that, according to teachers' ratings, participants who participated in 10 weeks of EAA intervention had statistically significant reductions in Externalizing Problems scores and marginally significant reductions in Behavior Symptoms Index BASC composite scores. Results were not significant for all other variables however, students tended to under-report symptoms and over-report adaptive skills. Although there are over 40,000 individuals with disabilities receiving services from EAA programs every year, there is scant experimentally designed research which has tested the effects of such programs. The present study, therefore, makes an important contribution to the field of EAA research. Future directions for research and clin

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Counseling Commons