Therapeutic horsemanship and children adopted from foster care : a case study analysis using mixed methods
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The purpose of this study was to explore the potential benefits of a therapeutic horsemanship program for children adopted from foster care and their adoptive mothers. Standardized measures, open-ended interviews and surveys were administered to determine effects on external child behavior, child self-esteem and parenting stress. The Child Behavior Checklist was administered to measure behavioral challenges in the children in this sample. There were no statistically significant changes on any of the CBCL scales. Qualitative data from the mothers, Instructors and researcher observations show some affect on behavior. The Culture Free Self-Esteem Inventory-3 was administered to measure self-esteem of the nine children in the sample. The decrease on the Global Self-Esteem Quotient of the CFSEI-3 was statistically significant using. Of the nine children, only three of them scored in the clinical range at pre-test. Of these three, two moved into the normal range and the third improved her score to be very close to the normal range. Qualitative data from the mothers, Instructors and researcher observations support this finding. The Total Stress score of the Parenting Stress Index -- Short Form for the mothers in the sample did not show a statistically significant decrease. Six of the nine mothers' pre-test and post-test scores were in the clinical range and only three had decreased post-test scores. The Qualitative data obtained through interviews, surveys and observations did not support a direct impact of the program on stress levels but rather an impact on level of support. Many mothers reported that they liked spending time with the other mothers to share resources and discuss their children. The data collected in this study does not provide sufficient evidence to make any causal statements about therapeutic horsemanship programs and children adopted from foster care. It does, however, provide support for the need for future research. The findings from this study have implications for meeting the needs of a variety of children adopted from foster and their adoptive parents.