Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy – Counselling

Certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy – Counselling

In addition to the elective course offered through the Clinical Diploma in Therapeutic Arts and Addictions, CEAACT now offers a Certificate in Annimal Assisted Therapy – Counselling (AAT-C) program!

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 Therapy Dog Program Inc., is a non-profit Division of CEAACT– The Centre for Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Counselling. CEAACT and CANASSIST are registered as a private vocational school in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

CANASSIST ensures that our students are actively involved in determining the course of learning that best suits their needs, while implementing best practices supported by the most recent research and applied practices. Graduates of the program develop competencies in the field in the areas of professional practice, animal behaviour, research, and theoretical development in animal assisted therapeutic interventions. The program evaluates how animal assisted therapy can be integrated with therapeutic art, storytelling, play therapy and more.

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. Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C) Certificate – Trauma Focused
    • 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.
  • 2. Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling (AAT-C) Certificate – Addictions Focused
    • Animal-assisted therapy offers a varied range of applications to meet patient needs in different settings, and for a variety of conditions. These include the opportunity to experience a safe connection/relationship with a therapy dog, equine/riding therapy, and in some cases clients have been able to engage in the rehabilitation and training of service animals to assist others with specific needs in their day to day lives. In some therapeutic settings, clients are able to interact with trained therapy animals in individual and group sessions. Studies have found that AAT is significantly effective in treatment with adult substance use disorder clients in residential addiction treatment programs, individuals mandated by the criminal justice system to enter substance abuse treatment, and adolescents/young adults in inpatient and day treatment settings. The addictions focused certificate assists in the development of specific interventions that are responsive to the needs of clients in various settings.

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.


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 CEAACT-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.