The right to practise companion animal behaviour therapy in the UK
FACT: No organisations, professional bodies or qualifications exist in the United Kingdom that govern, restrict, protect or bestow the legal right to practise pet behaviour therapy in the same way, for example, as to the practice of veterinary and human medicine.
Membership of any behaviour body or association is voluntary, whether by qualification or any form of application review. Some behaviour associations suggest or imply that in future pet behaviour therapy practice will be legally regulated and governed by law and tied to specific qualifications and membership of their associations in the same way as human doctors and veterinary surgeons. Vets are legally required to be members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This is achieved by gaining a UK veterinary degree or by passing additional examinations and assessments in some cases if qualified overseas.
It is worth noting that human psychiatrists must first be qualified as doctors and are therefore protected and already governed in their practice by the law that protects the public from the risks of unqualified medical advice. With human psychologists only recently governed and protected by law (see Health Care and Professionals Council) it is highly unlikely that any UK government would seek to pass any laws that would define, govern or protect animal behaviour therapists/counsellors. Hence the implications made by some behaviour associations and bodies are therefore presently misleading, and extremely improbable for the future.
Your professional competence and success as a companion animal behaviourist will be determined by the quality of your education, experience and application and your adherence to a Code of Practice, such as that of COAPE/CAPBT which is based on that of the British Psychological Society.