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Introduction to Animal-Assisted Therapy

Introduction to Animal-Assisted Therapy
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Online Self-Study
Downloadable e-book of course slides, a downloadable certificate of completion, and course video(s).



Curious about animal-assisted therapy, but never had the time to learn more about it? Isn’t animal-assisted therapy just taking your pets to work? In our one-hour course “Introduction to Animal-Assisted Therapy” you will learn about the foundational principles of the human-animal bond and the empirical research that supports this rapidly growing specialty area of practice. Also, you will gain insight into the professional competencies you need to develop in order to effectively and ethically practice animal-assisted therapy factoring in multicultural considerations. Furthermore, in this introductory course, you will be able to watch live demonstrations of animal-assisted therapy across a variety of settings, helping clients with a range of mental health issues. Participants are provided a handout with examples of animal-assisted therapy interventions.

List of topics covered in this course:

  • Definition of the human-animal bond and the empirical research that supports its efficacy
  • Definition of animal-assisted therapy
  • Animals as co-therapists and the triadic relationship
  • Benefits of incorporating animals into your professional practice
  • The purpose and different types of animal-assisted therapy interventions
  • Live video demonstrations of animal-assisted therapy at a farm and in an office
  • Introduction to the ACA’s animal-assisted therapy competencies
  • Benefits of becoming formally certified in animal-assisted therapy

This is a non-interactive self-study course. Instruction consists of 60+ minutes of video instruction and a post-test.


Following the video instruction, there is a 10-question post-test and a course evaluation.

Learning Objectives

  • Define the Human-Animal Bond, Animal-Assisted Therapy and related professional competencies
  • Describe key components of animal-assisted interventions across settings and their purpose in client sessions
  • Explain the importance of obtaining appropriate training and supervised experience to practice AAT ethically

Course Availability

From the time of registration, you have twelve months to access AAT coursework.


Dr. Christina Strayer, Ed.D, LCMHCS, AAT-I, THTC, CYT-200, NLC-P

Dr. Christina Strayer is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Supervisor, Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist-Associate, Pet Partner Team Evaluator, Animal Assisted Therapist-Interventionist and Life Coach with her coaching practice Energy Coaching with Horses and Others (E.C.H.O.) in North Carolina.  Her private practice is Animal Assisted Therapy of the Triangle.  She is trained in a variety of Integrative Therapies including Art, Yoga and Mindfulness. Her theoretical approach is Client-centered and Holistic. Along with her mini goats, avian, equine, canine and crustacean helpers, Christina combines her study of the power of the Human and Animal Bond in healing with proven counseling theories and techniques to guide clients in reaching their goals. 

She has a diverse background in counseling and teaching. She is the Lead Instructor for the Animal Assisted Therapy Interventionist (AAT-I) certification course.  She has served as an adjunct professor at Campbell University in the Counselor Education department.  She has traveled and conducted AAT seminars for PESI, a national continuing education organization and conducts Seminars/Workshops/Groups locally on a variety of Mental Health/Wellness topics.   She primarily works in the areas of PTSD, Panic Disorder, Crisis Intervention, Compassion Fatigue, Stress, Trauma, Grief and Loss, Anxiety, Addictions, Depression, Goal setting, Consultation, Self-Esteem, Conflict resolution, Social Skills, Team Building and Life Balance/Transitions.

Christina graduated from the Doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision through Argosy University in Sarasota, FL. She obtained both a Master of Science in Counseling and Human Development with a concentration in K-12 School Counseling and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Radford University in Radford, Virginia.  She completed her Doctoral dissertation in AAT with Dooli, a rescue English Bulldog/Boxer mix, who was a dear family member and a beloved therapy dog to many over the years.

CE Hours

Credit Hours: This course consists of 1 continuing education hour of credit.

Counselors: Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No, 6693.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.  Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. 

Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Mental Health Counselors. #MHC-0048.

Marriage and Family Therapists: Many MFT licensing boards accept our courses or one of the approvals which we have from professional associations.  You can check with your board to determine if your licensing board would accept this course.

Social Workers: Telehealth Certification Institute LLC, #1609, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 05/02/2024 – 05/02/2027. Social workers completing this course receive 1 clinical continuing education credit.

Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Social Workers #SW-0435.

Addiction Professionals: This course has been approved by Telehealth Certification Institute LLC, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #193104, Telehealth Certification Institute LLC is responsible for all aspects of the programming.

Psychologists: Telehealth Certification Institute LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Telehealth Certification Institute LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Psychologists #PSY-0128.

Art Therapists: Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists #CAT-0093.

Other Professionals: This course qualifies for 60 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations.  Retain your certificate of completion and contact your board or organization for specific filing requirements.

This is a non-interactive, self-study course.

How to Complete the Course and Earn Your CEs

To receive your certificate of completion you must complete the course in its entirety.

To complete an Online Self Study Course, one must register, log in, select the My Courses option from the menu items, click the Course Title, complete all of the requirements, complete and pass the post-test(s), and complete the course evaluation.

Psychologists and other professionals seeking CE credit through our approval with the American Psychological Association are asked, but not required, to complete the course evaluation before obtaining their certificate of completion, however passing a post-test for online self-study courses, and submitting one's attendance for live on-site and live webinars is required.

You can download or print your certificate of completion by logging into your account, navigating to the course by selecting the My Courses option from the menu items, clicking the Course Title, scrolling to the Certificate of Completion section, and clicking on the Certificate of Completion link to either download it or print it.

Participants may request a printed version of their certificate of completion to be delivered by mail. A shipping/handling fee of $6.95 will be charged per request. Shipping internationally may require an additional charge.

Directions for completing a course can be found by clicking here.

How to obtain the AAT-I Credential

Hold an approved license or certification. Click here to view the full list of approved clinician types.

In order to earn the Animal Assisted Therapy Interventionist (AAT-I) Credential, you are required to complete the full program. Details and enrollment options can be found here.

The AAT-I program consists of eight online, self-paced courses that are a mix of didactic presentations, videos, articles, textbooks and written assignments. The courses are:

  1. The History of AAT and AAT Principles
  2. AAT Competencies and Multicultural Considerations
  3. Animals as Co-Therapists: Selection, Behavioral, and Training Considerations
  4. Introduction to Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy
  5. Animals as Co-Therapists: Blending Animal Interventions with a Range of Professional Theories
  6. Animals as Co-Therapists: Exploring Animal Assisted Interventions Across Professions, Settings, and Populations
  7. Developing Treatment Plans and Tracking Outcomes
  8. Animal Assisted Therapy Overview and Experiential Examples

Upon completion of all 8 online courses, individuals will earn the AAT-I and can begin using the credential AAT-I.


An optional opportunity to expand your training and attend a 2-day live intensive (in North Carolina) with experiential exercises is also available. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details on this event.

Course Policies

Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities: Click here to view our Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities.

This course includes closed captioning.


Cancellation Policy: Refunds are offered within the first 30 days for courses which have not been completed.  There is a 10% service fee for refunds.


Grievance Policy: Click here to view our Grievance Policy. 


Click here to communicate with a knowledgeable staff member regarding subject matter guidance, correction, grading, comments, or problem resolution.

Who should attend

This course is only intended for professionals with a license or certification in their respective professions.  You can view the professional types that qualify to receive the Animal Assisted Therapy Interventionist Credential (AAT-I) by clicking here.

Teaching Methods

This is a non-interactive self-study course. Teaching methods for the course include recorded lectures, videos, text readings, assignments, and online discussions.

This course was updated August 15, 2023

List of the comments:
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2023-11-25 16:39
Very informative overview including animal training requirements and minimum time needed to work with a dog prior to seeing clients. This course was not a sales pitch, making it clear the difficulties involved in remaining client outcome focused while allowing animals to remain autonomous.
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2024-04-30 10:26
Very educational. Great topic to have.
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2024-05-03 22:31
This course provided an excellent introduction to the AAI credentialing program as well as wonderful video examples.
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2024-05-14 17:29
Good information that gives a better insight into what AAI is about, but I felt like a great deal of it focused on convincing you to join and become credentialed.
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2024-07-14 18:12
This was a great training introduction. I learned a great deal which has me considering getting the certificate!
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