Frequently asked questions

Do I need formal training in Aquatic Therapy to treat patients in the pool?

The ATACP highlights that each individual has a responsibility to work within their scope of practice.  Therefore if a physiotherapist were required to work in a pool and has not yet undertaken learning and development in aquatic therapy in line with ATACP Guidance on Good Practice in Aquatic Therapy, the ATACP recommends that he or she should be directly supervised by a Physiotherapist whose learning and development does fulfil these requirements.

Both the CSP and ATACP recommend the Accredited Foundation programme as a robust route for developing capability and competency in aquatic therapy practice, particularly given the lack of undergraduate training in this area in the UK.

Refer to ATACP Guidance on Good Practice 

See ATACP Course listings

How can I arrange an ATACP Aquatic Therapy Course?

Please contact our Membership Secretary Leila Brown who will forward your enquiry to our ATACP Accredited Tutors.

What is the ATACP Foundation Programme?

The ATACP Accredited Foundation Programme is comprised of pre course reading, a 2 day taught element, including both theory and practical and an assessment component including a written paper, practical exam and a case study.  Having attended the 2 day taught element you would receive a certificate of attendance and not a qualification.  To gain ATACP Accreditation status you need to undergo a formal assessment process which is separate to the taught element and currently only open to HCPC Registered Physiotherapists.  

Are ATACP Foundation Courses only suitable for Chartered Physiotherapists?

The ATACP Accredited Foundation programme is aimed primarily but not exclusively at Chartered Physiotherapists who work and treat patients in an aquatic therapy setting.  Many people working in aquatic therapy such as Assistants, Occupational Therapists, Osteopaths and Sports Therapists have attended our courses and have found them very useful but at present only HCPC Registered Physiotherapists can undergo the formal assessment and accreditation process. 

What does the Foundation Accreditation assessment involve?

The Foundation accreditation assessment provides a formal examination of an individuals learning, competency and skill base within aquatic therapy and comprises a written paper, a practical assessment and the submission of a portfolio and case study.  The Accreditation assessment is separate to the taught component and incurs an additional cost.  See here for details.

Can I apply directly to do the Accreditation assessment?

The Foundation accreditation assessment is currently only open to HCPC registered Physiotherapists.  Candidates are required to attend a 2 day ATACP Foundation Course Study Block delivered by a recognised ATACP Tutor or be able to demonstrate the equivalent level of knowledge & skills required, in line with the Foundation course content prior to application (refer to ATACP Guidance on Good Practice in Aquatic Therapy for the Foundation course outline).  Please email to apply or for further details.

Do I need to attend a Foundation course before an Intermediate course?

It is recommended that you attend the Foundation course prior to any intermediate courses to ensure that you have a sufficient knowledge base of the underlying principles and practical skills in aquatic therapy.  However if you have had extensive experience in aquatic therapy practice and can demonstrate a level of knowledge that is equivalent to that of Foundation level, it may not be necessary to attend the Foundation course first (refer to ATACP Guidance on Good Practice in Aquatic Therapy for the course outline).

How can I get hold of ATACP Guidance on Good Practice in Aquatic Therapy?

ATACP members can download Guidance on Good Practice for £5 ATACP member rate (ATACP members must be logged in to do this).  Non members can purchase a PDF version of this document for £20

What are the benefits of joining the ATACP?

Membership benefits include discounted members rate at ATACP Study days, biannual Aqualines journal, access to members only content on our website including previous issues of Aqualines, purchase the PDF Guidance on Good Practice in Aquatic Therapy for £5, early notification of developments in aquatic therapy, future events & study days and support from the aquatic therapy network. See here for details of how to join.

How can I access previous editions of Aqualines?

ATACP members can download previous editions of Aqualines journal (1999 onwards), for free via our website.  Non members can purchase previous editions of Aqualines in PDF format for £5 each (see here for details).  Aqualines is also available at the CSP Library & British Library.

How long can Physiotherapists / Assistants spend in the water each day?

The ATACP have made the following recommendation which can be found in Guidance on Good Practice (2015) under Standards for the Management of the Aquatic Therapy Pool: Physiotherapists should not work in the pool for more than 3 hours within any normal working day. 

I have recently discovered that I am pregnant, is it still ok to work in the pool?

If you are used to working in the pool and are otherwise well (i.e. not suffering from excessive nausea or fatigue and the pregnancy is uncomplicated) then there is no particular reason to stop (unless the pool temperature exceeds 35 degrees, please see notes below).  This should of course be subject to an individual risk assessment considering all aspects of the pregnancy / task in hand and should be reviewed on a regular basis as the pregnancy progresses. 

Guidance on Good Practice lists pregnancy as a precaution if the water temperature exceeds 35C.  Evidence from a literature review previously published in Aqualines for the maximum temperature of an aquatic therapy pool for pregnant women is inconclusive.  Further research is needed to clarify the maximum pool temperature for pregnancy. However there are methodological difficulties for this type of research and finding maximal temperatures has ethical considerations. Aquatic physiotherapists therefore, should follow the current guidance on good practice that states that water temperature should not exceed 35 degrees centigrade (CSP 2015).  This is half a degree below the top end of thermoneutral to allow for minor differences in accuracy of the pool temperature measuring equipment.

Aside from pool temperature a risk assessment should be carried out to fully consider all aspects of the task, the level of exertion required, the individual’s day to day health and levels of fatigue.  All aspects of the pregnancy should be considered (i.e. history of miscarriage, twin pregnancy, ivf, low lying placenta, breakthrough bleeding, incompetent cervix , growth retardation, abnormal discharge, history of pre eclampsia, scans clear, BP issues, Gestational Diabetes - this list is not exhaustive) and perhaps seek medical advice if there are any concerns.