Relationship enhancement for couples using equine facilitated psychotherapy techniques: A model program
The sequelae of unhappy marriages and committed relationships include a wide variety of social, legal and medical problems, but many people—especially men—are reluctant to participate in relationship distress prevention programs. The model relationship enhancement program described in this dissertation is based on the work of John M. Gottman and uses Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) exercises and techniques. Held at a horse barn, the program is conceptualized as a weekend seminar for four couples who self-identify as being in a committed long-term relationship. The co-facilitators include a licensed mental health professional who is credentialed to conduct EFP and a certified equine specialist. The goal of the program is to improve the couple's friendship and to provide psychoeducation about conflict management, stress reduction and dyadic dynamics. Couples interact with the same horse throughout the program, doing groundwork and leading exercises; riding is not part of the program. The program is appropriate for couples with low levels of distress who are considering marriage or civil partnership, or who want to enhance their relationship. Methods of evaluating the proposed program are included, as are detailed lesson plans and the psychoeducational materials for the participants.
0622: Clinical psychology