What does HCAAP certification mean?

In Canada there are no national standards, certifications or regulatory bodies for Animal Assisted (AA) practices (including equine and canine specific). With our connections to local Universities and private colleges, Empowered By Horses will be at the forefront of those discussions when they happen. Until then, Canadian Animal Assisted teaching organizations will commit to their own standards and course requirements.

HCAAP does not issue a ‘’certificate of completion’’. What HCAAP certification means is that you are competent to incorporate animal partners into your practice by having met the core competencies outlined in our training program. We work with each student to bring them up to a high standard. If this standard is not met, we reserve the right to withhold certification. This approach sets an ethical foundation for the field, prioritizing human and animal safety over simply taking your money, offering a pre-packaged course or approaching this work through a business model lens. 

We want our students to succeed therefore we are available for additional coaching and mentoring sessions to support you toward graduation. Please see our fees in item 8 below.

Before we accept applicants into the program we ensure that you will have the greatest chance of success. We are not interested in just selling you a spot. We want students who already have a foundation in the helping, healing or learning professions and are able to engage in the training wholeheartedly. Our goal is to not only develop and grow the AA program but to help you achieve your professional goals and grow you as a person towards a more humane way of interacting in the world.

Do you assess animal suitability for this work?

While we do not assess individual animals for their suitability as partners in this work there is a module to help educate and guide you in choosing the right animal partner. We can also guide you to existing organizations that have established guidelines. For example, canine work is deeply rooted in the Canadian context towards  “therapy dogs”, “service dogs” and “emotional support dogs”. This language and these designations hold ethical challenges for the AA industry. 

True ethical practice requires that both the animal and human partners in the therapeutic or learning process not only have training but feel safe and capable to work in the chosen environment. 

Is HCAAP restricted to individuals looking to practice in the AA field? 

This program is designed for those in helping and healing professions with experience with animals. This design has allowed us to create an intensive six-month program with a focus on bringing the helping/healing profession together with animal partners in an ethical and safe framework.

We plan to create additional programs for people who want to improve relationships with animals in their public and private lives. This includes, for example, animal guardians, and those working in animal rescue, veterinary clinics and petting farms. We believe a heart-centered approach to human- animal relationships not only benefits who we are as humans but the animals in our care, the environment, and our emotional well-being. By studying the HCAAP way you are committing to a more humane lifestyle in how we interact with all living beings.

What is the broad focus of HCAAP?

The broader focus of our program is that of humane education. Throughout your time with us we hope to instill within you a desire to look towards the bigger picture of how animal protection, human rights and environment ethics are interconnected. 

How will I determine my scope of practice?

Your scope of practice will be determined by the guidelines of your governing body within your particular profession. Our goal is to help you ethically and competently marry your existing practice with an animal partner. If you do not have a governing body we will work together to develop a scope of practice based on your experience and training.

Does HCAAP include a trauma-sensitive lens?

Yes. We use this lens with both our human clients and our animal partners. There are modules on trauma and the central nervous system function to support this model.

What can I do with the HCAAP certification?

You have many options available upon graduation

Option 1 – Start your own business

Option 2 – Partner with others. If you are not a Mental Health professional with a degree and/or designation in counselling, social work etc you can partner with someone who is or take on the role of animal professional in a team offering learning or therapeutic services.

Option 3 – Include animals in your existing profession. You will have the foundation to partner with an animal in your work environment whether that be the classroom, office, or indoor learning environment. 

Option 4 – Join the HCAAP Community of Practice, grow relationships with other practitioners and stay open to the future opportunities that may emerge.

What if I want to specialize in a specific area of Animal Assisted Practice? Can I get extra mentoring or coaching?

Although our training is thorough and provides the building blocks to creating your own unique program we understand there may be areas that you feel less confident about. We provide individual mentoring and coaching packages to help ensure you thrive in your practice with animals. 

We offer a package of 5 sessions for the price of 4 = $600 plus tax (value of $750) or a package of 10 for the price of 7 = $1050 plus tax (value of $1500)