Introduction to Animal Assisted Play Therapy®



This course provides an overview of Animal Assisted Play Therapy® (AAPT), a therapeutic approach that fully integrates play therapy and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), with significant contributions from several other fields. It is most often used to treat a wide range of child, adolescent, and family psychosocial problems, and it is also appropriate for groups and adults of all ages. The course provides the definition of AAPT, guiding principles and values, goal areas, required therapist competencies, animal selection and preparation, descriptions of the type of relationship between therapist and animal and how to achieve that, the types of settings used, the wide range of methods and interventions available, the welfare of animals, an overview of applications and ethics, and numerous case examples of this promising approach in action. The focus is on dogs and horses, but the principles and methods can be used with other species as well. The approach has been used by mental health, allied health, and education professionals.

This course is intended as a thorough introduction, but not as an in-depth training program. People completing the course will have a solid understanding of the possibilities and procedures for AAPT, but should not begin the practice of AAPT based upon this single course.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. This course does serve as one of the prerequisites for the 4-day live skills-building course, Animal Assisted Play Therapy®, Level 1.

CE Credits Available: 14

Required Text (sold separately): VanFleet, R., & Faa-Thompson, T. (2017). Animal Assisted Play Therapy. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press.

Instructor: Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC, Licensed Psychologist (PA)

Learning Objectives: Participants in this course will be able to…

  1. define Animal Assisted Play Therapy and describe how it differs from other Animal Assisted Therapy modalities.
  2. define play therapy and how it differs from other child or family therapy interventions.
  3. describe what is meant by each of the Guiding Principles of AAPT and why each one is important.
  4. explain why the animal’s welfare is equally important to that of the client.
  5. identify five primary goal areas for AAPT work.
  6. list the competencies needed by therapists to do this work competently and ethically.
  7. describe the key components for preparing a dog to be involved in play therapy work.
  8. describe the major forms of play therapy within which AAPT can be applied.
  9. explain at least 5 different AAPT interventions.
  10. explain the importance of working with horses in familiar, natural environments.
  11. describe the 3 criteria that must be met for dressing up an animal in an ethical and humane manner.
  12. list the sequence with which one debriefs a group after an AAPT activity.
  13. list the qualities that go into a healthy therapist-animal relationship
  14. describe what the 3-second rule is and how to conduct it.
  15. describe why perfect behavior is not a requirement of AAPT therapy animals.
  16. describe at least 2 ways in which playfulness or lightness can be incorporated into the AAPT process.

You will automatically receive access to the course materials upon completion of payment. Please make sure that you add to your address book or email whitelist. 

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