Advertisement

Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 319–336 | Cite as

A Healing Space: The Experiences of First Nations and Inuit Youth with Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL)

  • Colleen Anne DellEmail author
  • Darlene Chalmers
  • Nora Bresette
  • Sue Swain
  • Deb Rankin
  • Carol Hopkins
Original Paper

Abstract

The Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre (NNHC) in Muncey, ON provides residential treatment to First Nations and Inuit youth who abuse solvents. As a complement to its culture-based programming, in 2008 the centre began offering weekly equine-assisted learning (EAL) curriculum to its clients in partnership with the Keystone Equine Centre and the Lambton Equine Assisted Learning Centre. This study explores the potential benefit of the EAL program on youths’ healing. We conducted 15 interviews with two intakes of male and female EAL program participants and 6 NNHC and EAL staff, reviewed EAL facilitator and NNHC staff reflections and participants’ EAL journals, and observed the EAL program. It was concluded that youths’ healing was aided through the availability of a culturally-relevant space; from within an Aboriginal worldview this understanding of space is central to individual and communal well-being. This was conveyed in three key themes that emerged from the data: spiritual exchange, complementary communication, and authentic occurrence. This understanding provides insight into the dynamics of healing for Aboriginal youth who abuse solvents, and may be applicable to other programming and populations.

Keywords

First Nations Inuit Youth Equine-assisted learning Healing Solvent abuse 

References

  1. Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing Centre. (2003). Mission [Webpage]. Retrieved from http://www.nimkee.ca/mission.asp.
  2. Basile, R. B. (1997). The psychological effects of equine facilitated psychotherapy on behavior and self-esteem in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Scientific Journal of Therapeutic Riding, 3, 10–15.Google Scholar
  3. Benton-Banai, E. (1988). The Mishomis book. Minnesota: Indian Country Press.Google Scholar
  4. Berg, B. (1998). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (3rd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  5. Besthorn, F., & Canda, E. (2002). Revisioning environment: Deep ecology for education and teaching social work. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 22, 79–101. doi: 10.1300/J067v22no1_07.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bettmann, J., & Jasperson, R. (2009). Adolescents in residential and inpatient treatment: A review of the outcome literature. Child & Youth Care Forum, 38(4), 161–183. doi: 10.1007/s10566-009-9073-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bizub, A., Joy, A., & Davidson, L. (2003). “It’s like being in another world”: Demonstrating the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with psychiatric disability. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 26(4), 377–384.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonner, A., & Tolhurst, G. (2001). Insider-outsider perspective of participant observation. Nurse Researcher, 9, 7–19.Google Scholar
  9. Bowers, M., & MacDonald, P. (2001). The effectiveness of equine-facilitated psychotherapy with at-risk adolescents. Journal of Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences, 15, 62–76.Google Scholar
  10. Boyatzis, R. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Brandt, K. (2004). A language of their own: An interactionist approach to human-horse communication. Society and Animals, 12, 299–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brooks, S. (2006). Animal-assisted psychotherapy and equine-facilitated psychotherapy. In N. B. Webb (Ed.), Helping traumatized youth in child welfare: Perspectives of mental health and children’s services practitioners (pp. 196–217). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  13. Brouillette, M. (2006). The psychological impact of equine-assisted therapy on special education students (Unpublished master’s thesis). Walden University, Minnesota.Google Scholar
  14. Burgon, H. (2003). Case studies of adults receiving horse-riding therapy. Anthrozoos, 16(30), 263–276.Google Scholar
  15. Cajete, G. (2000). Native science: Natural laws of interdependence. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. (2008). CIHR guidelines for health research involving Aboriginal people. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada.Google Scholar
  17. Casey, K., Reid, R., Trout, A., Hurley, K. D., Chmelka, M., & Thompson, R. (2010). The transition status of youth departing residential care. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(5), 323–340. doi: 10.1007/s10566-010-9106-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chardonnens, E. (2009). The use of animals as co-therapists on a farm: The child-horse bond in person-centered equine-assisted psychotherapy. PCEP Journal of the World Association for Experiential and Person-Centered Experiential Psychotherapy and Counseling, 8(4), 319–332.Google Scholar
  19. Coates, J. (2003). Ecology and social work: Toward a new paradigm. Halifax, NS: Fernwood.Google Scholar
  20. Creswell, J. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among the five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Crowfoot-Graham, T. L., Cellarius, K., Clothier, P., Moore, L., & Hawkins, J. (2001). Transition programs in Indian Country. Seattle, WA: Casey Family Programs.Google Scholar
  22. Deaton, D. (2005). Humanizing prisons with animals: A closer look at “cell dogs” and horse programs in correctional institutions. Journal of Correctional Education, 56(1), 46–62.Google Scholar
  23. Dell, C., Chalmers, D., Dell, D., Sauve, E., & MacKinnon, T. (2008). Horse as healer: Applying equine assisted learning to uncover and strengthen the spirit of First Nations youth who abuse solvents. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health, 6(1), 81–106.Google Scholar
  24. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2008). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The landscape of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 1–43). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Drawe, H. L. (2001). An animal-assisted therapy program for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioural disorders [Abstract]. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Science and Engineering 61 (11-B).Google Scholar
  26. Ewing, C., MacDonald, P., Taylor, M., & Bowers, M. (2007). Equine-facilitated learning in youths with severe emotional disorders: A quantitative and qualitative study. Child & Youth Care Forum, 36, 59–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB). (2010). Evidence-base/mental wellness research forum (Ottawa, 23 Feb). Retrieved from: http://www.nnadaprenewal.ca/sites/www.nnadaprenewal.ca/files/10_03_08/en/Key%20Findings%20NNADAP%20Renewal%20Research%20Forum_Feb%2023_09.pdf.
  28. Foley, A. J. (2007). A theoretical and evaluative study of an equine-assisted psychotherapy program for delinquent girls. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Atlanta, GA.Google Scholar
  29. Frame, D. (2006). Practices of therapists using equine facilitated/assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of adolescents diagnosed with depression: A qualitative study (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). New York University School of Social Work, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Frewin, K., & Gardiner, B. (2005). New age or old sage? A review of equine assisted psychotherapy. The Australian Journal of Counselling Psychology, 6, 13–17.Google Scholar
  31. Graham, J. (2007). An evaluation of equine-assisted wellness in those suffering from catastrophic loss and emotional fluctuations (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Utah, Salt Lake City.Google Scholar
  32. Hallberg, L. (2004). Not just horse’n around? Evaluating equine assisted psychotherapy as a therapeutic intervention in a mental health setting (Unpublished master’s project). Regina, SK: University of Regina.Google Scholar
  33. Hayden, A. (2005). An exploration of the experiences of adolescents who participated in equine facilitated psychotherapy: A resiliency perspective (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Alliant International University, San Diego.Google Scholar
  34. Heimlich, K. (2001). Animal-assisted therapy and the severly disabled child: A quantitiative study. The Journal of Rehabilitation, 67(4), 48–54.Google Scholar
  35. Held, C. A. (2006). Horse girl: An archetypal study of women, horses, and trauma healing (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Pacifica Graduate Institute, California.Google Scholar
  36. Hiller, M., Knight, K., & Simpson, D. (2002). Prison-based substance abuse treatment, residential aftercare and recidivism. Addiction, 94(6), 833–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hines, L. M. (2003). Historical perspectives on the human-animal bond. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(1), 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hopkins, C., & Dumont, J. (2010). Cultural healing practice within national native alcohol and drug abuse program/youth solvent addiction program services. Ottawa, ON: First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada.Google Scholar
  39. Hubbard, R., Craddock, S., & Anderson, J. (2003). Overview of 5-year follow up outcomes in the drug abuse treatment outcome studies (DATOS). Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 25(3), 125–134.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Iannone, V. (2003). Evaluation of a vocational and therapeutic riding program for severely emotionally disturbed adolescents (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The Catholic University of America, Washington.Google Scholar
  41. Jarrell, N. (2009). A healing triangle: Clients learn much about themselves through equine-assisted therapy. Addiction Professional, 7(1), 15–20.Google Scholar
  42. Jorgenson, J. (1997). Therapeutic use of companion animals in health care. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 29, 249–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jumper-Thurman, P., & Beauvais, F. (1997). Treatment of volatile solvent abusers. Substance Use and Misuse, 32(12/13), 1883–1888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kaiser, L., Spence, L., Lavergne, A., & Vanden Bosch, K. (2004). Can a week of therapeutic riding make a difference? A pilot study. Anthrozoos, 17(1), 63–72.Google Scholar
  45. Kakacek, S., & Ottens, A. (2008). An arena for success: Exploring equine-assisted psychotherapy. Michigan Journal of Counseling, 35(1), 14–23.Google Scholar
  46. Karol, J. (2007). Applying a traditional individual psychotherapy model to equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP): Theory and method. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12(1), 77–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kersten, G., & Thomas, L. (1997). Straight from the horse’s mouth: The truth about equine-assisted therapy. The Counsellor, 25, 18–24.Google Scholar
  48. Kirby, S., Greaves, L., & Reid, C. (2006). Experience, research, social change: Methods beyond the mainstream (2nd ed.). Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.Google Scholar
  49. Kirby, S., & McKenna, K. (1989). Methods from the margins: Experience, research, social change. Toronto, ON: Garamond Press.Google Scholar
  50. Klontz, B., Bivens, A., Leinart, D., & Klontz, T. (2007). The effectiveness of equine-assisted experiential therapy: Results of an open clinical trial. Society and Animals, 15, 257–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kruger, K., & Serpell, J. (2006). Animal-assisted interventions in mental health: Definitions and theoretical foundations. In A. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (2nd ed., pp. 21–38). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  52. Latella, D. (2003). Animals as a therapeutic modality: A curriculum model for occupational therapy. Bridgeport, CT: University of Bridgeport.Google Scholar
  53. Lawrence, E. A. (1998). Human and horse medicine among some Native American Groups. Agricultural and Human Values, 15, 133–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lefkowitz, C. I., Prout, M., Bleiberg, J., Paharia, I., & Debiak, D. (2005). Animal- assisted prolonged exposure: A treatment for survivors of sexual assault suffering posttraumatic stress disorder. Society and Animals, 13(4), 275–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Levinson, B. M. (1972). Pets and human development. Springfield, ILL: Thomas Books.Google Scholar
  56. MacKinnon, T. (2007). At the heart of equine-assisted learning. Saskatchewan: M.E.S. Ltd.Google Scholar
  57. Mallon, G. (1992). Utilization of animals as therapeutic adjuncts with children and youth: A review of the literature. Child & Youth Care Forum, 21, 53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Marbella, A., Harris, M., Diehr, S., Ignace, G., & Ignace, G. (1998). Use of Native American healers among Native American patients in an urban Native American health centre. Archives of Family Medicine, 7, 182–185.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. McAdam, S. (2009). Cultural teachings: First Nations protocols and methodologies. Saskatoon, SK: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre.Google Scholar
  60. McCormick, R. (2000). Aboriginal traditions in the treatment of substance abuse. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 34(1), 25–32.Google Scholar
  61. McNicholas, J., & Collis, G. (2006). Animals as social supports: Insights for understanding animal-assisted therapy. In A. Fines (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (2nd ed., pp. 49–71). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  62. Morrisseau, C. (1998). Into the daylight: A wholistic approach to healing. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  63. Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  64. Netting, F. E., Wilson, C. C., & New, J. C. (1987). The human-animal bond: Implications for practice. Social Work, 32(1), 60–64.Google Scholar
  65. Niccols, A., Dell, C. A., & Clarke, S. (2010). Treatment for Aboriginal mothers with substance use problems and their children. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8(2), 320–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  67. Pollack, S. (2009). Equine-assisted psychotherapy with women with addictions. Ottawa, ON: Wilfred Laurier University.Google Scholar
  68. Porter-Wenzlaff, L. (2007). Finding their voice: Developing emotional, cognitive, and behavioural congruence in female abuse survivors through equine facilitated therapy. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 3(5), 529–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Reichert, E. (1998). Individual counselling for sexually abused children: A role for animals and storytelling. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 15, 177–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Roberts, F., Bradberry, J., & Williams, C. (2004). Equine facilitated psychotherapy benefits students and children. Holistic Nursing Practice, 18(1), 32–35.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Robin, M., & ten Bensel, R. (1985). Pets and the socialization of children. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 63–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Ross, R. (2006). Dancing with a ghost: Exploring Indian reality. Toronto, ON: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  73. Sable, P. (1995). Pets, attachment, and well-being across the life cycle. Social Work, 40, 334–341.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Schnartz, B. (2004). Ownership, control, access, and possession (OCAP) or self- determination applied to research: A critical analysis of contemporary first nation’s research and some options for first nation’s communities. Ottawa, ON: First Nations Centre, National Aboriginal Health Organization.Google Scholar
  75. Schultz, B. (2005). The effects of equine-assisted psychotherapy on the psychosocial functioning of at-risk adolescents ages 12-18 (Unpublished counselling thesis). Denver Seminar, Denver.Google Scholar
  76. Simpson, D. (2002). A conceptual framework for transferring research to practice. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 22(4), 171–182.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  78. Speziale, H. S., & Carpenter, D. R. (2007). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing the humanistic imperative (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
  79. Tedeschi, P., Fitchett, J., & Molidor, C. (2005). The incorporation of animal-assisted interventions in social work education. Journal of Family Social Work, 9, 59–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Thorne, S. (2000). Data analysis in qualitative research. Evidence Based Nursing, 3, 68–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Torjman, S., Leviten-Reid, E., Camp, C., & Makhoul, A. (2001). From information to application: How communities learn. Ottawa, ON: Caledon Institute of Social Policy.Google Scholar
  82. Tramutt, J. (2003). Opening the gate: Cultivating self awareness and self acceptance through equine-assisted psychotherapy (Unpublished master’s thesis). Naropa University, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  83. Trotter, K. S., Chandler, C. K., Goodwin-Bond, D., & Casey, J. (2008). A comparative study of group equine assisted counselling with at-risk children and adolescents. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 3(3), 254–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Ungar, M. (2003). Deep ecology and the roots of resilience: The importance of setting in outdoor experienced-based programming for at-risk children. Critical Social Work, 4(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  85. West, D. (2007). Building a holistic environmental model for global social work. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 2(4), 61–65.Google Scholar
  86. Yorke, J., Adams, C., & Coady, N. (2008). Therapeutic value of equine-human bonding in recovery from trauma. Anthrozoos, 21(10), 17–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen Anne Dell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Darlene Chalmers
    • 2
  • Nora Bresette
    • 3
  • Sue Swain
    • 4
  • Deb Rankin
    • 5
  • Carol Hopkins
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and School of Public HealthUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of ReginaSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Nimkee NupiGawagan Healing CentreMunceyCanada
  4. 4.Keystone Equine CentreWest LorneCanada
  5. 5.Lambton Equine Assisted Learning CentreBrigdenCanada
  6. 6.National Native Addictions Partnership FoundationMuskodayCanada

Personalised recommendations