Webinar event date: 
Mar 19, 2019 12:00 pm EDT
Webinar Presenters: 

Gail Wideman PhD, RSW

An associate professor in the School of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Gail’s practice and research has focused on community capacity building. Gail is also a military Mom.  Her son Casey has served 20 years in the Canadian Armed Forces.  Combining these professional and personal interests, in 2016, Gail hosted the first meeting of the Atlantic Region Military and Veterans Families Leadership Circle.  The focus of what has now become an annual event is to engage civilian and military service providers with researchers from the Atlantic region in a discussion of common goals related to the promotion of best practices in support of serving, reserve, and retired military personnel and their families.   In a related research endeavor, Gail has been working with Rhonda Fiander at Equi-Assist in an evaluation of the impact of equine assisted practice as a treatment modality with military and Veteran personnel and their families.


Rhonda Fiander MSW, RSW

Rhonda has been actively working in the area of mental health, family violence, sexual abuse, addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder for the majority of her career, which commenced in 1976.

For 25 years she was employed by the Waterford Hospital working in the area of family violence, mental health and addictions. For 15 years she was employed by Stella’s Circle as an individual and group counselor at Emmanuel House, a residential treatment center for adults. Rhonda also worked a nine-month contract at a sexual assault unit at Scarborough Grace Hospital in Ontario in 2001. Rhonda is an avid horsewoman who owns and operates the Avalon Equestrian Centre in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland and many years ago recognized the strong link between horses and human healing.  As result of this, she developed the Equi-Assist Program which operates from Avalon Equestrian Centre.  This program has been actively operating for the last ten years offering mental health services to varied clients both individual and group. The past three years, services have mainly served military members and their families…both presently serving and veterans. Rhonda is an EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) Mental Health Specialist. Rhonda has been working with Gail Wideman, associate professor at Memorial University in the evaluation of the ongoing program and its effectiveness with military personnel.



This presentation will describe the implementation and evaluation of an equine facilitated treatment program located in St. John’s, NL.  Equine facilitated practice (EFP) is an experiential, solution-focused treatment that incorporates horses into the counseling process. As with other animal assisted therapies, EFP uses the human-animal bond in goal-directed activities and can be integrated into individual or group counselling.  EFP assists participants in ways that are, for some clients, more effective than traditional approaches and has been demonstrated to have particular efficacy in work with military personnel and their families on issues related to trauma.  Ms. Fiander will provide an in-depth overview of the treatment model developed by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and more specifically, of its application at Avalon Equestrian Centre in her Equi-Assist program. Dr. Wideman will discuss the theoretical foundations of EFP and initial findings of the evaluation.