International Institute
for Animal Assisted Play Therapy®

Strengthening Relationships with Playful Human-Animal Interactions

Acclaimed Animal Assisted Play Therapy® Book

Winner of the 2018 Maxwell Award.

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Animal Assisted Play Therapy® (AAPT) adds the elements of playfulness, humor, and lightness to the therapeutic process.

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Training & Certification

Learn more and work toward becoming a certified AAPT professional.

Get Trained

Take a Level 1 AAPT In-Person Training.

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Online Courses

Train at your own pace.

Online Courses

Learn about animal-related online courses we currently have available including course descriptions and registration information.

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Supporting the AAPT community throughout the world since 2005.

The International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy (IIAAPT) was founded to provide cutting-edge training, certification, and continuing professional development opportunities for mental health and animal professionals interested in the integration of psychotherapy, play therapy, family therapy, ethology, animal assisted therapy, and animal welfare, or in providing support services to therapists who wish to conduct AAPT. The practice of AAPT requires a complex set of skills for both therapists and the animals who assist them.

The IIAAPT has bases in Pennsylvania, USA and in Northumberland, UK. This site provides information about training programs, online courses, certification, and other resources. It also provides information related to competence in AAPT and its ethical practice.

Registration for the 2024 AAPT Conference is SOLD OUT!

An online course from the proceedings will be available in May.

About AAPT

Animal Assisted Play Therapy® (AAPT) adds the elements of playfulness, humor, and lightness to the therapeutic process, and can be helpful for clients of all ages. It focuses heavily on relationships: how the relationship between therapist and animal must be developed in positive, mutually respectful ways in which the animals have a voice and choice whenever possible.

In Person Training

Learn about our highly acclaimed state-of-the art training programs for professionals, held in several locations internationally every year.

Blog

AAPT related articles, tips and information.

Virtual Conference

Connect and learn with AAPT experts from around the world. Recordings from conferences are available for purchase.

Directory

Find a Certified AAPT Professional.

Important Links

AAPT Level 1 Training Flyer

Our AAPT Level 1 Training.

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AAPT Certification Flyer

Information about AAPT Certification.

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Professional Certification Overview

AAPT Certification Process.

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Therapist/Practitioner Certification

Manual for Therapist/Practitioner Certification.

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Supervisor Certification

Manual for Supervisor Certification.

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Instructor Certification

Manual for Instructor Certification.

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Animal Ethology and Behavior Specialists
 Certification

Manual for Animal Ethology and Behavior Specialists.

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What People Say

Haley Moskella

The IIAAPT is one of a kind and unique. Through my certification process, I appreciated the focus on acquiring the skills I ...

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Haley Moskella
LCSW, RPT, CAAPT

The IIAAPT is one of a kind and unique. Through my certification process, I appreciated the focus on acquiring the skills I need to conduct AAPT effectively and I valued the focus on the animals and their well-being. The pre-requiste course I talk about most is the Canine Communication course, which is a must have for anyone looking to work with animals and people, and is equally beneficial for learning to live harmoniously with dogs. The focus on positive training methods is pertinent in reflecting healthy, positive relationships with clients. The certification process through IIAAPT is thorough and extensive, but worth every penny. I am honored to be a part of such an amazing community with distinguished individuals and their animals.

Haley Moskella
Haley Moskella
LCSW, RPT, CAAPT
Ann Elliot

Once I took the first class I was sold! This program is such a good example of how a good relationship with ...

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Ann Elliot
CPP-AAPT, LCSW, CDVC, CCJS, Nationally Rostered CPT Provider, AutPlay® Therapy Level II Certified, CCBT, EMDR Trained, TF/CBT and Suicide Safer Home Instructor

Once I took the first class I was sold! This program is such a good example of how a good relationship with our animals form the basis and beginning of AAPT! There is so much emphasis and information about animals' communication, their needs, and assuring they have a choice in all activities! I love what I have learned as an animal lover and as a therapist.

Ann Elliot
Ann Elliot
CPP-AAPT, LCSW, CDVC, CCJS, Nationally Rostered CPT Provider, AutPlay® Therapy Level II Certified, CCBT, EMDR Trained, TF/CBT and Suicide Safer Home Instructor
Cyndie Kieffer

As a lifelong learner of all things human-animal bond related; I found the Animal Assisted Play Therapy ® courses to be most beneficial...

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Cyndie Kieffer
LCSW, CPP-AAPT-I, CAS, CCTP

As a lifelong learner of all things human-animal bond related; I found the Animal Assisted Play Therapy® courses to be most beneficial. As the emphasis is on the relationship between the practitioner and the animal working alongside them our clients are given the opportunity of seeing a reciprocal and positive relationship in action. I am a better advocate for the dogs working by my side having taken these courses.

Cyndie Kieffer
Cyndie Kieffer
LCSW, CPP-AAPT-I, CAS, CCTP
Dr. Mary Rottier

The AAPT training and certification program is unlike any other program available in the field. It not only teaches you how to...

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Dr. Mary Rottier
LPC, CAAPT, RPT-S, ICST, Owner & Director, Pawsitive Counseling Center

The AAPT training and certification program is unlike any other program available in the field. It  not only teaches you how to incorporate a variety of different animals into your work (not just canines) but it is also rooted in a solid understanding of animal  welfare, agency, and training. The founders go above and beyond expectation with the material and information presented, as well as with the teaching format. I highly recommend it to anyone interested  in learning more about working with animals in therapeutic settings.

Dr. Mary Rottier
Dr. Mary Rottier
LPC, CAAPT, RPT-S, ICST, Owner & Director, Pawsitive Counseling Center
Emily Boatwright

Following the completion of the IIAAPT certification program, I feel well prepared and confident in my ability to provide Animal Assisted Play...

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Emily Boatwright
LPC-MHSP, ACS, RPT-S, CAAPT, C-DBT, CBCC-KA

Following the completion of the IIAAPT certification program, I feel well prepared and confident in my ability to provide Animal Assisted Play Therapy® services to my clients.  The founders have perfectly married play therapy skills and animal interventions in a way that only someone who has literally “written the book” is able to do.

Emily Boatwright
Emily Boatwright
LPC-MHSP, ACS, RPT-S, CAAPT, C-DBT, CBCC-KA
Ann R. Howie
Professionals in the field of animal-assisted interactions have long sought an experience- and science-based text. This is it. The authors provide comprehensive information across the ...
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Ann R. Howie
LICSW, ACSW, Founder, Human-Animal Solutions, PLLC
Professionals in the field of animal-assisted interactions have long sought an experience- and science-based text. This is it. The authors provide comprehensive information across the treatment spectrum, from choosing an animal through working with that partner to the end of that partner's career. The reader is challenged to look closely at his/her own work. Practicing empathy and respect for animals as well as clients is artfully woven into every chapter. This book needs not only to be on the shelf, but also to be read by every human healthcare professional who works with animals.
Ann R. Howie
Ann R. Howie
LICSW, ACSW, Founder, Human-Animal Solutions, PLLC
Nancy Parish-Plass
Animal Assisted Play Therapy is a rich and valuable resource for both aspiring and experienced AAPT therapists. VanFleet and Faa-Thompson integrate their professionalism...
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Nancy Parish-Plass
Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy
Animal Assisted Play Therapy is a rich and valuable resource for both aspiring and experienced AAPT therapists. VanFleet and Faa-Thompson integrate their professionalism in the area of play therapy, deep acquaintance with dogs and horses, and extensive AAPT experience in a way that brings the reader to a multilevel understanding of the field of AAPT, for all its complexities and opportunities it provides for insight and healing. This book differs from many others in that it recognizes the centrality of the client’s and therapist’s relationships with the animals and their implications for the psychotherapy process. Indeed, the subject of these relationships, together with the subjects of professional training, ethics, and animal welfare, are woven into the chapters throughout the book, showing their critical implications for understanding and implementing AAPT at every level. The authors cover various issues, unique to the field of AAPT, that are imperative for the AAPT therapist to consider. The book also dismantles certain long-standing myths about the field of AAT: AAT is not based on magical process, the animal does not need extensive obedience training, and the animal is not the therapist. The authors of Animal Assisted Play Therapy make an important contribution to the development of AAPT as a serious clinical field.
Nancy Parish-Plass
Nancy Parish-Plass
Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy
Jacqueline George

The letters of Animal Assisted Play TherapyTM also represent...

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Jacqueline George
LCSW, RPT-S, CAAPT-S-I Hope Renewed Counseling Services

The letters of Animal Assisted Play TherapyTM also represent some core principles and goal areas of the field:

Acceptance – of the animal as they are, rather than expecting them to be something they are not

Attachment – healthy attachment and relationship are promoted with fun and playfulness

Process – an outcome is less important than the process, so unexpected events are woven into the session for the benefit of the client and the animal

Training – is completely non-aversive and involves positive, relationship-based methods

These four alone distinguish AAPT as a unique approach to involving animals in therapy and my cats and I are excited to be part of this field of work!

Jacqueline George
Jacqueline George
LCSW, RPT-S, CAAPT-S-I Hope Renewed Counseling Services
Robert Jason Grant
I recall several years ago listening to a podcast on Animal Assisted Play Therapy (AAPT). Risë VanFleet was sharing about this type of treatment...
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Robert Jason Grant
EdD, LPC, RPT-S, CAS, AutPlay® Therapy Clinic
I recall several years ago listening to a podcast on Animal Assisted Play Therapy (AAPT). Risë VanFleet was sharing about this type of treatment and the ways it could be beneficial for children. As I listened to Risë describe the process of AAPT, I remember thinking what an incredible process this could be for so many children in therapy. Fast forward several years and VanFleet and Faa-Thompson have amassed a comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable book about AAPT. Not only does this book present a clear definition of AAPT, it is full of case examples, theoretical understanding, practical implementation, research, and a clear unison of animal assisted therapy and play therapy. It is the definitive guide on AAPT. Practitioners will enjoy reading and learning about AAPT and appreciate the level of thoroughness that the authors have mastered in bringing this much-needed treatment to the forefront of therapeutic options.
Robert Jason Grant
Robert Jason Grant
EdD, LPC, RPT-S, CAS, AutPlay® Therapy Clinic
Cathy Reisfield
In their book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy , Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson have created the definitive and comprehensive resource for anyone involved in...
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Cathy Reisfield
Founder, Dependable Dogs®
In their book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy, Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson have created the definitive and comprehensive resource for anyone involved in the field. This book provides an enjoyable and easy-to-read overview of the core principles and processes of AAPT (Animal Assisted Play Therapy). It also offers in-depth information on the theoretical foundations, history, and considerations for practitioners, including the identification and standards for practitioner competencies, both for therapy/clinical skills and in terms of animal handling and knowledge of animal behavior. By presenting a general outline for those new to the field and also diving deep into specifics, VanFleet and Faa-Thompson have delivered the first must-have book for those involved in AAPT. The book provides valuable information for those just getting started in AAPT or Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) as it identifies training and preparations needed before getting started in this work and first steps and considerations when one begins to involve animals in the therapeutic process. There is also much here for current practitioners who may wish to evaluate an existing program to both assess and improve those programs. Regardless of the reason you pick up this book, from the opening quote (‘Even the expert was once a beginner’) to a discussion of the needs for specific further research and the issue of credentialing, you will gain a better understanding of how all of the elements of AAPT interrelate. The authors share personal stories and case studies to show the importance of mutually respectful relationships as practitioners work in partnership with animals and the development of the AAPT specialty practice area. The authors are credentialed mental health professionals as well as having credentials as play therapists. Their passion for their work, their clients, and their high regard for animals and the roles animals play in all of our lives is very clear. If you have an interest in this field, and wish to, as the authors describe ‘explore fun, exciting, and novel ways to help our clients with these animals with whom we live, work, and play’ this book will expand your knowledge and provide a great ongoing reference source.
Cathy Reisfield
Cathy Reisfield
Founder, Dependable Dogs®

International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy®

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Sharing mutually beneficial human-animal relationships throughout the world with AAPT.

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