Therapy Dog Program Inc.

Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C)


Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C)


Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C)


Indicates how the program is delivered.

Distance education (Online)


2020/21 Academic Year

Tuition for the full Certificate is $5700 Canadian.

If the tuition is payed in full, a discount of $200 will be applied ($5500 when paid in full).

Tuition payments may be made according to a payment schedule as stipulated in the student enrollment contract.


CANASSIST Therapy Dog Program Inc., is a non-profit Division of CEAACT – The Centre for Expressive Arts and Addictions Counselling Therapies Inc. CEAACT and CANASSIST are registered as a private vocational school in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. Private vocational and training institutions in Saskatchewan are regulated by The Ministry of Advanced Education is responsible for “developing a skilled and educated workforce that meets the needs of Saskatchewan’s labour market. The ministry works with the private sector, educational institutions and community organizations to develop, retain and attract skilled workers”. By maintaining a non-profit status, CANASSIST is able to promote the mental and emotional health of individuals and families and to people of all socio-economic backgrounds through the promotion of educational programs. We maintain partnership agreements with select groups and organizations dedicated to meeting the need for animal assisted interventions.


The AAT-C Certificate program is a dynamic, comprehensive, and academically rigorous program that encourages critical thinking, and welcomes experiential perspectives while maintain a research and evidence-based approach to education. Experiential and embodied learning fosters student competence, flexibility and professional skill development that enables clinicians to meet the complex demands of today’s clients. CANASSIST ensures that our students are actively involved in shaping their learning environment, while implementing new research and ideas in practice. Graduates of the program become leaders in the field in the areas of professional practice, research, and theoretical development in animal assisted therapeutic interventions. 

Our Certificate Program provides mental health providers, counsellors, social workers, students in caregiver fields of study, therapeutic animal owners and trainers in the mental health field, and other approved professionals with the knowledge needed to integrated animals into their practice. Two streams of study are possible:

  1. 1. Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C) Certificate – Trauma Focused
    1. A history of trauma can result in challenges with post-traumatic emotional and physical self-regulation and impulse control. Addictive behaviours and substances can provide a temporary sense of relief when the client is feeling overwhelmed. Although sharing knowledge about the connection between trauma and addiction may prove useful, traumatic memories are normally stored in parts of the brain where language cannot access them. Animal Assisted Interventions can provide tools and resources to effectively support clients who are dealing with both trauma. The trauma-focused certificate explores the needs of clients of all ages and provides the opportunity to develop specific interventions and treatment needs that are adaptive.

The Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C)  will prepare you to develop the skills and competencies you need to include animal assisted interventions with effective treatment plans while working with a wide variety of client populations. Our approach is to encourage response based and individualized interventions rather than a standardized formula. It is expected that you will be working with your own animals throughout the program. This provides you, as the clinician, with the added benefit of having a supportive human-animal bond with your therapy animal.

The AAT-C Certificate Program is aligned to meet the legal and ethical standards of animal assisted therapeutic interventions. All mental health professionals should have training and supervision before they work with an animal with clients. As the field of animal assisted interventions grows and gains recognition, many insurance companies require evidence of training and supervision as a condition of coverage.


As a graduate of the AAT-C program you will have gained knowledge and skill in:

CANASSIST Guiding Values


Participants must be students or graduates of a graduate program in a mental health or related field. Course content is clinically advanced and intended for clinicians and professionals with some experience working in the field. The Program has a fluid, open enrollment so that students can register and begin at any time.

Equivalency Assessments

An Equivalency Assessment (EA) is available for applicants who do not hold or have not completed an undergraduate degree from an accredited university required for admission to the Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C). The Equivalency Assessment application and process is to determine that the applicant has the required knowledge and skills that would match the equivalent of a university degree and would be successful in completing the program. The cost of applying for an EA is $200.


The AAT-C Certificate Program consists of 6 online courses at a graduate level of study in terms of reading, workload, writing expectations, and time required. Each course is worth 50 credit hours for a total of 300 program study hours.


Homework time can range from 4-8 hours per week, per course.

Course Structure: The Certificate coursework is self-paced and students may take up to 2 years to complete the program. Extensions are possible with a written request and supervisor approval.  Ongoing support and consultation is available to students throughout the program. Students can also network with others through our virtual classroom. Many of the assignments are traditional reading/writing, but experiential assignments are also included. Students will also be required to provide some video-taped sessions. The final course requires conducting a brief research study that includes a client and an animal as part of the therapeutic process. Students will conduct a single subject research design with pre and post treatment measures to be analyzed – effectively a case study, or the student can do a qualitative research study. Those with no research background need not be concerned as instructors will provide assistance and support.


All courses must be completed to a minimum of a passing grade (70%).


Title of Course/Work Experience Component# of Hours
Foundations of Animal assisted Therapeutic Interventions – The human animal bond50
Legal and Ethical Issues in Animal Assisted Interventions50
Animal Behavior, Ethology, Health and Development50
Learning Theory and Training – Applied animal behaviour50
Focused Study (trauma or addictions path) – Working with select populations50
Best Practices and Research as an Animal Assisted Clinician50
Total Instructional Hours300

NOTE: Due to CTAAT-CANASSIST’s ongoing enrollment, and based on a student’s background and clinical experience, courses and practicum can be taken consecutively or concurrently. Students can pace themselves to fit their work situation.


  1. AAT-C 1: Foundations of Animal assisted Therapeutic Interventions – The human animal bond. The Foundations of Animal assisted Therapeutic Interventions – The human animal bond explores the well documented, mutually beneficial relationship between humans. Specifically, this course explores how the potential for that bond can be developed in therapeutic settings where the relationships include the animal and therapist, animal and client, and therapist and client. You will understand how different animals, depending on their size, nature, and environmental needs, can facilitate therapeutic interventions with various populations of different ages, and with different needs. The course is designed to help dog owners, owner-trainers and mental health professionals determine a become familiar with the development of treatment plans and appropriate animal-assisted interventions.
  2. AAT-C 2: Legal and Ethical Issues in Animal Assisted Interventions. Working with various types of animals require several legal and ethical considerations. Increasingly, as animal-assisted interventions gain recognition, so too does the need for formal training and an awareness of the implications to the animal, the client, and more broadly to your practice. This course requires an awareness of these issues, but also asks students to reflectively consider how they may impact decisions made about the way they integrate animals in their practice.
  3. AAT-C 3: Animal Behavior, Ethology, Health and Development. The learning objectives of this course is to teach the clinician to recognize body language, stress vs. distress through observation. Learners will understand and interpret therapy animals’ behavior (ethology), and to better communicate with the animals they work with in order to create therapeutic interventions that enrich the lives of the animals and humans alike.  This course provides the foundation for AAT-C 4: Learning Theory and Training – Applied animal behaviour.
  4. AAT-C 4: Learning Theory and Training – Applied animal behaviour. This course familiarizes the practitioner with the theoretical basis of training terminology and meanings in the context of animal assisted interventions. Learning theory emerged from the recognition that animal behaviours are learned in response to various stimuli that motivate them to act, or not. This course moves deeply from theoretical background, into the elements of applied animal behaviour and training. For this course, it is necessary that you have an animal to work with and video demonstrations of various techniques will be required.  The application of AAT or AAP is most often thought of within its own context, not within the context of sound theory. Your competency in animal assisted interventions will be evaluated based on your ability to integrate theory with a focus on the path you have chosen for this course:
    1. Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C) Certificate – Trauma Focused
    1. Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C) Certificate – Addictions Focused
  5. AAT-C5: Focused Study (trauma or addictions path) – Working with select populations. This course will encompass current theories and best practices in working within a trauma-focused or addictions-focused spectrum, with the integration of animal assisted interventions. For example, some interventions may integrate animal assisted interventions with the use of metaphor and storytelling, attachment and empathy building activities, play therapy and arts-based expressions. This course provides the opportunity for learners to explore the literature that supports AAT in clinical settings that are most relevant to their practice. The learner will identify the specific risks and benefits of AAT, for both humans and animals.Participants will develop a framework for treatment plans with specific interventions for their chosen track of study.
  6. AAT-C6: Best Practices and Research as an Animal Assisted Clinician. This course is a thorough review of best practices in managing your clinical practice with the adjunct of animal assisted therapy animals. The primary focus is on canine assisted interventions, although the material can be applied to other animals as discussed throughout the course. Research is an important tool in establishing the success of animal assisted interventions. The course will review both qualitative and quantitative research methodology to prepare you for a study you will be required to complete. The study does not need to be complex and you will be given a great deal of support and guidance. The findings of your study will be submitted as a written assignment.

This Certificate requires, and provides students with, monthly supervision by your instructor.