Clinical Competency Certificate

The APTA Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy Clinical Competency Certificate provides physical therapists and physical therapy assistants with a comprehensive study of the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to provide safe evidence-based patient care using the aquatic environment. Participants in this course will demonstrate clinical competency in aquatic physical therapy by completing a series of both written and practical skills tests.

This is the only certificate program sponsored by a component of the APTA specifically designed for the aquatic physical therapy professional.

The APTA Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy Clinical Competency Certificate is an assessment-based course in aquatic physical therapy.  It is important to note that there is not a credential associated with the completion of this program as it is not recognized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (ABPTS). Consequently, participants are also not entitled to the designation of board certified specialist.

There are 7 online learning modules through the APTA Learning Center and a 3-day in-person pool course to complete the entire certificate series.


  • Aquatic Physical Therapy History by David Morris, PT, PhD, FAPTA
  • Aquatic Physics by Teresa Petersen, PT, MS
  • Physiology of Immersion by: Marty Biondi, PT
  • Critical Thinking and Aquatic Interventions by: Holly Lookabaugh-Deur PT, DSc and Emily Dunlap, PT
  • Pool Chemical and Safety by: Richard Vicory, PT, DPT
  • Risk Management Issues by: David Morris, PT, PhD, FAPTA
  • Aquatic Billing and Documentation by: Christine Taylor, PT, DPT

On-Site Learning: 3-day in-person pool/lab course

Participants at this 3 day course will experience hands-on training to integrate skills and knowledge learned from the online modules of the APTA Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy Clinical Competency Certificate.Emphasis will be placed on handling techniques to give the participant confidence to apply their knowledge to a wide base of treatment applications.Participants will be challenged to maximize the effectiveness of their treatments utilizing the unique properties of water and pool equipment.A variety of aquatic therapy techniques will be demonstrated and multiple case studies will aid the learner in understanding the aquatic therapy continuum from evaluation to discharge to wellness.Participants can expect to be in the pool for the majority of the course and will be tested on their handling skills as well as integration of online and pool course material.

 Pool Course Objectives
  1. Apply critical thinking to evidence based practice to support the need for aquatic physical therapy intervention.
  2. Recognize and respond to potential challenges prior to pool entry for specific patient populations.
  3. Appropriately select pool equipment best suited for patient treatment goals.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to logically progress exercise in the water.
  5. Confidently handle patients of all types in the water in all depths and all positions.
  6. Apply clinical interventions for gait and balance training in the water.
  7. Integrate aquatic techniques for maximizing muscle performance during aquatic physical therapy treatments.
  8. Demonstrate modifications to address possible sensory integration challenges when in aquatic treatment session.
  9. Develop and integrate individualized cardiovascular techniques based on patient’s needs.
  10. Demonstrate basic understanding of Halliwick, Bad Ragaz Ring Method, Watsu, Ai Chi, AquaStretch, Aqua Yoga and Burdenko Method.

July 17-19, 2020 
The Marsh
Minnetonka, MN

October 16-18, 2020 
Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, OH



Online Portion of the Program
Each Webinar:
$100 Member/$140 Non-Member
Bundling the 7 webinars saves money: $530 Members/$740 Non-Member

Lab Portion of the Program
In-person Pool Course:
$760 Member/$1090 Non-Member


Looking to have 10 or more staff members complete the APTA Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy Clinical Competency Certificate? We have special rates and come to you!
Contact us at and ask about our corporate program.