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THERAPY AND TRAUMA DOG EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR PROFESSIONALS

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

CANASSIST ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY – COUNSELLING CERTIFICATE

The CANASSIST Therapy Dog Program offers an Animal Assisted Therapy – Counselling (AAT-C) Certificate program for clinicians who are interested in integrating a therapy animal in their practice. The program can also provide important mental health background to professional dog trainers so they are better able to meet the needs of clients who need the support of an animal. The CANASSIST program fosters student competence, flexibility and professional skill development that enables mental health clinicians and professional dog trainers to meet the complex demands of today’s clients. CANASSIST ensures that students are actively involved in shaping their learning environment, while implementing new research and ideas in practice. Graduates of the program can become leaders in the field in the areas of professional practice, research, and theoretical development in animal assisted therapeutic interventions. 

The ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY – COUNSELLING (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 learning fosters student competence, flexibility and professional skill development that enables professionals to meet the complex interactions of animals in therapeutic and service relationships. 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. 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.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES

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

  • legal and ethical issues in AAT-C
  • the human animal bond, health, development and life stages
  • ethology, body language and observational skills
  • applied behavior analysis
  • applied learning theory in animals
  • trauma or addictions track – focused study on working with select populations
  • counselling skills and best practices in documentation and assessment of your effectiveness as an animal assisted clinician
  • individual supervision is provided monthly

CANASSIST Guiding Values

CANASSIST operates on the principle that the human-animal bond should be mutually beneficial.

CANASSIST endorses work that only includes animals whose lives are enriched by that work; as determined by ongoing assessments to assure that each animal is free to participate or withdraw if they choose.

CANASSIST recognizes the value of animal assisted interventions that adapt to the needs of individual and work to positively build on their strengths.

CANASSIST provides students and access to research findings and resources that support an evidence-based education in animal assisted interventions.