How to become an ACPAT Physio

This information is related to all enquiries to ACPAT regarding our training and membership. There are links to the appropriate Professional organisations and websites.

Physiotherapy is defined by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) as:

A health care profession concerned with human function and movement and maximising potential:

  • It uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social well-being, taking account of variation in health status.
  • It is science-based, committed to extending, applying, evaluating and reviewing evidence that underpins and informs its practice and delivery.
  • The exercise of clinical judgement and informed interpretation is at its core.

Source: CSP Curriculum Framework Jan 2002 

To qualify as a Chartered Physiotherapist, involves a 3 or 4 year course, leading to a degree in human physiotherapy.

A newly graduated physiotherapist can apply for registration with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). HCPC registration is a requirement if the physiotherapist plans to undertake any work with humans in order to use the protected title of ‘physiotherapist’ or ‘physical therapist’. The physiotherapist can then join the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and is eligible to use the title of 'Chartered Physiotherapist’. They will have the letters MCSP (Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) after their name.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Health Care Professions Council

Chartered Physiotherapists who wish to specialise in animal physiotherapy must have current membership of the CSP and be registered with the HCPC and join ACPAT as a Category B (student) member.


As a Category B member they will be invited to join our insurance scheme. Additional to the CSP insurance extra Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) is required to treat animals. They will then have the opportunity to work shadow with Category A members to observe and gain clinical experience in the animal field.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)

14 Bedford Row

Enquiry Handling Unit:

Tel: 020 7306 6666
Fax: 020 7306 6611

Health Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Park House
184 Kennington Park Road
SE11 4BU

Tel: 0207582 0866
Fax: 020 7820 9684

The CSP is the professional, education and trade union body for physiotherapists. Members have the letters MCSP (Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) after their names.

The CSP describes its self as a progressive, dynamic, member-centred organisation that aims to:

  • Lead and support all members in developing and promoting high quality innovative patient care
  • Protect and further advance the interests and working lives of members
  • Raise the profile of the profession and influence the health care agenda
  • Work openly in partnership to meet the diverse needs of both members and their patients

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

HCPC is a regulatory body whose job is to protect the health and wellbeing of people who use the services of the health professions registered with them (currently 12 professions)

Individuals are only able to register if they meet HCPC standards regarding their professional skills, behaviour and health. Members will state they are registered by the Health Care Professions Council. Health Professions Council


ACPAT is a professional network of the CSP and as such is governed by them. Fully qualified members are classed as Category A members and student members as Category B. Category C members are non-practicing Chartered Physiotherapists. Journal members are other professionals (Veterinary Surgeons, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Physiotherapy students)

Honorary members have the same rights as Journal members.

ACPAT gives Category A and B members access to a Block Insurance Scheme in addition to CSP insurance for practicing members.ACPAT Membership


Physiotherapy treatment includes:

  • Manipulation and mobilisation to joints and soft tissues
  • Electrotherapies such as ultrasound, laser therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, electro magnetic therapy
  • Exercise regimes and rehabilitation

Common complaints treated by Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy include:

  • Spinal problems- such as disc disease, saddle related back pain
  • Joints problems- arthritis/degenerative joint disease, injury, pain/swelling/stiffness in joints
  • Injuries – to muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • Post surgical rehabilitation- following orthopaedic surgery for horses and dogs
  • Fractures- treatment and rehabilitation to facilitate healing and restoration of function
  • Neurological conditions
  • Sports injuries
  • Performance difficulties in the athletic animal
  • Preventative physiotherapy can help minimise recurrence of a problem
  • Physiotherapy for rider related problems
  • Obesity


The Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) regulate Physiotherapists.

The HCPC protects the Titles ‘physiotherapist’ and ‘physical therapist’ and they will prosecute if this Title is used by a non registrant.

However the HCPC do not recognise or give protection for the Title’ animal/veterinary physiotherapist’ or ‘animal/veterinary physical therapist’. Considerable work with the appropriate Professional Bodies is ongoing in order to gain protection of these Titles.

By choosing an ACPAT registered Chartered Physiotherapist working with animals, you are ensuring that your physiotherapist:

  • Is registered with a professional body (CSP) and adheres to Regulations and Standards of Practice
  • Maintains up to date knowledge through Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
  • Exercises clinical reasoning and judgement in the treatment of animals
  • Works with veterinary referral at all times in accordance with the Veterinary Surgeons Act.
  • Has Professional and Public Liability Insurance

Please note: As of the ACPAT AGM in March 2008, the previous stipulation for two years post graduation clinical experience prior to upgrading to a Category A physiotherapist has been removed. Entry Criteria for the post graduate upgrading courses for Veterinary Physiotherapy lie with the individual universities. Please contact them directly for their current entry requirements. Successful completion of one of the ACPAT upgrading routes provides automatic ACPAT Category A status.

Please see our page on Upgrading Routes for more

Please contact the relevant university for the current course fees.

How do I find a category A member who I can work shadow?

The vast majority of Chartered Physiotherapists working with animals work as self-employed private practitioners. Occasionally positions become available in private animal physiotherapy practices, large veterinary practices or universities.

However, most Chartered Animal Physiotherapists will need to establish their own practice which requires considerable commitment in terms of finance, time and the development of skills needed to successfully set up and run a business.

Once qualified, regular attendance at ACPAT and other relevant Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses is required to maintain and improve clinical knowledge and competence.

The current (January 2007) CPD requirement is 25 hours per year. Members must meet the CPD requirement to continue membership of ACPAT.

If you are also working with humans Animal CPD hours must be 12 hours minimum


If you are a HCPC and CSP registered physiotherapist, you can join ACPAT and undertake one of the upgrading routes to become a Chartered Physiotherapist working with animals

If you are still a member of the CSP, you can join ACPAT as an overseas member.

ACPAT Membership 

You may join ACPAT and apply for an upgrading route providing you successfully apply for CSP and HCPC membership. Some physiotherapists who trained overseas will be required to complete more hours in Britain before they can become HCPC registered. They cannot become ACPAT members until the HCPC registration is successful.You may join ACPAT and apply for an upgrading route providing you successfully apply for CSP and HCPC membership. Some physiotherapists who trained overseas will be required to complete more hours in Britain before they can become HCPC registered. They cannot become ACPAT members until the HCPC registration is successful.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Health Care Professions Council

ACPAT Membership 

Unfortunately, ACPAT is unable to to run the courses by correspondence.

Journal membership of ACPAT is open to many other related professionals (see membership area). At the present time, the ACPAT upgrading routes are only available to Chartered and HCPC registered physiotherapists.

We do not currently have a training route for veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and other professionals to become Chartered Physiotherapists working with animals. These professionals work closely together to provide the best possible care for animals.

Chartered Physiotherapists working with Animals must have completed a degree in physiotherapy before undertaking the upgrading requirements. The CSP has excellent links to all the universities and colleges that offer physiotherapy degrees.

You will need to contact the physiotherapy schools directly, or refer to UCAS to find out their individual entry requirements.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 

ACPAT Upgrading Routes 

Some category A members run courses for school students. Please see our courses page to find out if there are any courses running. Some category A members offer observation only days to school students if they hold the appropriate insurance. They will not be able to offer any ‘hands on’ experience. Please see the ‘Find a physio’ section to locate your nearest ACPAT member.

ACPAT runs an annual seminar which is open to non members and may be of interest.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 

ACPAT Upgrading Routes 

The decision will be yours. There are many specialities in physiotherapy and you will need to make a decision based on experience and correct information.

ACPAT Secretary 

ACPAT Education Officer 

If you are unable to obtain the necessary information that you need. Please contact us:

ACPAT Secretary: 

ACPAT Education Officer: