AAT Courses

Unlike other care-giving disciplines such as occupational therapy, recreational therapy or social work, the field of animal-assisted therapy and activities is not a profession requiring licensure. No national credentialing organizations provide official certification or accreditation, nor are there any state licensing regulations. While it is possible for anyone with a pet to call themselves an “animal therapist” and make visits to people who would appreciate a friendly furry visitor, it is unwise and potentially hazardous to undertake AAT/AAA without prior training. Many facilities require AAT/AAA handlers and animals to have training, registration, and insurance coverage. Not only must the animal be registered and demonstrate that it has a suitable temperament for this work, but the handler must have the right personality, expectations and skills as well. And at all times the welfare of everyone involved – animals, clients, patients, visitors, staff, volunteers, handlers – must be ensured.

The courses described here provide basic training as an introduction to the opportunities and responsibilities in conducting effective animal-based interventions. They offer a Certificate of Completion and continuing education credits – not a professional “Certification.” The Certificate is all that is generally required at this time.


Harcum-LogoThis 10-week online course, offered three times a year since 2005, introduces multi-disciplinary professionals, volunteers, and those wishing to enter the field to key concepts in human-animal interactions, types of AAT/AAA programs, criteria for safe and effective interventions, and techniques for visiting and organizing a program. Online research and interactions with fellow students and the instructor are supplemented with site visits to see local programs in action. Click here for more information.


CCC-LogoThis 10-week course has been offered since 1996 on Saturday mornings each Spring at the Blackwood, N.J. campus on the outskirts of Philadelphia. World-class lecturers and field trips to observe animal therapy programs in action provide students a Continuing Education experience to further their professional and personal development, build a local support network, and explore the wonderful world of animal-assisted therapy and activities. Click here for more information.



The Animals and Society Institute maintains an extensive list of courses in many disciplines of Human-Animal Studies, including animal-assisted therapy, psychology, sociology, social work and counseling, and many more.