Professionals in many fields wonder whether or not to invest time and money in becoming certified. It's a great question, and the answer varies with the person's needs.
Those of us in the equine assisted learning field recognize that horses have tons of knowledge to share with us, and none of THEM are certified. Unfortunately, we humans are generally not as "in tune" with each other and our environment as they are. We aren't as attuned to the nuances of non-verbal behaviors as they are.
Becoming certified in a field of study or technique is a declaration of your commitment to excellence. Face it. It takes time, money and energy to learn techniques or an approach well enough to become certified. Good certification programs don't give out a certificate just for attending, just for showing up. Certification credentials should be given once the student or professional demonstrates their competence through some sort of testing procedure.
At E3A, we have two levels of certification. Level I is a knowledge-based certification. After about 64 hours of study and class work, the student must pass a series of tests over the materials, demonstrating their mastery of the materials. Level II is a competency-based certification, where students put on an actual equine assisted workshop and are observed during their preparation and delivery of that workshop and rated on 47 criteria.
Because certification takes a considerable commitment of time, effort and money, you need to decide for yourself whether it will be useful for you and your equine assisted learning business.
One of the main reasons people bother becoming certified is that they want to become proficient in certain techniques or an approach. We find people take our certification programs because they want the knowledge we present about doing equine assisted learning with corporations, educational programs or personal development. They are intrigued by the idea that "one size doesn't fit all," and they like the idea that we'll teach them the kinds of questions that work best for each context or target audience.
The second primary reason people seek a certification is that they want the credibility that such a credential gives them. We find this is especially important when working with corporate groups. Companies typically want a good return on investment, and although they may not initially understand how a workshop with horses will help their leadership or team building, they know to check the credentials of those who do training for their employees. They want to know that you have experience and training for working with their populations. And sorry, being a therapist isn't a particularly sought-after credential when working with this population. I found that out the hard way when I approached companies touting my psychologist credential. Yikes, they didn't really want a therapist any where near their employees.
Not everybody cares about working with someone who is certified. But as you are building your reputation as an equine assisted facilitator, having some sort of credential may help. Eventually, of course, people will hear about the wonderful things you do with horses and how powerful the learning is. In the meantime, however, having certification as an equine assisted practitioner can really help you build your business.
Want to learn more about the Equine Experiential Education's (E3A) certification programs? Go to www.E3Assoc.org or call us at (775) 376-2530. I hope to see you at a future certification training.
Linda Pucci, E3A Master Trainer, E3A Advanced Certified Practitioner with a Corporate Specialty