What is Certification?
The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) is the leading professional society in the United Kingdom for the study of animal behaviour. The Society recognizes that the general public and others seek professional advice about the behavioural problems of animals. Certification is the means by which ASAB demonstrates to the public and to other professions, such as veterinarians, that certain individuals meet the minimum standards of education, experience and ethics required of a professional clinical animal behaviourist.
Certification is administered by the ASAB Accreditation Committee, which includes representatives from the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the International Society for Applied Ethology as well as members appointed by ASAB Council.
Certification constitutes recognition by ASAB that, to the best of its knowledge, the clinician meets the educational, experiential and ethical standards required by the Society for professional clinical animal behaviourists.
By consulting with a certified professional clinical animal behaviourist (CCAB), the client can be assured that the behaviourist is suitably qualified, has experience of treating behaviour problems, and adheres to a Code of Conduct.
The Register of Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists is available here.
Currently anyone can call themselves an "animal behaviourist". As clinical behaviour and behaviour services expand, concern exists that there are people practising and calling themselves "behaviourists" who have no proper qualifications. In 1998 ASAB established a working party to investigate the need for a certification scheme for clinical animal behaviourists in the UK. This working party included representatives from the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, the UK Registry of Canine Behaviourists, the International Society for Applied Ethology, and the Companion Animal Behaviour Therapy Study Group, and extensive consultations were held with many other interested bodies, including the Kennel Club and several organizations concerned with dog training. The working party concluded that a registration scheme would be in the best interests of the public, practitioners and other related professions. Its final report is available here.
Who should be certificated?
Certification should be beneficial to anyone who consults with the public or with other professionals about specific behavioural disorders of individual animals. Examples are persons working in a clinical animal behaviour setting (i.e., involving the treatment of animal behaviour problems), and those consulting with zoos, research institutions or governmental agencies about the behavioural disorders of captive or domestic animals. Certification by ASAB is unlikely to be appropriate for persons working primarily with animals in groups, for example those consulting on the welfare, housing or husbandry of agricultural or laboratory animals.
What will be the requirements for certification?
To become a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB), successful applicants will have to meet requirements of education, experience and endorsement. Education to Honours Degree standard or higher in a biological or behavioural science will be required, including appropriate elements of zoology, physiology, psychology, clinical techniques and research methods. Further details are available here.
To assist those wishing to identify courses that fulfil the academic requirements of ASAB certification, the Accreditation Committee has adopted a system for validating courses. Details can be found here.Experiential requirements will be based on evidence of significant experience of working under the supervision of several CCABs in a clinical setting. Further details are available here. Endorsement requirements will include reports from the supervising CCABs and other professionals, such as referring veterinary surgeons.
Until Certification has become established in the UK, ASAB acknowledges that there is a need to show flexibility in applying these requirements.
Renewal of Certification will be annual, and will require a summary of ongoing experience of clinical work and completion of continuing professional education.
What if my course was not validated by ASAB?
Some applicants may have obtained the academic requirements through completion of courses that are not validated by ASAB, or may prefer to take modules from more than one institution in order to meet the criteria.
ASAB offer such candidates a pre-certification review of their academic achievements to determine which areas of academic competency listed in the ASAB certification standards they have already gained and which areas, if any, they need further training in. Applicants can apply for a pre-certification review prior to commencing their supervised practical experience , or at any point thereafter. The cost of a pre-certification review is £100. An application form for a pre-certification review can be found here.
The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellor’s website features a list of courses that may be of interest to those seeking information on the range and nature of courses available in the UK (www.apbc.org.uk), although applicants should be aware that ASAB only endorses those courses that it has formally validated.
Who can apply for certification now?
Currently-active practitioners with extensive clinical experience are invited to apply for certification. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they possess skills, knowledge and abilities that are at least equivalent to the formal academic and experiential requirements referred to above. Given the diversity and fragmentary nature of much of the training that has been available in the past, it is not practical to indicate precisely how such equivalence can be demonstrated, and each application will be considered by the Committee on its own merits. However, as an approximate guide, applicants will be expected: to have an Honours or higher degree in a relevant subject; to have taken appropriate specialist courses, and attended relevant academic and professional conferences; to have at least three years of regular clinical experience; to be supported by references from three professionals, including at least one veterinary surgeon. The application form for full certification can be found here.
The interpretation of "regular clinical experience" will depend upon the types of animals involved; applicants who wish to specialize in uncommon species may need to provide different evidence of competence to those who work primarily on, for example, dogs. Note that under the Code of Conduct it will be the responsibility of CCABs to ensure that they do not claim expertise that they do not have, especially in regard to the species for which they have clinical experience.
One aim of Certification is to enhance the standing of the clinical animal behaviourist by comparison with other professions, and its value will therefore depend on both the quality and number of those who are Certificated. As their contribution to the building of the profession, those who receive Certification by this initial route will be encouraged to act as clinical supervisors for intending applicants who need to acquire clinical experience. ASAB will provide training and guidance for clinical supervisors.
Recognition of existing competencies in veterinarians
Veterinarians, or other suitably qualified individuals, who (i) have been recognized either by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a specialist in the field of veterinary behaviour medicine or have been accepted into the European College of Veterinary Behaviour Medicine, and (ii) are residents of the UK, can apply for recognition under the ASAB certification scheme.
For such individuals, an award of certification will depend upon submission of a CV, the provision of contact details of three individuals in professional positions who can provide a suitable reference on the applicant's professional abilities and proof that the applicant's abilities in behavioural medicine have been recognized either by the RCVS or through membership of the European College of Veterinary Behaviour Medicine. In addition, the application must submit a signed undertaking to comply with the Charter, Statutes, Rules and Regulations of ASAB from time to time in force and to comply with the Code of Conduct for Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourists. Applicants will not, in the first instance, be asked to submit case histories. All applications must be approved by the Accreditation Committee. An initial application fee of £100 will apply.
Can I apply if I do not work in the UK?
The ASAB Certification scheme is only intended for clinical animal behaviourists who work mainly or exclusively in the United Kingdom. The Animal Behavior Society runs a similar scheme primarily for the USA and Canada (http://www.animalbehavior.org/Applied/). ASAB is in discussion to determine whether a similar schemes can be developed in the future for other parts of Europe.
Certification does not constitute a guarantee that the applicant meets a specific standard of competence or possesses specific knowledge.
The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour shall not be liable to Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists for any claims, losses, damages or other expenses (either direct, special or consequential) arising as a result of any dispute between a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist and its client or a third party in relation to any professional advice or treatment given. Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourists shall hold professional indemnity insurance at an adequate level and sufficient to meet any liabilities which might arise as a result of their professional practice. Certification and renewal of certification shall be dependent upon the production of proof of such insurance, and shall be deemed to have been withdrawn if such insurance lapses.
How much does it cost to become certificated?
The fee for the initial application for Certification is £100 (non-refundable); if granted, this includes the first year's Practising Certificate. Applicants who have already been pre-certified will only be charged £50 upon applying for full-certification. Thereafter, annual renewal is £50.
If an initial application for certification is denied by the Accreditation Committee, an applicant may re-apply. (The re-applications require a fee of £50). Re-applications may be based on completing deficiencies specified by the Committee or on exceptions deemed appropriate by the applicant.
The application fee for pre-certification is £100 (non-refundable). Applicants who have been pre-certified will be required to pay a reduced fee of £50 upon applying for full certification.
Do I need to be a member of ASAB to become certificated?
No, and membership of ASAB is a separate process. The Certification fees do not include ASAB membership fees. CCABs are not entitled to use the ASAB "grebes" logo, but may use the initials "CCAB" to indicate that they are Certificated.