Overview – 18th September 2019

AA-EAP-EAL is consulting with its future members and stakeholders on the appropriate process and standards for member accreditation.

It has formed two subcommittees, one for EAPs and one for EALs, to consider the matter and each subcommittee has issued a survey to source input from the professional community.

These surveys have identified some areas on which there is broad agreement as well as other areas where there is diverse views.

Areas of Consensus

There are some matters around which there is broad consensus (65%+ of survey respondents). In both the EAP and EAL surveys, a significant majority agreed the following:

  1. Accreditation by other professional bodies should be part of the acceptance criteria for membership. For example, an EAP might be a registered Psychologist, an EAL might have completed a formal qualification as an Educator.
  2. Membership should also require some minimum level of training in EAP/EFP and EAL/EFL, and, experience and competence working with horses specifically.
  3. There should be more than one level of membership with a “Senior” or “Advanced” level of membership available to professionals who can demonstrate additional capabilities, years of experience or academic credentials.

EAP and EAL

For EAPs, it would be mandatory for all practitioners to be accredited by another professional body (eg as a Psychologist or Counsellor). Since registration with these organisations requires an academic qualification and a number of years of professional experience, there seems to be consensus that registration with an organisation such as PACFA, ACA, AASW, AHPRA would be sufficient for accreditation, once the additional EAP training and equine-specific criteria had been met.

For EALs, no professional body registration is mandatory (eg Life Coach, Organisational Consultant) for entry level AA-EAP-EAL membership, subsequent to EAL/EFL Training and equine specific criteria being met.

Equine-Specific Criteria

Virtually all respondents agreed that membership would require demonstration of specific horse-related competencies as well as the therapeutic / educational criteria discussed above.

Prompted for what these competencies should include, more than 60% of respondents believed that the following competencies should be mandatory:

  • Horse-handling
  • Horse care
  • Herd behaviour and horse psychology
  • Safety for clients around horses

Less than 30% of respondents considered riding skills to be important.

Given the overwhelming agreement from the profession, this should certainly be a key component of membership.

Retention of Membership

A large majority of respondents agreed that members should be required to undertake a certain number of hours of professional development annually in order to maintain their membership. The most frequent number of hours suggested for this PD fell in the 11-25 hours per year range.

Areas of Complexity and Divergence of Opinion

The area in which there is the greatest difference of opinion amongst professionals is around the number of hours of professional experience and / or training required to achieve EAP/EFP, EAL/EFL and equine-specific competence.

For example, regarding equine-specific competence, 10% of respondents believed that the requisite equine skills can be acquired in under 25 hours, whilst more than 11% believe that the necessary skills take more than 1000 hours to acquire. Although the most common response was in the range 101 – 250 hours, the responses were quite evenly spread across the full range.

It is likely that the diversity of opinion is being driven by multiple factors. Respondents identified that the quality and credibility of organisational accreditation was important but also that equity and accessibility was a consideration. In other words, we want membership to mean something but we don’t want to exclude people who can’t afford to fund a long professional development process or are located in remote areas where training is hard to access.

It is also true that respondents expecting very high numbers of hours of equine-specific experience tended to be those who saw less value in using external academic qualifications as an assessment tool.

We have addressed these issues of consensus and diverse views in our membership levels, and look forward to revealing these at our catered AA-EAP-EAL Launch event on the 21st September in Victoria.

We look forward to publicly announcing our Membership pathways next week, so stay tuned to discover how you can be a part of this exciting professional body.

Thank you again for all your feedback in the consultation processes, across the surveys and formation and functioning of specialist sub-committees, and direct feedback.

AA-EAP-EAL Management Committee


Initial AA-EAP-EAL Consultation and Survey Results (2019)

PRE-LAUNCH SURVEY RESULTS

The AA-EAP-EAL Survey ran in May of 2019. There were more than 150 respondents. The number of respondents provides a strong platform from which to set the structure, purpose, policies and priorities of the new organisation.

Many respondents identified that research into industry practice and concepts would be a valuable service to members and additionally registered an interest in participating in industry subcommittees and research forums. As such, we expect this to be the first of many research activities over the next year as we launch the new organisation and seek to maximise its diversity and usefulness to practitioners across the country.

Demographics

We believe that the age and location of our survey respondents is roughly representative of our industry although ongoing effort will be required to engage with young and recently-qualified practitioners.

Age

Location

 

Industry Demand

The responses from more than 150 survey participants suggest an overwhelming demand for an organisation of this nature. Only one respondent in Australia and two respondents in total saw little or no need for the organisation.
More than 80% of respondents saw a need for the organisation, with 55% believing this need is pressing.

Member Priorities

Respondents expressed interest in an organisation with a broad range of services and benefits to members, as shown below.

This suggests that the organisation’s mandate will need to be diverse from the outset but with particular priority given to development of professional standards and accreditation frameworks.
Nevertheless, and perhaps unexpectedly, the priority with the most votes was the development of a research program to support our professional practice.

Good Governance

There are varying levels of concern around conflicts of interest within the organisation, with 50% of total respondents reporting a neutral response but with a significant proportion in both the very concerned and not at all concerned categories. Levels of concern or otherwise are fairly evenly spread amongst different categories of respondents.

The organisation will need to address the concerns of respondents with clear policies, procedures and strategies. Responses regarding the main cause of concern fell broadly into the following categories.

Concerns about the selection of board members and ensuring that the management committee does not pursue an agenda driven by commercial gain should be addressed in the organisation’s constitution, policies regarding disclosures of interest and publication of all pertinent information on the website.
Concerns about bias within the model will need to be a major item for strategic discussion and public engagement. The organisation will succeed or fail based on its ability to represent a diverse range of practitioners, drawing from multiple therapeutic frameworks and models and utilising terminology, concepts and practice from a broad range of adjacent modalities.

Other Demand

There is also a strong demand for an organisation to develop a Code of Ethics for the industry. From the range of priorities identified by respondents, this code of ethics will need to be comprehensive.

Code of Ethics

Training Standards

There is also moderate demand for the development of a set of training standards. With over 70% of respondents in favour, it may be worth exploring whether explicitly addressing industry concerns about representing all the different models and therapeutic frameworks equitably and thoroughly increases the demand for this area of work.

Stakeholder Engagement

It was heartening to see a large number of respondents expressing interest in one or more of the intended stakeholder engagement forums, with a third of respondents expressing interest in sitting on the Board, half willing to be involved in subcommittees and two thirds in focus groups and other research forums.