Hippotherapy: What Professionals and Consumers Ought to Know
The American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) [i] provides education for therapists interested in developing skills using hippotherapy in their treatment. This coursework provides a foundation for board certification through the American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB). At present, there are two levels of board certification. Entry level AHCB certification is available for therapists as well as Certified Occupational and Physical Therapy Assistants and once they have passed the test, therapists are able to use “AHCB Certified Therapist” after their name. The second, and highest level of credentialing, requires years of experience using hippotherapy as a treatment strategy and completion of AHA coursework, while not required, is highly recommended in order to pass the test. After the advanced test, therapists are allowed to use the initials HPCS (Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist) after their name. In Maine there are two HPCS (one PT and one OT). Both are employed at Carlisle Academy Integrative Equine Therapy & Sports and they represent approximately 80 therapists world-wide. Consumers are able to view the names and contact information of credentialed therapists by going to the American Hippotherapy Association; click on “Find a Therapist” to determine credentialed therapists in their area.
In addition to therapist credentialing, therapeutic riding programs have the option to accredit their facility and hippotherapy program through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, Intl. (PATH, Intl.) Therapeutic riding center and specialty program accreditation is currently voluntary and this accreditation, like the accreditation process used in hospitals, schools and colleges, is designed for consumer protection and address issues such as risk management, equine care, facilities and staff credentialing. PATH, Intl Premier Accredited Centers represent the vast minority of therapeutic riding centers around the country and there are three Premier Accredited Centers in Maine.[ii] The majority of therapeutic riding centers in the US are “member” centers merely requiring the center to pay a membership fee.
Lastly, inside and outside of our industry, there is some confusion when describing programs. The terms “therapeutic riding” or “equine therapy” and “hippotherapy” are sometimes used interchangeably. Adaptive or therapeutic riding is an adaptive and recreational service provided by certified therapeutic riding/driving instructors. This service is NOT medically necessary and is not provided by certified and licensed health care professionals. Hippotherapy and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy may be medically necessary and are administered by certified and licensed health care professionals operating under the medical model and prescribed by a physician. There is no such thing as “equine or horse therapy” or a “hippotherapist”. A study recently published in Hippotherapy documented the rate of patient incident to therapist credentialing (decreased level of incidents to increased level of credentialing). Given the potentially dangerous nature of combining human treatment with flight animals, proper training, credentialing and accreditation serves to prevent consumer injury due to inexperience, lack of training or negligence.
For questions or for more information feel free to contact: Susan E. Grant, OTR/L, HPCS Director of Therapy and Adaptive Programs at Carlisle Academy. firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-985-0374Previous Entry | Next Entry »