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Equine-Assisted Social Work

A Social Work Practice Model

What is EASW?

  • Equine-Assisted Social Work (EASW) combines horses with traditional social work practices.

  • Horses play a crucial role in promoting balance, connection, and non-verbal communication.

  • Participants must use their body language and energy to interact with the horse.

  • The experience is challenging yet rewarding.

  • EASW has been shown to be an effective complement to traditional social work practices.

  • EASW provides additional benefits for those participating.

"Authentic connections occur when a horse is added into the treatment session"
(Carlsson et al., 2014)
Catharina Carlsson, PhD
(Coined EASW)
Our students need experiential field placements.
When a student must manage their self before a client and a horse, the core competencies of service, social justice and  more come to life"
MaryBeth Ali, MSW 
(Professor, Social Work Field Education)
“Clients get 100% of me as a social worker when a horse in nature is added, rather than the 60% or 70% of me in a traditional office setting"
S6-Respondent to Qualitative Research Study-IRB # Pro2021002055

 EASW as a Complement or Alternative to Traditional Social Work Practice

Practical - Ethical - Instinctive - Inclusive - Authentic - Fun
Experiential - Hopeful - Novel - Alternative

Interaction between client, SW and horse
  • Adding a horse into treatment adds an authentic and ever-changing dynamic.

  • A horse does not acknowledge social constructs such as age, gender, race, country of origin, language, religion, politics, or socio-economics.

  • The horse responds to the energy present and whether there is safety or danger.

  • The horse will yield away from risk or pressure.

  • The horse added into the social work arena diffuses the power traditionally given to a social worker.

  • The client's power is elevated to the same footing as the social worker.

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Interaction between SW, client and horse

Learn More:
Online learning series

  • A qualitative Research Study was designed and executed in 2021.

  • 12 social workers with minimum master's level graduate degrees and certification from an accredited Equine Assisted Services Organization participated in the study.

  • The study aimed to learn about the experiences in the field of Equine-Assisted Services.

  • The implications from the study indicated a need to create a practice model and build a community around the ethical practice of equine-assisted services performed by a social worker.

  • Equine-Assisted Social Work (EASW) is one such model.

  • The online learning series will establish the foundations of Equine-Assisted Social Work (EASW).

EASW logo
Young person kissing a horse Image by Jusdevoyage
 Person's hand on a horse's neck Image by Rex Pickar
Two horses with one person Image by dylan nolte
Equine Assisted Social Work .org logo
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