Frequently Asked Questions


Why was EFW-Can Created?

A multidisciplinary group of professionals and practitioners working, studying and researching in the field of equine facilitated wellness across Canada have come together with a desire to build a community of people who are like minded in their approach and philosophy to working with humans and equines.  We want to belong to an organization that holds a high standard of ethics, certification, education and training to bring credibility and professionalism to this important field of work.  EFW-Can is also committed to creating a strong network of people who want to work with their own equines in a respectful relationship, and to provide support, education and mentorship in this learning process.


What is EFW-Can's view on the role of the equine?

We all know, and research confirms, that spending time with equines can be hugely beneficial, healing and inspirational for humans.  But what about for the equine?  The role of equines in this work and how this work impacts them – both positively and negatively -- are of central importance.  Thus, a key underlying principle of EFW-Can is that the equine is respected and valued as a sentient being and partner.  This influences our ethics, certification standards, recommendations for training and more; it underpins everything that EFW-Can has developed and is working towards.  For more information please refer to the EFW-Can Code of Ethics.


Who can join EFW-Can?

You can! EFW-Can Membership is open to anyone who is interested in the field or who wants to develop his/her knowledge and skills related to working with equines as sentient beings and partners. You do not need to have any particular qualifications, nor do you need to be practicing in the field. Certification is different from membership and involves a number of pre-requisites and training requirements.


Is EFW-Can just for certified mental health professionals?

No...  EFW-Can is dedicated to supporting and working with professionals in the human services field, equine professionals, and individuals who want to enjoy equines on a deeper level by learning how to build respectful partnerships with them.


What are the benefits of EFW-Can membership and certification?

There are many reasons to join EFW-Can, whether or not you decide to pursue certification. As a member you will be joining a community of like-minded practitioners who can support and encourage each other, share ideas and discuss challenges. You will receive regular newsletters exploring current issues and topics in the field.  Additionally, you will have access to training and other services with professionals in the field who share common core philosophies, have met high standards of professionalism and expertise, and are committed to the well-being and health of the profession and all those within it.

As a Certified Equine Facilitated Wellness Professional you will have access to a nationally recognized certification that will allow you to demonstrate to your clients, funders and the public that you have met an independently developed level of skills, experience and knowledge in the field of Equine Facilitated Wellness.  This will greatly enhance your own credibility and safety in the field.  You will also have access to more tangible benefits such as reduced insurance rates.


How long does the certification process take?

This depends on the education, experience and training that you already have, and on the level and nature of certification you are seeking.  There is no set time frame within which you must complete the certification process.


Will my training and experience be recognized?

Yes.  There are certain EFW-Can approved trainings that you will need to attend to achieve certification, but you will be given credit for other courses and education related to this field that you already have. Certification candidates will be asked to submit a portfolio of their education and experience when they apply to enter the certification process.  For more information please refer to our overview of the certification process


How is EFW-Can different from other equine facilitated wellness organizations?

A key difference between EFW-Can and many other EFW organizations is that EFW-Can is independent and separate from the organizations that provide training or direct services in the field.  In accordance with International and Canadian best standards for certification, we believe that training and certification should be provided by separate entities.  Thus when you enter the certification program with EFW-Can, you are encouraged to pursue training in a variety of programs that are approved  by EFW-Can but provided by others.


How is EFW different from therapeutic riding?

Therapeutic riding is mainly focused on riding lessons for physically and developmentally handicapped children, youth and adults.  Therapeutic riding provides a holistic approach to rehabilitation, physical therapy and recreation. The instructors are working on improving the riders’ cognitive, physical and developmental abilities, as well as their social skills.  Although there is some cross over in the benefits of Therapeutic riding and Equine Facilitated Wellness the goals are different.  For example in therapeutic riding an instructor may be working with a child who has suffered brain damage from abuse or neglect.  Some of the goals in therapeutic riding would be to have the child participate in a therapeutic sport and recreational activity where s/he is motivated to work on their memory, attention span, communication, body awareness, coordination, self-esteem and confidence while they are learning riding skills and how to care for their equine.  In a session with a Certified Equine Facilitated Wellness Professional with experience in the field of education, the sessions may use experiential learning activities with equines to help the child process the psychological effects of the abuse and neglect.


Will I need to work with a partner? EFW-Can prioritizes the physical and emotional safety of all two and four-legged EFW participants. In many cases this requires the physical presence of two (or more) practitioners during a session.  Yet, we also recognize that this is not always possible or even preferable.  Thus we recognize there are certain situations in which an appropriately trained and dually certified practitioner will be able to work alone.   For more information please refer to our overview of the certification process and the Scope of Practice document.