Animal Assisted Interventions In Counseling (AAI-C)
Certificate In Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI-C) In Counseling
Dear Potential Future AAI Professional,
I'm thrilled that you are interested in our program! Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Leslie Stewart, PhD, LCPC (Idaho), LPC (Georgia), and I am the curriculum developer and primary instructor for all three courses in the Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling (AAI-C) Certificate Program.
The Idaho State University AAI-C curriculum was thoughtfully and intentionally developed in the spirit of current best practices and in collaboration with international leaders in animal assisted interventions. Each class offers a balance of theoretical knowledge and applied skills, with a heavy emphasis on provider competence, animal welfare/advocacy, and practical efficacy. Within the three course sequence, students gain in-depth theoretical knowledge of AAI history and literature, industry standards and culture, professional issues, and live practice opportunities under supervision. The curriculum is applicable to a wide variety of animal species, and students may enjoy opportunities to interact with dogs, horses, rabbits, and reptiles during their time in our program. Students are also provided with structured opportunities to gain in-depth, species-specific knowledge about the species of animal that he/she wishes to work with in the future. Each course in this series was painstakingly reviewed and subsequently endorsed by several international leaders in the AAI community, and your instructor continuously engages in updating course content to reflect current standards and continuously invites peer consultation and feedback on all aspects of the curriculum. Guest experts are a regular presence during class meetings so that students are exposed to a variety of expert perspectives and introduced to industry leaders beyond your instructor.
About the Instructor
I am an internationally established scholar, practitioner, and consultant in the realm of Animal Assisted Interventions, with over 20 years of experience in facilitating Human-Animal Interactions, including 11 years as a professional counselor and 5 years as a counselor educator. Before beginning my career in counseling and counselor education, I provided therapeutic riding lessons as a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Certified instructor. I have experience working with both minors and adults with equines, dogs, rabbits, and reptile species. My research agendas and clinical specialties include animal assisted interventions in counseling and supervision, trauma-informed counseling and counselor preparation, crisis and disaster response and animal-assisted crisis response (AACR), and counselor training with experiential and expressive modalities. I facilitate AAIs in counseling, supervision, and counselor education in addition to fulfilling multiple national and international AAI service and organizational leadership roles. I have published empirical and conceptual works related to AAIs within the ACA family of journals and interdisciplinary journals, and delivered over 70 professional presentations relevant to AAIs. I am the primary author of the American Counseling Association’s Competencies for Animal Assisted Therapy, Pet Partner Tiered Model of Provider Competencies, and a contributor to the Animal Assisted Interventions International (AAII) Standards of Practice for Animal Assisted Therapy.
About the Curriculum
The ISU AAI-C curriculum was thoughtfully and intentionally developed in the spirit of current best practices and in collaboration with international leaders in animal assisted interventions. Each class offers a balance of theoretical knowledge and applied skills, with a heavy emphasis on provider competence, animal welfare/advocacy, and practical efficacy. Within the three course sequence, students gain in-depth theoretical knowledge of AAI history and literature, industry standards and culture, professional issues, and live practice opportunities under supervision. The curriculum is applicable to a wide variety of animal species, and students may enjoy opportunities to interact with dogs, horses, rabbits, and reptiles during their time in our program. Students are also provided with structured opportunities to gain in-depth, species-specific knowledge about the species of animal that he/she wishes to work with in the future. Each course in this series was painstakingly reviewed and subsequently endorsed by several international leaders in the AAI community, and your instructor continuously engages in updating course content to reflect current standards and continuously invites peer consultation and feedback on all aspects of the curriculum. Guest experts are a regular presence during class meetings so that students are exposed to a variety of expert perspectives and introduced to industry leaders beyond your instructor.
- 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.
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?
1. The courses will be offered only in the summer, typically between late May and late June. All coursework is finished by the beginning of July. Exact course dates and times are determined on a year-by-year basis, and every effort is made to accommodate the unique needs of each cohort.
- The first course (Intro to AAI-C) will be offered asynchronously online only in late May. This course spans 2 weeks.
- The second course (Best Practices in AAI-C) will be offered in person AND via synchronous Zoom video conference in early June. This course spans 2 weeks.
- The third and final course (Applied Practice in AAI-C) will be offered in person only in an intensive 10 day workshop format, dates typically in mid-late June. You must satisfactorily complete both prerequisite courses to be eligible for the third course.
What if I’m not a Counselor/Counseling Student?
We welcome students and professionals from a variety of healthcare and human service professions, as well as from the education professions. While some aspects of AAIs are specific to the professional discipline, the core concepts are applicable to most helping and education professions. For example, in past cohorts, we welcomed students from psychology, social work, speech-language pathology, nursing, rehabilitation sciences, occupational therapy, professional educators, among others. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.
What if I’m not an ISU student?
If you're not a current student in our program, that’s perfectly OK! We are happy to welcome graduate-level students in counseling or related fields from other programs. We also welcome practicing and/or retired counselors
a. If you are not a current ISU student, you’ll need to apply to ISU as a non-degree seeking student. After you obtain your Bengal ID, you will apply for this certificate program. We can absolutely walk you through the registration process as much as you need. The registrar is a good resource for questions regarding fees; and the scholarship office is a good resource for potential sources of financial support.
What if I’m not in Pocatello, Idaho?
We understand that students and professionals from a variety of locations in the U.S. and overseas are interested in Animal Assisted Interventions and wish to acquire quality education and training. We are happy to accommodate national/international audiences to the best of our ability. The first two courses in this curriculum are designed to offer distance-friendly formats so that students may choose to attend remotely. For out-of-town students in the Applied Practice in AAI class, we often work on an individual basis with each student to secure travel and find affordable accommodations
How much do these classes cost?
The tuition for these courses is determined by the university. For the 2020-2021 academic year, graduate tuition is approximately $505 per credit hour. The scholarship office is a great resource for potential sources of financial support.
Can I bring/work with my own animal?
During the third class (Applied Practice in AAI-C), you will learn how to get appropriately registered as a therapy team with your current or future animal. If you are able, I encourage you to use your registration to begin volunteer AAA visits in the community to gain experience as an animal handler.
- However, because I cannot effectively evaluate and advocate for animals unfamiliar to me, you will not be permitted to bring your own animal to class. Instead, you will be allowed to practice under live supervision (with me in the room) with an experienced therapy animal. Then, you will hopefully apply this experience towards your future work with your own registered animal.
- Because of liability and safety considerations, the Applied Practice class will only be offered in person in Pocatello, as I cannot effectively maximize safety in human-animal interactions via distance technology.
Thank you again for your interest in our AAI-C curriculum, and I hope you’ll decide to join us! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns not already addressed in this FAQ sheet.
Leslie Stewart, Ph.D., LCPC
Associate Professor of Counseling
Idaho State University
Zoom Meeting ID 4454291259
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 2021 Courses after February 10, 2021 - Introduction to Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling, Best Practices in Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling, and Applied Practice in Animal Assisted Interventions in Counseling.
Service Animals and the ADA
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.
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.