As a Pro-EFW (Professional Association for Equine Facilitated Wellness) mentor and trainer, I regularly support certification candidates as they collect and document their hours of experience and training with both horses (and/ or other animals) and people to meet the various Pro-EFW and other certification body requirements.

While the Healing Hooves training programs include consideration of various certification processes within both the AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) and EFW (Equine Facilitated Wellness) fields, this article will specifically focus upon the requirements of Pro-EFW in the EFW field.  If you have questions about any other certification program please let me know in the comments section below and I will do my best to help you locate the information and support you are looking for!

One area of confusion which seems to be shared by many Pro-EFW candidates is where to include which hours, and how to accumulate the required hours in each certification requirement area. My aim here is to shed some light on this area and hopefully reduce some of the confusion. I will define some of the key areas where you need to show experience and then, through a series of examples, show which hours can be included where. While my focus here is the requirements of the Canadian Certification body, Pro-EFW, I hope this discussion will also be helpful in providing ideas for meeting practicum, experience and personal growth requirements for other equine and/ or animal assisted therapy certification bodies.

If you are unsure about any of the terminology, acronyms or terms we use in this article please refer to our previous article in this series: What are Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy?

We also encourage you to become familiar with the requirements set out on the Pro-EFW website for the most up to date information, and remember that your Pro-EFW trainer and mentor will provide you with lots of support in terms of understanding all of these requirements and applying them to your specific situation and goals. You are not alone in this journey!

Areas where you need to collect hours/ show experience for Pro-EFW certification:

 

1. Pre requisite Equine Hours

All candidates need to show some experience with equines, separate from any training and experience in Equine Facilitated Wellness. The amount and nature of these hours depends on what level of certification you are seeking on the Equine side.

If you are seeking certification as an Equine Professional (EP) you need to show 2,500 hours of experience with equines. 1,000 of these hours need to be with you in a leadership position (i.e. you teaching horsemanship rather than being taught it), and 500 of that 1000 need to be with you in a leadership position with novices.

If you are not seeking certification as an EP you still need a minimum of 60 hours of experience working with and learning about horses. This is what Pro-EFW refer to as your ‘cross training’ hours. This is also where the level of expertise table comes in. 60 hours of equine experience puts you at a level one, while 2,500 hours puts you at a level five which is equivalent to certification as an EP. Levels 2, 3 and 4 lie somewhere in between and while specific numbers of hours are not defined for levels 2 and 3 descriptions are provided (on the levels of expertise table) and your Pro-EFW trainer or mentor will help you determine where you lie on this table. The levels of expertise tables also define what you can do with equines as a non EP and what level of equine supervision is required.

 

2. Pre requisite Human Service Hours

This follows a similar approach to the EP hours discussed above.

To certify as a MH (mental health) professional you need to be a member of a certifying MH body, have a masters degree in a relevant field or have membership in a provincial college, plus have 2500 hours of experience in your field. To certify as an LP (Learning Professional), you need to show 2,500 hours of experience working in a leadership capacity with people.  This can be met through a credential and related work experience (e.g. if you are a teacher or certified life coach) or it can be met on a portfolio basis similar to the approach discussed above for EP.

If you are certifying as an EP only (i.e. not MH or LP) then you will need a minimum of 60 ‘cross training’ hours in a human services field and will refer to the level of expertise tables to define your level of experience and expertise and thus need for supervision in this area.

 

3. Personal Growth Hours

All certification candidates are required to show 30 hours of personal growth of which 15 need to be in an equine environment. These are hours where you are the client. Thus your personal growth is the key and direct goal for these hours. Personal counselling and personal growth workshops would be good examples.

Other training courses, riding or horsemanship lessons do not meet these requirements. There is no denying that we experience personal growth within a number of contexts and environments and this certainly extends to training workshops including those with horses. However there is something different about attending a workshop or session where the defined purpose and focus is upon your own personal growth, rather than the personal growth being a by product of another training or educational experience. While this can be a vulnerable and scary experience it is precisely what we ask our clients to trust us to create and provide for them. Thus we need to be ready to experience it ourselves. 

Pro-EFW allow you to choose who you complete your personal growth hours with. This does not need to be with an Pro-EFW trained or approved program, provided it is a program within which the horse is respected and worked with as a sentient being and partner as per Pro-EFW core principal in this area. That being said I do recommend that you check the credentials of the person offering the program you are considering attending and be sure you feel comfortable doing personal growth work with them.

 

4. Core Training

All candidates take the core Pro-EFW training courses: Exploration, Foundation, Focus and Integration training. It is recommended to take these trainings over a minimum period of 18 months and a longer training schedule is often followed. During 2020 many of these trainings moved to a full or partial online delivery platform to allow for safe delivery.

 

5. Practicum Hours

All candidates are required to collect 85 practicum hours.  This is where you are facilitating EFW work with clients.  It can be paid or unpaid. It can be at someone else’s program or within your own developing program. For your practicum hours to be valid you need to first have a supervision arrangement in place with an Pro-EFW mentor (see below). Your supervisor/ mentor does not have to be physically present during your practicum hours.

Up to 20 of your 85 practicum hours can be collected by supporting a trainer at a training you have already attended and up to 15 can by doing practice sessions with another Pro-EFW candidate, provided a minimum of 50 hours are with actual clients.

 

6. Supervision/ Mentoring Hours

All candidates are required to complete 10 hours of supervision with a Pro-EFW mentor. These are in addition to (not a part of) the 85 practicum hours discussed above. A minimum of four of these hours need to be with your trainer. These can be in person, by Skype/ Zoom or by phone. One of these hours needs to be completed before focus training and two before integration training. The purpose of these hours is to supervise and support you through your practicum (through case consults and the required four session evaluations), to guide your development of your scope of practice, and to provide you with support and guidance during your training process.

More information on all of the above is available, with updates posted on any changes as they are approved, on the Pro-EFW website

 

 

 Examples of Which Hours Could be Counted Where:

 

Riding lessons, horsemanship lessons or attendance at horsemanship clinics

These would be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, or cross training hours if you are not seeking EP certification. Auditing clinics can be a great and low cost way of gaining some extra hours in this area.

People sometimes ask if these count as personal growth hours as we often learn about ourselves as we learn abut horses.  However the main focus of these activities and lessons is learning about horses and horsemanship; it is not personal growth and you are not in the position of a client, thus these hours fall within your equine hours.

 

Personal growth workshops in an Equine Environment (e.g. Epona’s ‘Way of the Horse’)

These count as a part of your 30 personal growth hours. They also count within the 15 of these 30 hours which are required to be in an equine environment

 

Personal counselling sessions

These count as a part of your 30 personal growth hours. 15 of these hours need to be in an environment which includes horses but 15 can be in a non equine environment.

 

Practicing sessions with another Pro-EFW candidate

Up to 15 of these hours can be included as a part of your practicum.  The advantage of this approach is that the person facilitating counts these hours as practicum while the person ‘receiving’ can count them as personal growth, ideally at no cost to either of you. While this is a wonderful, and usually low cost, way to accumulate some of your personal growth hours I usually recommend that you do not seek all of your hours this way. There are many advantages to gaining at least some of your personal growth hours with an experienced EFW practitioner.

 

Reviewing session plans or case consults with your Pro-EFW mentor

These count as part of your 10 hours of supervision/ mentoring time. This can be done in person, by phone, over Skype, Facetime, Zoom or by e-mail.

 

Volunteering with or working for an EFW program

Provided you are working with both clients and horses, and are discussing this work with your Pro-EFW mentor, these hours count towards your 85 hour practicum requirement. Your hours here should match the certification stream you plan to certify within.  E.g. if you are working towards certification as a MHP in EFW you need to ensure a significant number of your practicum hours are within a program which also has a MH scope and focus.

 

Working with clients within your own developing EFW program

Provided you are working with both clients and horses, and are discussing this work with your Pro-EFW mentor, these hours count towards your 85 hour practicum requirement.

 

Volunteering with a mental health related organisation (e.g. crisis line) and related training

If you are a credentialed MH professional, a member of a credentialing professional body and this work falls within your scope of practice as defined by that body then these hours will count towards the 2,500 work experience pre requisite hours required for the MH professional.

If you are not seeking certification as a MH professional these could count towards your 60 hours cross training requirement.

 

Volunteering at a horse rescue program

These would be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, or cross training hours if you are not seeking EP certification.

 

Volunteering at a therapeutic riding (TR) program

These could be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, or cross training hours if you are not seeking EP certification. If you are also interacting with and supporting the TR clients then some of the hours may be counted within your LP pre requisite hours. Depending on the scope of the TR program there may also be the possibility of these hours counting as a part of your 85 practicum hours. Your mentor will be able to guide you on where best to count these hours.

 

Caring for your own or other people’s horses

These would be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, or cross training hours if you are not seeking EP certification.

 

Teaching Horsemanship to Family Members, Foster Children etc.

In most cases these hours will count towards your overall 2,500 EP pre requisite hours (for the EP) or the cross training hours form the MHP/LP.  Whether or not they will count within the 1,000 leadership hours for the EP will be considered on a case by case basis in terms of the nature of the hours and what other horsemanship hours you possess. If you can show that you are following some sort of recognised and respected curriculum during these times (e.g. sharing content from an online course or following pony club or 4H curriculum), or collaborating with/ following the guidance of a credentialed EP this will certainly help. As always, showing that you are prioritising safety and working with the horse as a sentient being is important at all times.

 

Teaching 4H or pony club lessons

These would be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, and would be included with the 1,000 hours which require you to be in a leadership role with equines.

 

Experience or Training with Non Equines (e.g. dogs, cats, farm animals)

Pro-EFW define ‘equines’ as horses, donkeys and mules. 

Experience with non equines cannot be counted towards the Pro-EFW equine pre requisite requirements, and practice/ practicum hours completed with non equines cannot be included within the Pro-EFW 85 practice hours/ practicum requirement. In addition, if you are completing online training with a Pro-EFW trainer and thus completing some experiential exercises at home, this also needs to be completed with equines.  Experience, training and practice hours with non equines are very likely to be helpful (and most likely required) for any certification you decide to pursue in AAT and, depending on the nature of the training and experience, may be recognised as part of your LP pre requisite hours by Pro-EFW, in addition to meeting your AAT certification requirements. 

Personal growth hours completed within an AAT (non equine) environment would count towards the 15 non equine personal growth hours.

If this situation is relevant to you, I recommend you discuss your specific experience, situation and questions with your mentor and trainer.

 

Work experience in a mental health setting

If you are a credentialed MH professional, a member of a credentialing professional body and this work falls within your scope of practice as defined by that body then these hours will count towards the 2,500 work experience pre requisite hours required for the MH professional.

 

Work experience in an education or other human services related setting

These hours will count towards the 2,500 work experience pre requisite hours required for the Learning professional (LP).

 

Working in an equine environment (groom, horse handler etc.)

These would be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, or cross training hours if you are not seeking EP certification.

 

Equine Canada, CHA, Centred riding or other equine training and certifications

The time spent achieving these would be counted within your pre requisite equine hours, and any portion which included you in a teaching or leadership role would be included within the 1,000 hours which require you to be in a leadership role with equines.

 

Attending non Pro-EFW trainings in AAT or EFW

Depending on the nature of the training you are likely to be able to count some of these hours as equine or LP pre-requisite hours. They cannot take the place of the core Pro-EFW trainings.

When Pro-EFW was first established over a decade ago, there was a grand parenting time period of several years, consistent with that provided by most regulatory bodies. During this time period pre-existing training and experience accumulated prior to the existence of Pro-EFW, with other regulatory bodies, was recognised and experienced candidates could apply to be ‘grandparented in’ for Pro-EFW certification on this basis. This time period is no longer open, as is consistent with procedures followed by other regulatory and certification bodies, as Pro-EFW training options have now been available for many years.

 

Prior Experience in Practicing EFW 

Hours accumulated in an EFW or related environment prior to joining Pro-EFW and starting certification can likely be included within your pre requisite hours in the MH, LP or EP streams depending on the focus and scope of the hours. They are unlikely to be able to be counted as practicum hours as no supervision arrangement would have been in place to meet Pro-EFW requirements.

As noted above, when Pro-EFW was first established over a decade ago there was a grand parenting time period of several years, consistent with that provided by most regulatory bodies. During this time period pre-existing training and experience accumulated prior to the existence of Pro-EFW, with other regulatory bodies, was recognised and experienced candidates could apply to be ‘grandparented in’ for Pro-EFW certification on this basis. This time period is no longer open, as is consistent with procedures followed by other regulatory and certification bodies, as Pro-EFW training options have now been available for many years.

 

Other Considerations:

  • You don’t need to meet all the above requirements before you start completing the Pro-EFW core training; you can be building your equine hours, human service training and experience and collecting personal growth hours concurrently with completing the core Pro-EFW training.
  • You can include and are given credit within your pre requisite and personal growth requirements for hours and experience you have accumulated up to now. Pro-EFW do not currently place a time limit on how far back you can go to start counting your pre requisite or personal growth hours. That being said, I recommend that the personal growth hours be from within the past five years.
  • Pro-EFW will allow you to ‘double count’ hours provided the intent of each requirement is met. Thus, some hours of experience may allow you to accumulate hours and meet requirement within more than one category at the same time.
  • I recommend that you think about trainings and work experience you gained in other environments that may be relevant to EFW. This may be especially relevant for LP certification.
  • Candidates sometimes ask about attending personal growth sessions with their trainer. That could be an option if you are comfortable with your trainers approach and that it would provide you with emotional safety. You would need to discuss the dual roles this may present. However, if you are doing all of your training with one program I usually recommend that candidates attend their personal growth sessions with a different program. This has the advantage of allowing you to experience a slightly different approach to the work plus avoids potential dual roles which may arise if you are doing both personal growth and professional training with the same trainer and program.
  • Everyone’s situation is different; I recommend discussing any areas you are unsure about with your mentor and/ or with your regulatory body

I hope this has helped to clarify the number and nature of hours of experience you require to meet Pro-EFW certification requirements and where the various hours you have accumulated/ are accumulating are likely to be recognised.

If you still have questions, or if this article has raised new questions for you, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. You can also contact Pro-EFW directly for clarification.

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