Policy statement: Standards of physical therapist practice

Policy type

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) recognises the absolute importance of developing and documenting agreed standards for the practice of physical therapy.  These standards are necessary to:

  • demonstrate to the public that physical therapists are concerned with the quality of the services provided and are willing to implement self-regulatory programmes to maintain that quality
  • guide the development of professional education
  • guide practitioners in the conduct and evaluation of their practices
  • provide governments, regulatory bodies and other professional groups with background information about the professional nature of physical therapy
  • effectively communicate with members of the profession, employers, other health professions, governments and the public

WCPT recognises the diverse social, political and economic environments in which physical therapy is practised throughout the world. 

WCPT encourages its member organisations to:

  • develop specific standards for physical therapy practice to suit prevailing circumstances
  • unite to formulate agreed standards where appropriate to the political environment
  • consider the following principles in the process of developing standards:
    • reflect the values, conditions and goals necessary for the continuing advancement of the profession
    • base values on valid principles and make them measurable
    • design standards  to help the profession meet the changing needs of the community
    • base standards upon clear definitions of the scope of practice and accountability
    • make standards sufficiently broad and flexible to achieve their objectives and at the same time permit innovation, growth and change
    • subject standards to regular review with revision as required
  • set national practice standards in the following areas:
    • administration and practice management
    • community responsibility
    • education
    • informed consent
    • patient/client management
    • quality assurance
    • support personnel
    • communication
    • documentation
    • ethical behaviour
    • legal
    • personal/professional development
    • research


Scope of practice — is a statement describing physical therapy within the context of the regulatory environment and evidence base for practice within a jurisdiction. Scopes of practice are dynamic, evolving with changes in the evidence base, policy and needs of service users. WCPT sets out the internationally agreed scope of practice and member organisations set out the scope of practice agreed in their countries.[1]

Standards of practice — are a collection of documents describing the professional consensus on the practise of physical therapy for physical therapists working in any occupational setting. Standards reflect the collective judgement of the profession at a given point in time.[2]


Approval, review and related policy information
Date adopted:

Originally approved at the 13th General Meeting of WCPT June 1995.

Revised and re-approved at the 15th General Meeting of WCPT June 2003.

Revised and re-approved at the 16th General Meeting of WCPT June 2007.

Revised and re-approved at the 17th General Meeting of WCPT June 2011.
Date for review: 2015
Related WCPT Policies:

WCPT policy statements:

WCPT guidelines:

  1. World Confederation for Physical Therapy. Policy statement: Support personnel for physical therapy practice. London, UK: WCPT; 2011.  (Access date 22nd September 2011)
  2. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Rules and Standards. London, UK: CSP; 2005.  (Access date 23rd March 2010)