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Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Overview and Experiential Examples

Enroll in the Online Self-Study * Expand your Skill Set * Complete the AAT-I Program

This course is designed to be an overview of the AAT-I program and more! As you review key concepts in the Animal-Assisted Therapy field, watch as professionals work with animals to promote healing and growth through the Human-Animal Bond. Differentiate between Animal-Assisted Activities, Animal-Assisted Interventions, and Animal-Assisted Therapy.

Whether you are currently in the AAT field or it is completely new to you, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your role (or potential role) in the AAT field, in addition to the strengths you bring and where you would like to grow. Spend time reflecting on what animal(s) may be best suited to be your co-therapist(s) or how to work with an animal you may already have in mind! Apply all that you have learned to case study examples so that you can demonstrate how to match AAT interventions with your clients’ needs.

Your instructor, Dr. Christina Strayer,  will provide valuable feedback during your time in this course to help guide you in this exciting and rewarding field. “AAT-I Overview and Experiential Examples” can serve as an introduction to AAT-I as a stand alone course or provide a rich compilation of your experience in other AAT-I courses.

Learning Objectives
CE Hours

Course Instructor

Dr. Melanie Smith Headshot

Dr. Christina Strayer


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.

Earn the Animal-Assisted Therapy-Interventionist Credential

The Animal Assisted Therapy Interventionist Credential (AAT-I) is a distinction awarded to qualified clinicians who have successfully completed the comprehensive AAT-I program. In order to earn the 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 contact Dr. Strayer for details on this event.

AAT course bundle

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The AAT-I program, updated in 2023, is designed for licensed/certified professionals to learn how to utilize Animal-Assisted Interventions ethically and intentionally per the American Counseling Association’s AAT-C Competency Requirements. This program is developed by an instructor with a Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision, as well as a practicing Animal-Assisted Therapist with almost two decades of experience. The program content has been reviewed by an advisory board of relevant professionals (e.g. LPC’s, LCSW’s) to ensure quality and relevance to a breadth of professionals seeking AAT certification and/or CEU’s. Your instructor believes in the evidence-based healing power of the human-animal bond. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA, 2018), “The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both. This includes, but is not limited to, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.” This program teaches you how to be co-therapists in a triadic relationship with animals in a variety of settings to accelerate growth and transformation via the mind, body, spirit connection.