Change and Evolution
Change and evolution. Those are two words that describe what I see happening in the equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) field as well as the larger human-animal interaction (HAI) field. I had the opportunity to represent PATH Intl. and EAAT at the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organization's Triennial Conference in France this summer. Throughout the presentations and various discussions, I saw some of the same change and evolution that I see happening in the EAAT field--a greater push for data-driven decisions and the need for research and data gathering; a larger understanding of the role of the animal and the intention to respect what they bring to the interaction, their well-being and safety; a strong desire for agreement around best practices and terminology; and raising the professionalism across the field. The HAI field initially developed around service animals, mainly dogs. This is evolving into embracing other animals as service animals as well as welcoming the entire EAAT field and the partnering we do with equines. I have been asked to serve on a task force to incorporate EAAT best practices and terminology into those they have developed. I will utilize our existing standards and work with PATH Intl. subject matter experts as we explore this conversation.
The change and evolution I see in PATH Intl. includes raising the professionalism through ongoing work to accredit the registered instructor certification, changing how we produce the international and regional conferences in response to the data gathered from our membership and raising the visibility of our equine partners and how EAAT fits into the larger HAI field. All of this is happening with the ongoing focus on what's best for the field and what the membership wants. Trying to balance both what's best for the field and what the membership wants is part of what drives us to separate credentialing from the membership organization. It's part of why it's necessary to change our bylaws to reflect this separation and to add a credentialing council, to ensure those involved in credentialing are making decisions without the conflict of being directly involved in driving membership or providing education.
Hopefully you have seen the
Accrediting the PATH Intl. Registered Therapeutic Riding Certification eNews
regarding this upcoming bylaw change. If you missed it or others,
to see links to the previous communications. Our intention with these communications is that questions will be answered, feedback received and the membership will continue to see this path as the right one to a higher level of professionalism.
I recently met with the board to review last year's goals and accomplishments and to solicit feedback. The conversation was very positive with lots of helpful and informative comments. One comment that stood out for me was that even though I was hired to help lead this change, they hoped I wouldn't forget to let everyone breathe as we go through the changes. That is a great reminder. My hope is that through these communications you will have useful information to consider, a chance to ask questions, a chance to reflect on the progress these changes will bring and hopefully embrace the next level in the evolution of our association. One thing about this world is that change can always be adjusted if evidence indicates a better direction.
Thank you for asking questions and providing feedback.
All the best,