Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Shelley Green

Committee Member

Christopher Burnett

Committee Member

Martha Marquez


The Introduction to Equine Assisted Family Therapy course offered at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) provides Master’s and Doctoral level student therapists the opportunity to learn how to conduct an equine session and how to utilize horses as part of the therapeutic process. Students learn about the underlying theories and framework behind the equine activities and methodology, as well as participate in the equine activities themselves. For the purpose of this study, classroom discussions centered around processing the students’ experiences and were further enriched by viewing photographs and videos that had been taken of the students conducting the equine activities. The researcher utilized IPR as a qualitative methodology to create an improved perspective where students reflected on their experience and made connections with their professional and personal developments.

The findings of this grounded theory study document how students reflected on their personal and clinical development. More specifically, the transcripts of the conversations that took place during class discussions and interviews from students who took the course a year earlier showed that students reflected on their personal awareness, created changes in their relationships, developed their self of the therapist, honed in on their clinical skills and started viewing therapy differently. This study confirmed the transformative nature that the Introduction to Equine Assisted Therapy course has on the students.