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Equine-Assisted Social Work:
It's Nature-Based...

Wild horses looking acress a pond. Image by Chris Spalton


Nature is a representation of systems. Social Work exists within and examines systems. For systems to work effectively, there needs to be a connection. In social work practice, establishing a connection is the starting point. This connection should be genuine and meaningful. To achieve this, it's crucial to consider the location and environment to create an authentic connection. Equine Assisted Social Work (EASW) in the great outdoors can facilitate basic connection skills that can be transferred to working with people.

Biophilia Hypothesis

E.O. Wilson is credited with naming the Biophilia Hypothesis (Kellert & Wilson, 1984).
Essentially, the Biophilia Hypothesis purports that humans have a biological imperative to be connected to nature. Humans have spent 99.9% of recorded history in nature versus built and urban environments.

Space and place matter. Consider the experience for clients when trying to connect with one another indoors, across desks, or through the internet versus connecting with one another without walls, moving within nature.

(Moshe-Grodofsky & Alhuzail, 2021).

Two teenagers walking a small horse between them

Horses Facilitate a Connection to Nature 

If our biological imperative is to connect to nature, then we need to create spaces and opportunities where connection happens. Adding nature into treatment sessions is one such opportunity.  By including nature in social work sessions, the possibility to connect authentically is enhanced. This authentic connection is foundational and essential for social work service.

It’s Horses in Nature

To effectively connect people with the services and resources they need, it's crucial to establish an authentic connection with them. Horses can facilitate this connection by helping individuals establish a relational bond with humans. This approach is effective for all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. It aligns with the principles of anti-oppressive practice, as described by Legge (2019). Consider adopting this model to enhance your ability to serve and support those in need.

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