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Interview with Elise Rothman d'Hauthille regarding her EAI Repository

Elise Rothman d’Hauthuille is a consultant for nonprofit organizations. Before this, she used to work to make companies as profitable as possible “by creating dynamic sales teams coupled with analytic strategies and viable budgeting projections.” Taking a break from for profit work, Rothman sailed to South America, returning a few years later to Miami, Florida where her daughter was involved with a non-profit youth and arts organization called Voices United. The organization needed funding and Rothman wrote and secured one of their first grants. Realizing she had a knack for this, she left for profit work and became a grant writer/non-profit consultant.

After moving to California, Rothman found she could combine her skills for grant writing with her passion for horses after meeting someone who worked with the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy (NCEFT). Sitting down to write the first proposal for equine therapy, she saw she didn’t have the evidence, “the meat”, to convince a funder that these programs were worth the investment. This was the inspiration for the Equine Assisted Interventions (EAI) Repository, a place for evidence, research, and other resources for parties interested in equine assisted therapy and activities.

The EAI Repository (here) is her brainchild, and the current iteration is only phase one. Over the past couple years she has been collecting data, papers, and resources now totaling 531 pieces, and the database is still growing. Each of the papers deal strictly with equine assisted assisted/mediated activities and therapy for mental health. “I excluded studies and papers over hippotherapy and therapeutic riding that focused primarily on physical rehabilitation”, says Rothman, “I had to draw the line somewhere.”

The project is a massive undertaking. Rothman wants to foster collaboration on EAI projects and research by providing a shared global resource and community both for scholarly researchers and generally interested parties. Currently in Wales, Rothman is tri-lingual, speaking English, Spanish, and French. While much of the database currently has US papers, around 60%, she is working to acquire papers from other countries to encourage global collaboration.

The design, which she coded and implemented herself, is inspired by other scholarly research sites such as academia.edu. There are portals for research papers, programs and facilities, assessments and outcomes, partners and funding, a post-it board, and a contribution tab. An interesting feature of the site is a scrolling banner that shows people who have entered the site. Rothman designed the banner as a way to recognize individuals for visiting the site and showing who is taking an interest.

The EAI Repository is also useful for those hoping to write and earn grants of their own. Because the database is searchable in a variety of ways, papers can be sorted by author, region, topic, etc., to show who is undertaking a project similar to their own (an important part of writing a grant proposal).

Philanthropic backers also need metrics by which success of the project can be measured. Rothman has compiled a resource of commonly used and reliable assessments and outcomes, such as the Beck Depression Inventory, that researchers can use to measure items like well-being, depression, anxiety, and other factors to help funders see that their contribution was meaningful. This part of the site required two months of work to compile.

One of the benefits Rothman hopes to achieve by increasing global collaboration is also reducing duplication to keep others from reinventing the wheel, which she says “everyone in the industry is doing”. She mentioned three separate research projects in three different countries working on the same issue, one in the US with the Department of Juvenile Justice, one in the UK providing equine assisted psychotherapy, and the other in Spain conducted by Lorenzo Lucarelli and the Spanish Association of Equine Mediated Therapies (AEDEQ here). Each of these studies focuses on juvenile programs and equine mediated therapy and activities. Rothman speculates that having known about each other’s work, the researchers could have collaborated, creating a more comprehensive project.

Another instance for collaboration came from last year’s 2011 Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH link here) conference. A speaker was presenting her work regarding phenomenological analysis and equine therapy. Rothman had heard of the subject because of papers she had collected by Dulce. M. Garcia on the same topic. The presenter wasn’t familiar with the work that had been done by another researcher in her field. Rothman hopes that by providing this shared resource duplication can be avoided and more progress made in the EAI field. The next move, she says, is to find a collaborative formula to make the work easier and better for everyone involved in EAI research.

Rothman has been able to undertake this entire project so far on her own. She is currently looking for a patron organization to assist in bringing the repository to a higher level. It would be a useful growth spurt for the repository, solidifying the already large foundation she has laid down. This week, she will be soliciting support from those organisations whose constituents will most benefit from the site; PATH, HETI, EAHAE, IAHAIO, AEDEQ , A.N.I.R.E, Association Nacional de Equoterapia Handi in Brazil, the Chinese Taipei Equestrian Association, EAGALA, HABRI and HHRF. Support from these organizations could be critical to the success of the database.

Elise Rothman can be reached by email at [[[[This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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