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Idaho State University

Animal Assisted Interventions In Counseling (AAI-C)

Certificate In Animal Assisted Interventions In Counseling

The ISU Department of Counseling is pleased to offer a 9-credit Certificate program in Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling (AAI-C). The courses in this curriculum will be offered in the summer only and are based on the American Counseling Association (ACA) Competencies for providers of Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling. Courses are open to currently enrolled ISU counseling masters and doctoral students, ISU counseling alums, practicing professional counselors from any program, and masters and doctoral students currently enrolled in other counseling or related programs outside of ISU. Students from other helping professions are welcome, but should note that the curriculum focuses on the ACA Code of Ethics. The curriculum includes the following 3-credit courses to be taken sequentially:

  • COUN 6684: Introduction to Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling, Idaho State University. Students will understand and demonstrate knowledge of the history, philosophy, and theoretical foundations of Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling (AAI-C). This course will be offered online.
  • COUN 6685: Best Practices in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling, Idaho State University. Students will understand and demonstrate knowledge of best practices in Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling (AAI-C), with particular emphasis on professional ethics, provider competence, and animal advocacy. This course will be offered in an intensive, two-week format and available in person OR via webinar with Zoom teleconference technology.
  • COUN 6686: Applied Practice in Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling, Idaho State University. This experiential skills development course is designed to train students to be knowledgeable and competent to begin applied practice in AAI-C under supervision. The course will facilitate integration of essential AAI-C with students' existing counseling skills so that students may safely, ethically, and effectively incorporate AAI-C into the counseling process. This course will be offered in an intensive, one-week, in person only format.

National Endorsements

The following professionals have reviewed our curriculum in depth.

"The field of AAI has been growing over the past few decades. Graduate level coursework for counselors and other mental health professionals is critical to support the training of these individuals in bridging research to best practice. Idaho State University's triad of courses provides a strong overview of the major tenets facing the field. It is highly recommend for any professionals interested in incorporating AAI in their regime of practice."

-Aubrey H. Fine, Professor/Licensed Psychologist, CA Poly State University, Pomona


“Pet Partners is excited to see a certificate option with a strong focus on therapy animal welfare, particularly with an intensive supervised applied practice component with a registered therapy animal. Dr. Stewart’s work as the primary author for Animal Assisted Therapy Competencies in counseling has done much to articulate the need for knowledge and skills in this burgeoning field. This certificate is a great opportunity for practitioners/counselors to develop those knowledge and skills to bring the power of the human-animal bond to those who may benefit.”
-Annie Peters, President & CEO of Pet Partners


“I’m delighted to see that Idaho State University’s Animal-Assisted Interventions in Counseling program focuses on all three points of the triangle: the needs of the client, the skills of the practitioner, and—of vital importance to me—the comfort and well-being of the animal involved. The curriculum keeps professionalism and animal advocacy front and center, and it aligns with the Pet Partners and ACA Competencies, which all skillful practitioners must master.”
-Colleen Pelar, Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Author “Living with Kids and Dogs” and specialist in dog-child relationships 


Idaho State University offers an exceptional opportunity for students and professionals alike to advance their skills and knowledge in the area of animal-assisted interventions used in a counseling setting. Quality educational programs such as this are vital to promote the safe and ethical application of this fast growing specialty area of practice. I am honored to endorse Dr. Leslie Stewart's courses, and would recommend them for any professional interested in animal-assisted interventions.

- Leif Hallberg, M.A., LPC, LCPC, author of The Clinical Practice of Equine-Assisted Therapy and The Equine-Assisted Therapy Workbook

Frequently Asked Questions

When are the course offered?

The courses will be offered only in the summer. The first course (Intro to AAI-C) will be offered online only in late May, the second course will be offered in person OR via webinar dates in mid-June based on student needs and instructor availability. The third and final course will be offered in person only in an intensive one-week workshop format, dates TBD based on student needs and instructor availability. On-campus housing may be arranged for students from outside of Pocatello. Students must complete both prerequisite courses to be eligible for the third course.

Can I bring my animal?

The first two classes are for human students only. Due to liability considerations, we will only be able to accommodate fully registered therapy animals with appropriate documentation in the Applied Practice class. Participating with your own registered animal in the Applied Practice class is optional, and NOT required.

During the second class (Best Practices in AAI-C), you will learn how to become appropriately registered as a therapy team with your animal. If you are able to get your own animal registered after this class ends and before the third class (Applied Practice in AAI-C) begins, you'll be permitted to do supervised mock counseling sessions with your own animal. That is why we schedule a year in between the second and third class. If you're unable to do this at that time, you will be allowed to practice under live supervision (with the handler in the room) with a registered volunteer therapy animal-handler team. You may then apply this supervised experience towards your future work with a registered animal. Because of liability and safety considerations, the Applied Practice class will only be offered in person in Pocatello, as your instructor cannot effectively maximize safety in human-animal interactions via distance technology.

What will I earn through this class?

After satisfactorily completing all 9 credits, you will have acquired the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attitude to begin the practice of AAI-C under supervision. Supervision resources and options will be discussed at length in the Best Practices course.

For more information about these courses, please email Dr. Leslie Stewart directly at, or find us on Facebook or ISU Department of Counseling Facebook.

Information on the current ACA AAT-C Competencies can be found at:



If you're not a current student in our program, that’s perfectly OK! We are happy to welcome graduate-level students or graduates in counseling or related fields from other programs. To do this, please enroll in ISU as a non-degree seeking student, which is typically a straightforward and expedited experience. To apply, go to Graduate School applications.

Once you have done this, we can absolutely walk you through the registration process as much as you need. The ISU registrar is a good resource for questions regarding fees; and the ISU scholarship office is a good resource for potential sources of financial support.

Thank you for taking the time to explore our certificate program, and I look forward to the possibility of working with you!


Dr. Leslie Stewart, Ph.D., LPC


Register for Summer 2020 Courses after February 10, 2020 - Introduction to Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling, Best Practices in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling, and Applied Practice in Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling.

AAI Handout 2020


Service Animals and the ADA

FAQ About Service Animals

Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in every­day life. Dogs can be trained to perform many important tasks to assist people with disabili­ties, such as providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, preventing a child with autism from wandering away, or alert­ing a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind.

The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Ameri­cans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to service animals. The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a “no pets” policy gener­ally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. This publication pro­vides guidance on the ADA’s service animal provisions and should be read in conjunction with the publication ADA Revised Requirements: Service Animals.


Animal Staff

Students enrolled in the AAI-C certificate program as well as students enrolled in general masters and doctoral level counseling courses will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from several well socialized and suitable animal members of the ISU Counseling Department, including:

Sophie May, the German Shepherd

Star Sapphire, the Farm Collie/English Shepherd

Killer T. Bunny, the Lionhead Rabbit

Saki, the Chinchilla Rabbit

Xena, the Yellow Enchi Ball Python

Each member of the animal staff offers a unique perspective and experiential learning opportunity for counselors and counselor educators in training. Although students are never required to interact with animals, all of the individual animals described above are frequently incorporated into everyday operations in the counseling department. The animals described above were specially prepared (and continuously supported) to thrive in an academic environment and possess suitable temperaments for counselor education settings.