Adding Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy to Conventional Treatments: A Pilot Study Exploring Ways to Increase Adult Female Self-Efficacy among Victims of Interpersonal Violence

  • Wanda Kay Whittlesey-Jerome New Mexico State University
Keywords: equine-assisted psychotherapy, female victims, self-efficacy


This mixed-methods exploratory pilot study examined the impact of equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) on self-efficacy of 14 adult female victims of interpersonal violence (IV). For eight weeks, the experimental group added a weekly two-hour EAP session to existing treatments. The comparison group received regular group therapy sessions. Both groups received the same curriculum, the main difference between groups the addition of EAP to the treatments already in progress. Data were collected using the General Self-Efficacy Scale, Beck’s Depression Inventory, Burns’ Anxiety Scale, and the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale. Results showed the EAP group with greater improvement across self-efficacy, depression, and general assessment of functioning. Qualitative data added insight and clearly articulated some of the mechanisms underlying benefits conveyed from the addition of EAP to conventional treatments.  This pilot study contributes to the growing evidence base for the use of equines in behavioral health treatment with adult female victims of IV.

Author Biography

Wanda Kay Whittlesey-Jerome, New Mexico State University
I am associate professor in the School of Social Work at NMSU. I have taught at the university level for over 20 years, and practiced professionally for 12 years with under-served and under-represented populations. I am focusing my academic research on measuring the impact of equines in behavioral health treatment as an addition to conventional therapies.