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Certification

TXST arch

The Texas State University AAC Academy offers a professional certification in animal-assisted counseling. 

Why Get a Certification in AAC?

The AAT in Counseling Competencies (Stewart et al., 2016) adopted by the American Counseling Association, require that practitioners who use animal-assisted interventions have specific knowledge, skills, and supervised experience. The AAC Academy integrates the AAT-C Competencies into the curriculum. This document demonstrates how AAC Academy instruction and supervision align with each AAT-C Competency: AAC Academy Alignment with AAT-C Competencies.

Continuing Education

APT Approved Provider Logo

The Texas State University AAC Academy is sponsored by Pawsitive Counseling, LLC to offer play therapy CEs (APT Approved Provider #21-638). The AAC Academy training also meets standards required by the Texas Boards of Examiners of Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, and Social Workers.

Pawsitive Counseling

Steps to Certification in AAC

CGC Pre-requisite

Canine Good Citizen Prerequisite

To participate in the AAC Academy with a dog, your dog must have a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate. This is to ensure that you and your dog have mastered basic skills as a team and are ready for more advanced instruction and skills in the AAC Academy.

Introduction

Introduction to AAC Training

This training a four-week online training. This training provides an introduction to animal-assisted counseling and play therapy, history and theories of AAC and play therapy, the human-animal bond, evidence-based research in AAC, various therapeutic settings, animal communication, and positive training approaches for AAC. 

Due to COVID-19 health concerns, this one-time online event has been approved by APT for 8 CONTACT CE Hours and 32 non-contact CE credits.

Participants earn 40 CEs:

  • 8 contact (synchronous - online together)
  • 32 non-contact (asynchronous - reading and online learning activities)

These 40 CEs cover the following play therapy content areas to become a Registered Play Therapist: (Play Therapy History: 5 CEs, Play Therapy Seminal Theories: 10 CEs, Play Therapy Techniques/Skills or Methods: 15 CEs, and Play Therapy Applications/Special Populations: 10 CEs)

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Examine and discuss the introduction to animal-assisted counseling and play therapy history and theory.
  2. Define and explain the nature and purpose of animal-assisted counseling and play therapy and the human-animal bond.
  3. Identify evidence-based research AAC and play therapy.
  4. Explore of the use of goal-directed AAC and play therapy with different settings and populations.
  5. Identify aspects of canine-communication and positive training approaches and how to apply this knowledge in counseling and play therapy settings.
  6. Summarize ethical, legal, and professional issues in AAC and play therapy.
Expand All Content
  • Week 1 - What is AAC?

    • 6:30-7:30p - Human-animal bond, AAIs - pathways to well-being, scope of helping dogs
    • 7:30-8:30p - AAC research, AAC vs volunteer therapy animal training, AAC competencies, integrity of AAC field

    Week 2 - Animal Welfare & Ensuring Safety in AAC

    • 6:30-7:30p - Five freedoms for animals, ensuring safety in AAC
    • 7:30-8:30p - Human-animal miscommunication, facilitating client-animal greetings

    Week 3 - Animal Communication

    • 6:30-7:30p - Canine stress/calming signals, positive signals, responding to animal stress signals
    • 7:30-8:30p - Animal communication practice

    Week 4 - Positive Training & Next Steps

    • 6:30-7:30p - Positive training
    • 7:30-8:30p - Next steps in AAC certification

Intermediate Methods

Intermediate Methods in AAC Training

This training provides intermediate training in animal-assisted counseling and play therapy skills and techniques in the context of a human-animal team. Participants will learn AAC interventions and skills to pass the AAC Team Evaluation. All animals will be pre-assessed prior to the training. 

Participants earn 40 CEs (24 direct, 16 indirect).

Prerequisite: Introduction to AAC

These 40 CEs cover the following play therapy content areas to become a Registered Play Therapist: (Play Therapy Techniques/Skills or Methods: 24 CEs, and Play Therapy Applications/Special Populations: 16 CEs)

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Assess animal and handler readiness and fit for animal-assisted counseling and play therapy.
  2. Demonstrate ability to identify stress signals in animal partner and ensure animal safety in a counseling and play therapy clinical context.
  3. Recognize special needs of specific client groups and culturally responsive modalities in animal-assisted counseling and play therapy.
  4. Integrate learning of animal-assisted counseling and play therapy interventions by demonstrating at least two interventions with animal partner and a peer.
  5. Demonstrate play therapy facilitative skills and AAC aptitude and skills for the AAC team evaluation with animal partner.
  6. Apply and adhere to ethical and legal standards in AAC and play therapy.
  • Days 1 & 2

    • 9-10:30a - Human & animal introductions
    • 10:30a-12p - Informed consent & limit setting
    • 1-2:30p - AAC Team Evaluation practice w/dog trainer
    • 2:30-4p - Takeaways & Barking Lot

    Days 3 & 4

    • 9-10:30a - Reading review
    • 10:30a-12p - AAC interventions practice
    • 1-2:30p - AAC Team Evaluation practice
    • 2:30-4p - Takeaways & Barking Lot

AAC Team Evaluation

AAC Team Evaluation

The AAC Team Evaluation is an in-person assessment of how you work with your animal partner in a counseling setting. Participants will learn the skills that will be assessed and practice for this evaluation during the Intermediate Methods in AAC Training.

Prerequisite: Intermediate Methods in AAC 

Practicum

Practicum in AAC Training

This training provides advanced training in animal-assisted counseling and play therapy facilitative skills and techniques through the supervision of therapy animal teams working with clients. 

Participants earn 40 CEs (24 direct, 16 indirect)

Prerequisite: Intermediate Methods in AAC & AAC Team Evaluation

These 40 CEs cover the following play therapy content areas to become a Registered Play Therapist: (Play Therapy Techniques/Skills or Methods: 24 CEs, and Play Therapy Applications/Special Populations: 16 CEs)

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Explore and develop techniques that integrate an animal partner into counseling and play therapy.
  2. Develop a treatment plan that links AAC and play therapy interventions to therapeutic goals.
  3. Apply culturally-responsive AAC and play therapy techniques to therapeutic work with clients.
  4. Demonstrate ability to identify stress signals in animal partner and ensure animal safety in a counseling and play therapy clinical context.
  5. Demonstrate effective use of AAC and play therapy facilitative skills and techniques in a clinical context with clients.
  6. Apply and adhere to ethical and legal standards in AAC and play therapy.
  • Days 1 & 2

    • 9-10:30a - AAC Session 1
    • 10:30a-12p - AAC Session 2
    • 12-1:30p - Professional AAC team photos
    • 1-2:30p - AAC Skills Checklist feedback
    • 2:30-4p - Review AAC recordings

    Days 3 & 4

    • 9-10:30a - AAC Session 3
    • 10:30a-12p - AAC Session 4
    • 1-2:30p - AAC Skills Checklist feedback
    • 2:30-3:30p - AAC intervention sharing
    • 3:30-4p - AAC Academy Graduation!

Supervision

AAC Supervision

Supervision provides practitioners with post-training support and guidance. This allows practitioners the opportunity to enhance and hone their AAC skills in their own clinical settings. AAC supervision will be provided in a HIPAA-compliant online format. The 10 supervision sessions will include case consultation, AAC skills assessment, ethical decision-making discussions, and treatment planning.

Prerequisite: Practicum in AAC 

Certification

Certification in AAC

Certification in AAC is earned when practitioners have completed all steps of the AAC Academy. Certification demonstrates that a practitioner has developed skills that align with the AAT-C Competencies and has the knowledge, skills, and experience to work effectively with their animal partner in a clinical setting. 

Note: Practitioners must have a professional license in order to be certified in AAC. If practitioners are graduate students or post-graduate interns, they will be listed on the AAC Academy website as "AAC Academy Graduates", but will not earn their "Certification in AAC" until they have a professional clinical license, such as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), or LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).

Sofie graduation