Why Study for Qualifications….
“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.” Leonardo da Vinci
Supporting others and having a strong support system can have many positive benefits such as higher levels of well-being, better coping skills and a longer and healthier life.
The Athena Herd Foundation considers, it is fair to say, that those experiencing life around horses generally recognise the cathartic nature of the time spent with horses: to quote Sir Winston Churchill “There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man“. Numerous studies have been carried out around the benefits of horses on physical and mental health.
Equine Facilitated or Assisted Interactions (EFL/P EAL/P)
It is, therefore, easy to understand why people quickly recognise the therapeutic nature of Equine Facilitated (or Assisted) Interactions. For us at the Athena Herd Foundation Equine Facilitated (or Assisted) Interactions is a discipline of its own and much more than just running an interaction with an equine if we are to create a meaningful change for a client or service user, rather than just achieving a good feeling in the moment.
For us at the Athena Herd Foundation any effective Equine Facilitated or Assisted Interaction needs to have an objective, purpose and framework. The interactions need to not just help clients or service users develop an awareness, but also generate a shift in action or experienced difference for the individual.
Similarly appropriate skills and competencies need to be engaged if we are to support people with challenging personal conditions, whether physical and/or emotional. Not just to hold the space but frame the interaction with curative and therapeutic intention.
The Athena herd Foundation is of the view that these skills do not come naturally and need to be trained if we are to become effective facilitators and therapists.
The provision of structured qualifications provides a standardised framework for teaching, assessment and practice of Equine Facilitated or Assisted Interactions. Providing a recognised set of skills and resources required to deliver the work, as well as the important underlying knowledge to support it.
Qualifications can build on and develop existing practices, such as a coach, teacher, riding instructor or counsellor, psychotherapist, therapist which can include occupational therapists.
External accreditation of the qualification ensures that the qualifications have a foundation of rigor and discipline, as well as guaranteeing that learners achieve a recognised standard of practice and have been assessed objectively in practice.
Furthermore, qualifications in the services being offered are generally required by insurance companies (that often stipulate conditions that need to be met for the indemnity policy to apply) to obtain appropriate levels of insurance cover to enable one to do the work and to meet both legal and risk mitigation requirements.
The Athena Herd Foundation considers that, if we are to maintain public credibility for these Equine Facilitated (and Assisted) Interactions we need to create a foundation that ensures practitioners can deliver services that meet core standards.
Qualifying to deliver this work (including joining professional memberships, undertaking to adhere to ongoing professional standards which includes supervision, maintenance of policies, procedures, insurance policies etc) means that individual practitioners have an essential set of professional skills and are providing a level of service that aligns to that which they promote, and importantly understand the importance of recognising their own personal boundaries in terms of the service being offered ensuring that clients and/or Service Users have a clear understanding of what they are, and are not, engaging with.
Jennifer Geach and Graeme Green, the Athena® Herd Foundation© 2023