Certified AAPT Instructors

The AAPT Instructor Program was fully implemented in 2019. Individuals earning this certification are already certified at the therapist level. Candidates are selected by invitation only, although anyone may express interest. Recipients of this credential undergo extensive Instructor training that strengthens their skills at teaching other professionals in a positive, effective manner while learning how to deliver the highly demanding Level 1 AAPT Training Program. They then participate in a mentorship in which they help with and then co-lead Level 1 trainings. Once certified, they are qualified to offer the Level 1 AAPT Training Program independently in their own organizations, but they must coordinate this with IIAAPT and other Instructors and also obtain regular continuing education relevant to this work. The AAPT Instructor Certification Manual is available on this website.

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC, CAEBC-I

Author Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC, co-creator of the field of Animal Assisted Play Therapy with Tracie Faa-Thompson, is shown here with Josie Patches, Murrie, and Kirrie.

Dr. Risë VanFleet is a co-founder and director of the International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy®. She is also the President of the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, Inc., in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, an organization specializing in the training and supervision of child, family, and play therapy professionals. She also provides therapy to families and runs the Playful Pooch Program. She is a Licensed Psychologist (PA), Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with 45 years of clinical, supervisory, administrative, and teaching experience. Her specialties include AAPT, Filial Therapy, chronic medical illness in families, disaster mental health, complex trauma and attachment issues. She has trained and supervised thousands of clinicians internationally. She also provides behavior consultation with family dogs, and specializes in highly fearful, traumatized, unsocialized dogs.

Risë is the author of a number of ground-breaking and award-winning books, and she has authored dozens of articles, chapters, and manuals. Books include (but not limited to) Animal Assisted Play Therapy, Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play, Child-Centered Play Therapy, The Human Half of Dog Training: Collaborating with Clients to Get Results, and more. Her materials have been translated into several languages. She is also featured in several video-based online courses and the American Psychological Association's DVD, Filial Play Therapy. She is on the editorial board of two major journals, and is a past president and board chair of the Association for Play Therapy.

Dr. VanFleet has been the recipient of 16 national and international awards, including the PPA's Distinguished Contributions to the Science and Profession of Psychology Award, several awards for her education and training programs such as APT's Play Therapy Professional Education and Training Award, 5 awards (Maxwell Awards and Special Awards from the DWAA) for her writing, and 2 awards for her wildlife photography.

Dr. VanFleet may be contacted at:

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC, CAEBC-I

International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy®

PO Box 613, Boiling Springs, PA 17007

www.iiaapt.org - info@iiaapt.org

Tracie Faa-Thompson, MA, AASW, PGdipNDPT, CAEBC-I

Tracie Faa-Thompson, BA, Social Work; MA, Crim; PG NDPT, Clin Hypno, Cert EAGALA, Certified Animal Ethology and Behavior Consultant-Instructor, and Certified Filial Therapist and Instructor is also a cofounder of AAPT. She is a specialist social worker in adoption working with traumatised children and their adoptive and foster families in the UK. She is a British Association of Play Therapists Qualified Play Therapist who uses a mix of individual play therapy, Filial Therapy, and group filial methods. Tracie is also a practice teacher of social work students and a trainer in Life Story Work and attachment theory. As a clinical hypnotherapist, Tracie incorporates Eye Movement Integration with Emotional Freedom Technique as an effective approach to trauma. She has conducted training programs for professionals on attachment and resilience, life story work, sibling contact in adoption, introductions of adoptive families and children, Filial Therapy, and AAPT.

Hailing from a Scottish/Romany Traveller family, Tracie has grown up with dogs and horses as integral to her native culture. Tracie is a member of the Classical Riding Club and the founder of Turn About Pegasus, an equine-assisted programme for at-risk youth and also for families with a variety of difficulties. She is EAGALA approved for both mental health and equine specialist roles. She is the founder, and for over 20 years, the Chairman of her local Riding for the Disabled Centre until its recent amalgamation with another purpose-built centre.

Tracie is coauthor of the internationally acclaimed book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy, and author and coauthor of dozens of chapters, articles, and training manuals. She regular conducts AAPT work with all ages as part of her Turn About Pegasus program and conducts training in AAPT throughout the world. Tracie has a lifetime of experience of living and working with dogs and horses and over 30 years of working with vulnerable children and families.

Tracie can be contacted at:



Teri works full time as a crisis counselor for Garland ISD, one of the 70 largest school districts in the nation. She is stationed at a high school of 3,000 students, and is one of a 13-member team of crisis counselors for 71 campuses and over 60,000 students. Before his retirement this year her canine therapy partner, Gibbs Theradoodle®, (a goldendoodle) accompanied her to elementary, middle and high schools for both guidance and crisis interventions. Gibbs worked tirelessly for weeks in the aftermath of a rare, winter F4 tornado that decimated the area the day after Christmas in2015.

Teri also owns her private practice where she counsels children, adolescents, and families with Gibbs and her other two canine assistants, Zoe (a red toy poodle) and Khaleesi (a tuxedo parti poodle). Gibbs and Zoe are both registered therapy dogs with Intermountain Therapy Animals, as well as registered Reading Education Assistance Dogs. Both have worked extensively with elementary children in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area at libraries, bookstores, and other programs. Gibbs was the R.E.A.D.ing dog for a pilot program at Literacy Instruction for Texas, and worked at a center in one of the poorest areas in Dallas to help children and their families learn to read. Gibbs Theradoodle® is well known in the DFW area as he has his own theme song and music video, Facebook page, agent and modeling career. He has done print work for Pier 1 Imports, and was also seen on national television in the Adolphus Children’s Hospital Christmas parade. He and Zoe have both volunteered at Dallas Children’s Hospital.

Teri is an licensed instructor and evaluator for Intermountain Therapy Animals, as well as a licensed instructor for Reading Education Assistance Dogs. She is a Certified Animal Assisted Play Therapist-Supervisor with the IIAAPT.

Teri can be contacted at:




Lucy Llewellyn, CAAPT -S-I, PG NDPT, AASW, NNEB

Registered with Social Work England & British Association of Play Therapists (PSA)

Lucy became a Certified Animal Assisted Play Therapist in 2015. In 2020 she achieved her goals to become an AAPT®️ Instructor and supervisor.

She holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Non-Directive Play Therapy from the University of York, having studied with Dr. Virginia Ryan. Lucy has worked with children and young people for over 30 years since qualifying as a Nursery Nurse (NNEB) in 1981. She went on to study social work and gained the Advanced Award in Social Work in 2001. Lucy is a Certified AutPlay®️Therapist and has also undertaken Advanced Filial Therapy, Level 1 Theraplay and Level 1 Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy trainings.

Lucy has worked within a Child and Adolescent Mental Health team for over 15 years as well as working for Family Service Unit and Sure Start.

She set up “Paws4Play” in 2009 and has worked with her AAPT Approved dog, Lykke, with children who have experienced abuse, neglect and trauma. Lykke is a rescued Lurcher who loves to play.

Lucy is the proud recipient of The Kirrie Award for outstanding contributions and dedication to the field of Animal Assisted Play Therapy®. Lucy attended the very first AAPT training held in the UK, and she has helped in many capacities with subsequent Level 1 and Level 2 workshops held there in more recent years. Lucy is an assistant dog trainer and relief dog walker at Bronte Canine Care. She is based in West Yorkshire, UK.

Contact Lucy at: