Effects of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy On Psychological Well-Being of Professionals Working With Trauma Victims
Methods: The sample of this study consists of 44 staff that are employed at a social service agency in California who provide services to survivors of domestic violence. The agency assigned the staff who indicated their desire to receive EAP into an experimental group (n=20) and the rest into a comparison group (n=24). A licensed therapist and an equine professional provided a 6-week EAP intervention to 20 staff in the experimental group. A standardized instrument, The Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQol), was used to measure the subjects’ level of burnout and secondary trauma before and after the intervention.
Results: Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted to evaluate the effects of EAP on burnout and secondary trauma. After adjusting for pretest scores, there was significant difference between the intervention group and comparison group on burnout score: F (1, 41) = 9.24, p = 0.04, partial eta squared = 0.18. There was also a strong relationship between the pretest and posttest scores on burnout level: partial eta squared value = 0.44, p < 0.001. In addition, ANCOVA produced a significant difference between the intervention group and comparison group on secondary trauma: F (1, 41) =4.70, p = 0.036. A strong relationship between the pretest and posttest scores on secondary trauma was found: partial eta squared value = 0.72, p < 0.001.
Conclusions: The study findings that show a significant reduction in burnout and secondary trauma among the EAP recipients imply that EAP could be an effective intervention to improve psychological well-being of professionals who work with trauma survivors. Accordingly, social service agencies need to develop creative ways to promote their employees’ mental health. The findings of this study suggest that EAP could be an effective option to enhance mental health of professionals at social service agencies.