The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation, an international resource for professional regulation stakeholders, states the purpose of a job task analysis is to “define practice of a profession in terms of the actual tasks that new practitioners must be able to perform safely and competently at the time of licensure or certification” (Chinn and Hertz, 2010). Previous literature on horticultural therapy job analysis has focused on gathering demographic data and exploring relationships between academics, education, employment, salaries, and professional registration (Larson et al., 2010; Shoemaker, 2003; Stober and Mattson, 1993). This research has contributed to the understanding of the issues and challenges of horticultural therapy as a profession and has been used to develop a core body of knowledge and establish necessity of professional certification. Research on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required to fulfill the job of a horticultural therapist, however, is lacking.
The work of identifying and establishing the professional identity of horticultural therapists began in the 1950s, evolved through the 1960s, and was formalized as a profession in the 1970s with the establishment of the National Council for Therapy and Rehabilitation through Horticulture [NCTRH (Davis, 1998)]. In 1987, NCTRH formally became the AHTA. A job task analysis of the horticultural therapy profession was conducted in 1982 and gathered information about the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform specific job tasks and responsibilities required of a horticultural therapist (Kuhnert et al., 1982). That study provided an overview of a horticultural therapist’s job description and established the necessity of horticulture, therapy, and horticultural therapy education in the training of a horticultural therapist (Kuhnert et al., 1982). That same year, research conducted by Murphy (1982) explored certification exam development. The results of that research validated the results of the 1982 job task analysis, confirmed the need for a core knowledge requirement for horticultural therapy, and supported the need for a certification exam before registration to ensure competency. Stober and Mattson (1993) explored certification testing in a survey of horticultural therapists that indicated 50.6% of all respondents agreed a certification test is necessary for the advancement of horticultural therapy as a profession. Similar results were obtained in a survey published in the Apr.–May 1998 AHTA newsletter, People Plant Connection, demonstrating that of the 117 respondents, 61 were in favor of certification testing (Silberstein, 1998).
Certification has continued to be a point of discussion in subsequent research. Shoemaker (2002) compared horticultural therapy to other allied professions (therapeutic recreation, occupational, art, and music therapies). The comparative results highlighted the difference between the allied professions in membership, educational requirements, certification, and curriculum accreditation, and demonstrated that the horticultural therapy profession has not achieved the same level of professional recognition as the allied professions.
In 2003, Shoemaker published the results of a 2001 survey of AHTA professionally registered members in which respondents reported that knowledge of horticultural and plant sciences, which included botany, plant propagation, and horticulture, were necessary. Respondents also reported the need for general human services classes such as psychology, counseling, and human development. It was noted from this survey that professional recognition through certification or licensure was important for the future of horticultural therapy.
Larson et al. (2010) continued to build on earlier research that supported certification and analyzed the demographic information of AHTA membership at large in relationship to factors such as education, employment, and horticultural therapy training. The results of this research acknowledged the analysis of demographic information is only one component in the overall process toward the development of a certification exam.
The purpose of this study was to perform a job task analysis to identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities currently used and/or performed by horticultural therapists.
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