Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Animal Science


Jogan, Kathi

Committee Member/Reader

Wood, Lisa

Committee Member/Second Reader

Whitehead, Isabel


Equine Assisted Activity and Therapy (EAAT) programs have proven beneficial for individuals with mental, physical and psychological ailments. Only in the last few years have court systems begun to utilize the complex nature of the human-horse relationship to benefit the lives of court-involved youth. Despite its novelty, the few existing studies in this field yield positive results (Frederick et al., 2015). To address the need for further research in this area, a pilot study was conducted. An exploratory survey was given to EAAT professionals to determine their views on the effects of EAAT programs on hope and depression in court-involved youth. The first survey questions are related to the EAAT professionals’ demographics, work style, and EAAT training. The remaining survey questions were based on the Adolescent-Domain Specific Hope Scale, the Major Depression Inventory, and existing literature. These questions asked EAAT professionals to reference their personal observations of court-involved youth who participated in an EAAT program to determine if the behaviors exhibited by the youth indicated increased hope and decreased depression. The results of this pilot study revealed that EAAT professionals observed signs of increased hope and decreased depression in court-involved youth who participated in an EAAT program. Additional benefits highlighted by participants were increased self-confidence, reduced anxiety, an improved ability of court-involved youth to relate to others, and greater success in other areas of life outside the EAAT program. This pilot study can be expanded in the future to conduct research aimed at helping EAAT professionals determine perceived success or failure of an EAAT program for court-involved youth.


equine-assisted activities and therapies, hope, depression, court-involved youth, protective factor, alternative treatment