Alexis Skogen

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Kelly Dornbier


In 2015, over three million children who were affected by trauma or abuse were reported to Child Protective Services (Papovich, 2019). “Children in the foster care system have often been exposed to traumatic experiences such as violence, illicit substances, and neglect” (Crabill & Hanson, 2018, p.8). Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can be similar to experiencing trauma; children, prior to entering the foster care system, often experience ACEs (Craig, 2020). Children in the foster care system face hardships such as being taken out of their homes, passing through multiple homes, in addition to other childhood traumas they experience prior to their time in the foster care system. In 2019, 46% of children in foster care lived in a nonrelative foster home, 32% in a relative foster home, and 4% in a group home (Children’s Bureau, 2020). Equine-assisted therapy is a service provided by occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and speech therapists to assist with neurological and sensory needs (Koca, 2015). “Equine-assisted therapy broadly refers to any type of therapy or treatment that includes equine interactions, activities, or treatment strategies, and the equine milieu” (Hallberg, 2018, p.30). Horses provide a way for children in foster care to engage in activities that foster children have decreased experience in. There are many ways equine-assisted therapy can provide services to different populations; one area that has limited research is equine-assisted therapy with occupational therapy and children in foster care who have faced trauma leading to mental health challenges.