A promise kept! Here finally the interview with Jessie Ansorge-Jeunier, doctor of psychology, who conducted his thesis on equine mediation !
Jessie's work is remarkable! For my part, I welcome with great interest the work and books of my sisters who give a breath of fresh air to our practice as a therapist! Writings, research coming ... there's something a little dust off our references in the field!
Happy reading! Sandie
Can you tell us about yourself and your background? What led you to write a thesis on equine mediation?
I am a clinical psychologist and has just completed a thesis on equine mediation. I did my studies half in Bordeaux, then I moved to Toulouse where I finished my studies. I've always been brought up in a rural environment and the animals were part of my daily life. They always attracted and fascinated me. My husband already had two donkeys when I knew him, and I immediately attached to these animals . I was seduced by their very sweet temperament and at the same time mischievous. It is very gratifying to live in contact with them, so it is quite natural that I became interested in the impact that pets can have on our well-being.
How did this thinking?
I went to see a professor at the University of Toulouse likely to be sensitized by this issue and have offered to work on this during my Master's Thesis 2 (DEA). He immediately agreed, although he did not work on animal mediation. However, as psychologist, psychomotor and involved in art therapy, he was quite open and competent to work on psychotherapy broadly publicized, and he was able to advise me, while also discovering this approach. Was refined together problems as and when we inquired about it. I made contact with institutions offering support including equine mediation, and I was able to get a clearer idea of what was in this area, and benefit from their experience. Most institutions have agreed to take me to watch the proceedings of the meetings, intervening with children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders (ASD, behavioral, emotional, intellectual disability), which focused on the my research.
Your thesis he was welcomed by the university?
I confess with my supervisor, we had to fight to impose this as a serious and worthwhile subject.
The defense of my DEA was quite challenging, with remarks on the part of some members of the jury at the edge of mockery. The animal was apparently little known mediation of these academics, practitioners, however in most cases, but not facing this approach. With this work, I hope to have at least piqued their curiosity.
The jury of my thesis was of course different, with university educated or already recognized for their involvement and contributions in this area. My thesis then was very well received and even welcomed, which was a great relief for me, and a great appreciation for all the people involved in this research (psychiatrists, nurse (s), special educators and patients).
How do you explain that this is a topic that receives little scientific interest as it is a practice developed over many years in the child and adolescent psychiatric services?
I think there are several aspects to consider.
First, do a search on animal mediation requires a fairly heavy device in time. In addition, we know the difficulties in evaluating psychotherapy at the methodological level. To compensate for the methodological bias, a large-scale study would be needed (on a large workforce, over long periods), but other problems as therapeutic groups are usually composed of small numbers (maximum of four to six patients) . This involves working together on several groups, which is complex to implement.
To this must be added the effect of the relationship with the animal, difficult to theorize.
Finally, there is the representation of health care environment related to animal mediation.
Difficult for some practitioners to imagine that the introduction of an animal in the care device may change that. When the animal moves mediation certain previously intractable situations, it may be perceived as a personal failure, to create fear or denial.
In contrast, some practitioners are fascinated by the relationship of the patient with the animals who act according to them as a miracle cure. In this case, it remains in the register of the "elusive" and it is difficult to engage in a process of evaluation.
Our culture, our beliefs and fears shape our perceptions and judgment, and animals are present in all these records since our childhood. Even the "scientists" are subject to projections and fantasies.
You requested 600 institutions and have received hundreds of responses. A real work of ant ... On what basis did you build your survey and how did you go about collecting the data?
We asked 600 institutions Child Psychiatry (CHS Hospitals day) because it corresponded to the target population for my thesis.
Many other institutions have been contacted but we were also limited by cost. A questionnaire was sent to each of the 600 institutions with a stamped addressed envelope for the return, which was a significant amount of money, taken by my research team.
Shipments by e-mail have been made, but with little results. Addresses are often wrong, and messages can be mistaken for spam, or are not disclosed. Mail was more effective.
The questionnaire should be short enough for teams to want to learn, yet detailed enough to get complete answers.
The goal was to make an inventory of equine mediation, it was therefore to provide an overview of existing practices on the French territory, their age, the target populations and the general framework of the meetings (frequency, duration, location, animals used, personnel involved).
What inventory thus derived from this work? Can you draw a portrait type of equine mediation child and adolescent psychiatric services? Practices or are they rather heterogeneous?
So very stunning, while there is relatively little scientific literature, we have realized that the teams shared the same frame.
In 90% of cases, the equine mediation is practiced in public outdoor equestrian center structure carefully. Nurses and care workers supervise the weekly sessions over a period of one to two hours. Ponies are mainly used for their small size certainly seems more suited to a population of children. These are also supported groupal (4 to maximum 6 children) and relate mainly children with ASD.
Organizational constraints surely guide the conduct of meetings regarding the targets and how to achieve them, the teams are based on theoretical references related to the mediated therapies and the development of the child, including the concepts of holding and handling Winnicott attachment (Bowlby, Ainsworth) and separation with my skin Anzieu. Other reference books Renée Lubersac or Handi-riding are also used.
The implementation of this work was it difficult? What tools did you use to build this assessment?
The hardest part is to find institutions willing to open their doors for us to observe the conduct of meetings. This is the most work, because once the research field is found (which means that you have agreed on the research protocol, and that the teams adhere to your project), research can forward. In my case, four day hospitals have played the game I was lucky that each institution organizes sessions on different days of the week. I was able to attend all sessions for each hospital. This was time consuming and asked me for a high availability and a constant mobility, each hospital is located between 25 km and 60 km from my home.
On the observation fieldwork, I built two questionnaires because there is no validated assessment tool specifically for equine mediation. However, to build two types of questionnaires, I am inspired by the Adaptive Behavior Scale Magerotte (1978).
One was to caregivers accompanying children to ask them about the skills used by children during the activity, any progress observed during the sessions may also outside activity.
The other was for parents of children to ask them about the skills used by their child on a daily basis and any progress they have seen since the beginning of the support with equine mediation.
The questions were about the same questionnaire to each other in order to compare the results. Only the context of the response differed. The questions focused on nine dimensions, namely autonomy, motor development, expression, understanding, socialization, accountability, notions of space and time, efforts and perseverance behavior.
I have also done reports for each session by taking a chronological sessions and showing significant situations, verbalizations of each player ...
You have observed 23 children with various mental disorders in equine mediation sessions over a period of one to three years. What clinical analysis do you do? Therapeutic goals are being achieved for most? And what are the areas where results are most significant?
First, it is important to note that most of the "therapeutic" goals have been achieved, or were subject to improvement. On 50 work objectives targeted by the pony activity, eleven were not been achieved at the end of the first year outside the context of the activity. Among children who have benefited from a second year of support in the pony activity, only four goals do not seem to be affected at the end of the second year of support activities including pony.
Some of these goals were sometimes very small, but constituted real progress for children. There were sometimes that stimulate children's attention was difficult to mobilize. For others, it was to lead to a gradual empowerment, or to better manage emotions.
In order not to limit the work to a series of clinical cases unconnected, I conducted quantitative analyzes based on the scores for the different questionnaires filled at the end of each year of participation.
This allowed me to identify four distinct profiles children.
We found that each profile correspond difficulties and specific skills, social, emotional and cognitive motor, each profile is not necessarily made up of children with the same disorder. On the other hand, each profile has evolved differently during the sessions. Significant results have been measured in all areas, but not necessarily at the same time in the same child. Advances were rather based on the clinical profile of each child and targeted therapeutic goals.
Is that for some children, this support has proved to be a failure and have you seen as resistance to all therapeutic work? Can we generate one for that equine mediation was not appropriate profile of children?
Of course, like any support some children showed resistance more or less sustainable. For most, this was only temporary and the teams were able to adapt their intervention. For one of them, this has resulted in a cessation of activity.
Finally, one of the profiles of children, support has actually been less effective, with few significant results. There were children with an array of quite heavy disorder Pervasive Development. They had no access to language, suffered significant psychomotor and intellectual disabilities. The lack of significant progress can be explained in several ways:
- Difficulties too great to significant change is observed in a few months
- A particular posture caregivers often clueless about such serious symptomatology. Presumably the way of understanding equine mediation in this case, more on the order of that of the occupational therapy, which has an impact on the effects of the treatment.
If so, can it be more targeted 'therapeutic indications "? For therapeutic mediation, the framework put in place in my opinion is one of the key elements to a successful management. Can you confirm with your study or identify specific therapeutic context of equine mediation?
It is difficult to answer catégoriquemen t on indications favor because we lack data. Compared to the research I've done, it seems that the emotional and behavioral disorders are a particularly appropriate during mediation sessions equine response.
The frame containing implemented by caregivers around this activity is certainly the key. Of course, the animal itself is not therapeutic. His presence, his behavior and the possibilities offered by the horse (grooming, riding, psychomotor exercises ...) generate a multitude of feelings and emotions in patients. But it is then give meaning to those feelings, to put into words, in a safe environment.
Unlike other commonly used mediation (painting, modeling clay ...) the animal is alive, with his temperament, its own customs, its mode of communication be. The horse show his disagreement unambiguously if faced with a behavior it considers threatening or cause discomfort to him.
This is a very practical way to confront a person in inappropriateness of his behavior, especially as it does not happen in animals, the use of language. This work of "decoding" the behavior of the animal and symbolization be done by including caregivers and riding instructor. Gradually, we see these children adapt their behavior to relate to the animal, but also with other people in the group. They experience a different way of communicating calmer, and immediately see the result, which is rewarding for them, and encourage them to continue their efforts. It is also a fun activity, rich in all forms of stimulation, usually a source of pleasure. Their attention is more easily captured and can be maintained over long periods, which also promotes learning.
What are your limits equine mediation?
Cost, a fairly heavy logistics (outside equestrian center requiring a vehicle for transport), significant human resources. All this makes the renewal project of random activity from one year to another because the budgets tend to decline year on year.
How open can you do on your job? Another search?
It would of course confirm these results on a larger population. Many extensions are possible depending on the animals used and targeted populations. The prison makes increasingly implement initiatives animal mediation, which further opens up a field of unknown application.
What are your plans?
I continue to engage in research related to animal mediation. My thesis is complete, I would like to find a job as a psychologist in a specialized institution that agrees to develop an activity equine mediation.
Have you read the book Sandrine Willems, the animal soul , and what did you think?
I did not read it, but I heard in an interview on France Culture when she presented her work.
It seems that emphasizes the specificity of the animal and what it brings to the singular relationship. There is no substitute for the relationship to a human through a relationship with the animal, which actually seems fundamental.
It also stresses the value of an intervention animals with populations of adults, even in later life, which is an application of some lesser known animal mediation because it is often associated with children taken into care .
However, it seems to me that places great emphasis on the importance of the uniqueness of the relationship between the animal and the person receiving care, refusing to "classes" and therefore ask for directions. Yet it I think the challenge now is just to better understand the potential applications of animal mediation, and the most relevant information. This is not in order to be "profitable", but it is providing support best suited to people according to their needs.
. Without falling into the trap of taking a stereotypical office or seeking productivity, I think everyone would benefit from better understanding of the indications preferred according to a particular type of care, but this n ' is not only valid for the animal mediation, and it is a debate that affects the entire field of psychotherapy.
Which animal fiction, comics, series ... would you like to work?
Sensitized equine environment, I naturally low Jolly Jumper. He is incredibly intelligent, and it is a kind of alter ego Lucky Luke, it protects, trying to get out of dangerous situations, and at the same time, he can be stubborn and mischievous as a horse can the be ...
Jessie thank you and see you soon for new items!
For more information:
- Our ticket: Equine mediation institutions infant and child care.
- Sandrine Willems's book, " The Animal soul. The animal-prone psychotherapy accompanied by animals ", Editions du Seuil, 2011, 352 p., 23 euros