Equine Programs for Military Veterans and RCMP Officers with Occupational Stress Injuries: A Qualitative Analysis

Authors

  • Marla J. Buchanan The University of British Columbia
  • Colleen Haney University of British Columbia
  • Katie N. Grimes University of British Columbia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.47634/cjcp.v55i2.70872

Abstract

Alternative approaches to mental health and support programming for military veterans and for officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with occupational stress injuries have recently received attention in the field of post-traumatic stress. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the experiences of military veterans and actively serving RCMP officers with occupational stress injuries who participated in an exploratory study using an equine-assisted learning program. Using a focus group research design, 20 veterans and five RCMP officers were interviewed about their experiences in a 4-week equine-assisted learning program. A thematic content analysis, following Braun and Clarke’s (2006) method, revealed five main themes: (1) appreciation for the value of learning new skills, (2) connection with the horse in terms of the human–animal bond, (3) self-regulation and learning to “speak horse,” (4) sense of accomplishment and competence, and (5) transferable skills to everyday life. The qualitative findings of this study provide support for the use of equine-assisted learning programming with military veterans and RCMP members and demonstrate potential as an alternative therapeutic intervention for occupational stress injuries in these populations.

Author Biographies

Marla J. Buchanan, The University of British Columbia

Marla J. Buchanan is a professor in the counselling psychology program in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. She teaches and provides graduate supervision in both the master’s program and the doctoral program. Her research interests are in the field of traumatic stress studies. She has conducted research on women in prison, veterans, first responders, Chinese Canadians, and Indigenous people.

Colleen Haney, University of British Columbia

Colleen Haney is a senior lecturer in the counselling psychology program in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests are in equine research with veterans and RCMP members who have occupational stress injuries.

Katie N. Grimes, University of British Columbia

Katie N. Grimes is a PhD student of counselling psychology in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include the human–animal bond, animal-assisted interventions, and animal-assisted therapies, with a focus on the relationship between humans and equines and their therapeutic implications as it relates to the context of counselling psychology.

Published

2021-07-20

How to Cite

Buchanan, M. J., Haney, C., & Grimes, K. N. (2021). Equine Programs for Military Veterans and RCMP Officers with Occupational Stress Injuries: A Qualitative Analysis. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 55(2). https://doi.org/10.47634/cjcp.v55i2.70872

Issue

Section

Articles/ Articles