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Animal Assisted Psychotherapy:
Feline & Canine Companionship in Treatment

2 CE Credits/Hours - Online Course - $19.00

Developed by Robin R. Norris, Ph.D., LMFT

This course is offered as part of an Animal Assisted Therapy Certificate Program of 18 CE Credits.

This course includes materials consisting of:

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General Course Description

Animals have been aids to humans for centuries. In our modern times we have now chosen to utilize them as helpers in the psychotherapeutic process. While much of the research on animal assisted therapy is qualitative and full of personal description, researchers are now beginning to study the use of animals in a quantitative manner. Research with animals as psychotherapy assistants suggests that humans show signs of reduced stress, fear and anxiety, and increased calmness and comfort when the right animal is present. Animal assisted therapy, as a complementary therapy, has been beneficial to both children and adults in individual and group settings.

Animal assistants come in all shapes, sizes, types, and breeds. Animal assisted therapy is being used within many populations including but not limited to at-risk youth, children with language delays, geriatrics, victims of violence, wounded warriors, and those with varied mental conditions (autism, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance dependence, mood disorders, and psychotic disorders). Overall, animals in a psychotherapy situation can enhance trust, prompt thoughts of safety, promote emotional expression, encourage the use of appropriate social skills, and empower clients.

This is a one CE credit, brief introductory course on animal assisted therapy comprised of two short videos and an article. The videos demonstrate how the presence of a canine enables a child to attend to a current researcher in the field. The article further describes the benefits of an animal assistant when matched with specific psychotherapy theories. Additional resources are provided for further exploration on this topic.

Disclaimer: This course is purely educational and does not intend to serve as a license (or permission) to mental health professionals to prescribe or practice any of the approaches discussed in this course unless they fall within the scope of practice of your profession. Check with your licensing board about the scope of practice of your profession to make sure you practice within that scope.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach psychotherapists to:

1.    Describe some of the primary uses of an animal in a psychotherapy situation.

2.    Review the benefits of animal assisted psychotherapy.

Course Syllabus

Introduction & History


  • Animal assisted therapy with a substance dependent population

Applications of Animal Assisted Therapy

  • With children

Collaborative Efforts

  • Counseling theories commonly matched with animal assisted techniques and interventions

References & Resources

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