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Training Frequently Asked Questions

I'm interested in doing what you do? How do I get there?

In order to provide animal assisted psychotherapy, you need to start with a minimum of a Master's Degree in a mental health or social work field. Most of our clinicians have Master's Degrees in Counseling, Counseling Psychology or Social Work. (In order to get into a Master's Degree program you will likely need to complete your Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, Human Services, Social Work, etc.). The training to be an Animal Assisted Psychotherapist is considered a post-graduate training, or a specialty. So, you need to know how to be a counselor or social worker first, then add the specialty. 

I have a great dog. Can I just bring him to work with me?

In 2016 the American Counseling Association publicized Competencies that must be fulfilled in order to ethically provide animal assisted therapy-counseling (this is the equivalent of animal assisted psychotherapy). Click here to read the article. The competencies state clearly that the professional must have formal training and supervision.  Additionally, insurance will likely not cover an event if the professional cannot demonstrate they are operating within the scope of their training and experience. Even if you are not a member of ACA, similar competencies are likely being formulated from within the other professional organizations.

What does your program to do help me?

AATPC has one of the only internationally recognized training programs in clinical animal assisted psychotherapy. What's more, our model is based on practice; in the 20+ years of our experience with animal assisted psychotherapy we  have treated hundreds of clients with a wide range of mental health issues, and with numerous types of animals. We are highly qualified to help you reach your professional goals.

Do I need a Certificate?

A Certificate of Education provides you with the knowledge base to be proficient in a specific area of study. Our Certificate of Education in Animal Assisted Psychotherapy provides you with the education and knowledge to know how to practice AAP safely, ethically and competently. AATPC’s Certificate in AAP is focused on the clinical application of AAP and will teach you the skills needed to design and provide effective animal assisted interventions in your own psychotherapy practice. By earning your Certificate of Education you are demonstrating your commitment to a being a specialist in this growing field. And, our Certificate Program meets all of the ACA competencies.

Will my state recognize my Certificate?

At this time there are no national or state regulations on providing Animal Assisted Psychotherapy. Like other specialty areas within mental health, if you can demonstrate that you have training and experience in proving AAP within the scope of your license (or other allowable state requirements to practice psychotherapy), your work should be recognized.

What about Insurance?

While it is imperative that you check with your own liability insurance policy, most policies will cover you for those areas of practice that fall within your scope of training and experience. Therefore, it is essential that you can provide your insurance carrier evidence that you have sufficient training to provide AAP. Most insurance companies will accept our Certificate of Education as part of this evidence. However, we cannot guarantee individual insurance policies and there may be other requirements, such as Certification for you and your animal(s) through a separate Certifying organization (such as Professional Therapy Dogs of Colorado, Pet Partners, etc.).

When can I start working on my Certificate Program?

The program is self-paced and can start whenever you are ready. Once you are accepted and enrolled in the program you will receive the book list and information on how to log-in to our online classroom – then you are ready to get started!

How long will it take me to complete the Certificate?

Since the program is self-paced this is really up to you. We have students who are very committed to completing the program and can finish in 6-months. There are 6 online courses, and each course has between 5-7 assignments, usually including reading, watching videos, observation, and papers.

I don't have a Master's Degree or it's not in a Counseling field... can I still apply?

The program is designed to be a post-graduate course, therefore the coursework is geared towards students who have already completed their education and skills at a minimum of a Master’s level (for students in other countries please talk to us since not every educational system works the same way). The program is also designed for those who already have strong clinical skills so that they can focus on adding the animals to their existing work. Students have found it difficult to apply the program skills without having this background in mental or behavioral health already. However, our 3-Day Intensive Workshops can be a great way to learn about the field.

What kind of contact will I have with the Instructors?

Once you start your Certificate you will schedule a regular “supervision meeting” time (usually over the phone or via Zoom) with our Training Director, Ellen Winston, who will help to make the courses manageable and applicable to your goals. Our instructors are committed to helping you reach your goal and are always available to answer your questions.

I have more questions. Can we talk?

Absolutely. We are happy to have a Professional Consultation with you in order to answer any questions you may have. You may call Ellen Winston at 720-266-4444 x2  or email at or Linda Chassman at 720-266-4444- x1 t or email to to schedule a Professional Consultation

To learn more about our training program, or to schedule a consultation, you can contact us at: 720-266-4444 x2, or send us an email at We look forward to working with you.

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