Live Training Programs

Level 1 & Level 2

training courses in AAPT

In-Person Trainings

We offer workshops around the world to become trained in AAPT. Our two signature training programs are AAPT Level 1 and AAPT Level 2. See below for information about both courses, along with the schedule and locations of trainings around the world and how to register. Our workshops have a unique and acclaimed focus on therapistanimal relationships & animal well-being, use of humor and play to enhance top-notch integrative therapy, and lots of hands-on skill-building experiences taught by highly experienced instructors!

The International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy® is the only authorized provider of workshops on Animal Assisted Play Therapy® in the world.

Level 1 Animal Assisted Play Therapy®: Theory, Research, & Practice

Only fully certified instructors under the auspices of the independent AAPT Certification Board are authorized to offer this program, and the lead instructors on the chart are fully certified. The Level 1 program as developed by Dr. Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson is the same at all locations.

2024 Level 1 Workshops USA, UK, and AUSTRALIA

DateLocationLead Instructor/Host
March 7-10, 2024
SOLD OUT
Rockwall, TexasTeri Holamon
(Inquiries via info@teriholamon.com
April 7-10, 2024
SOLD OUT
Lowick, Northumberland UKTracie Faa-Thompson, Lucy Llewellyn, and Sheli Brown
(Inquiries via aaptbaseuk@mail.com
May 14-17, 2024
SOLD OUT
Fremont, MichiganDr. Mary Rottier
(Inquiries via pawsitivecc@gmail.com or www.pawsforhealing.com)
May 19-22, 2024
SOLD OUT
Boiling Springs, PennsylvaniaDr. Risë VanFleet
(Inquiries info@iiaapt.org)
July 28-31, 2024Lowick, Northumberland UKTracie Faa-Thompson, Lucy Llewellyn, and Sheli Brown
(Inquiries via aaptbaseuk@mail.com
July 25-28, 2024
SOLD OUT
Canby, OregonDr. Risë VanFleet
(Inquiries info@iiaapt.org)
September 11-14, 2024Statesboro, GeorgiaDr. Mary Rottier
(Inquiries via pawsitivecc@gmail.com or www.pawsforhealing.com)
September 17-20, 2024Mt. Carmel, IllinoisCyndie Kieffer
(Inquiries sit.stay.heal@hotmail.com)
October 24-27, 2024
SOLD OUT
Boiling Springs, PennsylvaniaDr. Risë VanFleet
(Please contact info@iiaapt.org to be placed on the waiting list for this offering.)
November 7-10, 2024Rockwall, TexasTeri Holamon
(Inquiries via info@teriholamon.com
November 12-15, 2024Catani, AustraliaDr. Mary Rottier
(Inquiries via pawsitivecc@gmail.com or www.pawsforhealing.com)

Join us for this fun, exciting, and cutting-edge workshop that provides empathy, empowerment, and reciprocity to humans and animals alike!

Why This Workshop?
Who Should Attend
Course Description
Learning Objectives
Prerequisites
Before You Attend
Logistics
Things to Know
Continuing Education
earn CE credits
Fees
and Policies

Why THIS workshop?

Because of our unique and acclaimed focus on therapistanimal relationships & animal well-being, use of humor and play to enhance top-notch integrative therapy, and lots of hands-on skill-building experiences taught by highly experienced instructors!! Plus, it is the first big step toward full certification.

The International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy® is the only authorized provider of workshops on Animal Assisted Play Therapy® in the world.

Who Should Attend

This training program is designed for play therapists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, family therapists, school counselors, and other experienced mental health, medical, allied health, and educational professionals. The training is relevant to a wide range of clinical, developmental, and educational problems for clients throughout the lifespan. Canine and equine professionals interested in the topic are also welcome to attend. This workshop is an intermediate-level experience in how to conduct AAPT effectively and ethically.

Sorry, Humans Only!

This training is for people only. Dogs and horses will be present and available for demonstration and practice segments. The Level 2 training held later features Risë VanFleet and provides opportunities to work with participants’ own dogs, and equine clinics featuring Tracie Faa- Thompson continue participants’ development of Equine Assisted Play Therapy™ skills.

AAPT Level 1 Course Description

This training is designed for mental health, allied health, and education professionals who wish to learn about the exciting field of Animal Assisted Play Therapy®. Properly selected and prepared animals are incorporated into therapy sessions for clients of all ages, while the power of humor and play is harnessed to create a safe environment for therapeutic change. The 2 online courses and the 4-day in-person hands-on workshop that comprise this course provide 52 hours of detailed instruction on topics such as human-animal interactions, ethology/animal behavior, animal assisted therapy, research, natural environments, and the full integration of animal-assisted therapy with play therapy to address a wide range of client challenges. The program emphasizes a relationship-based approach. The Level 1 course focuses on dogs and horses with information about other species included since AAPT principles and practices apply across species. AAPT can be applied from virtually any theoretical orientation, as well as integrative models of intervention.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to…

  • Define at least 5 key concepts in the AAI field, including AAPT
  • Describe at least 4 of the values that undergird the AAPT approach
  • Explain all of the guiding principles for the practice of AAPT
  • Describe the 5 major therapeutic goal areas that are typically addressed with AAPT for clients of all ages
  • Identify at least 2 sources of information about the selection of dogs for AAPT work
  • Demonstrate the skills for observing and interpreting animal body language fluently, especially dogs and horses
  • Identify at least 4 aspects of environmental context that can impact interpretation of animal behavior that might occur during a therapy session
  • Explain the importance and skills for using humane, animal-friendly methods of training • Describe the rationale for and the critical importance of building healthy reciprocal relationships with therapy animals
  • Give at least 3 examples of reciprocity in human-animal relationships in AAPT
  • Explain the role of playfulness & humor in therapy with clients of all ages and with a wide range of problems
  • Demonstrate how to build play, lightness, & emotional safety into the interactions between clients and animals
  • Identify at least 5 body language signals in dogs in real time in a video playing at regular speed
  • Identify at least 3 body language signals in horses in real time observations
  • Discuss the goodness-of-fit approach used in AAPT as a humane way of including animals in play therapy and other forms of psychotherapy/counseling/intervention/education
  • List the 3 requirements in AAPT of ever dressing up an animal
  • List 2 reasons why painting horses in therapy is not a good idea
  • Explain what is meant by “expect the unexpected” when working with animals in therapy, and how one accomplishes that
  • Demonstrate the provision of effective treatment while reducing risks
  • Design a new AAPT intervention that fully considers the needs of the client, the animal, and the environment
  • Describe how to apply AAPT in at least 4 different settings or formats, including individual, group, and family
  • Explain how AAPT can be conducted in an integrated manner with at least 3 different theoretical orientations in play therapy or other forms of therapy

Emphasis is on the use of client-animal play/humor interactions for therapeutic benefit. Many specific AAPT interventions are covered, including nondirective and directive play therapy, as well as AAPT approaches with varying degrees of structure. Participants learn how to conduct therapy in a manner that enhances the achievement of goals while ensuring the well-being of the animals involved. Considerable attention is paid to the human and animal preparatory phases of involving animals in professional work, as well as on the selection, facilitation, and processing of therapeutic material within AAPT for a full range of client ages and problem areas.

The workshop is very hands-on. The online courses provide background that is then applied in a practical manner during the in-person training. Video and live demonstrations as well as experiential portions are followed by skills-practice components with encouraging feedback from the training leaders. It is expected that most participants will develop competence and confidence during the workshop and will be ready to implement AAPT with an appropriate animal partner at the end of the training. Supervision for further skill development is strongly encouraged and discussed. The workshop gives participants a chance to explore this exciting field and learn how to develop, implement, and research their own programs. Ideas for working collaboratively with animal professionals are included. The workshop is limited to 10-20 participants, depending on location and the need for pandemic mitigation/social distancing.

Prerequisites

In general, participants should have prior experience conducting therapy as well as some familiarity with both nondirective (child-centered) and directive play therapy approaches. They should be familiar with basic behaviorism and learning theory, attachment theory, and family systems. Allied health and education professionals should have prior experience working in their fields. If you have questions about the prerequisites, please contact Dr. VanFleet at rise@risevanfleet.com. Those without a strong play therapy background, or canine/equine/other professionals interested in attending, are asked to read the book, Child-Centered Play Therapy (VanFleet, Sywulak, & Sniscak, 2010, Guilford) prior to the in-person training, and Dr. VanFleet or other course instructors can discuss your unique background and what is needed with you.

Please note that the Child-Centered Play Therapy book is coauthored by one of the cofounders and head instructor of the AAPT Level 1 course, Dr. Risë VanFleet. It can be purchased directly from her at a discount (shared author discount) of $37, although it can be purchased from other outlets as well. This is not a requirement but suggested for those who have no significant background in nondirective play therapy.

Online Courses

Two Prerequisite Online Courses are included in the registration fee and must be completed prior to the in-person training. Together the online courses are eligible for 24 additional continuing education (CE) credits. The courses are Introduction to AAPT and Canine Communication for AAPT. The powerpoints, written articles, and video links are all included in the overall registration fee for this Level 1 training.

Please note: In addition, there are 2 books and a CD that serve as “texts” for the online courses that must be purchased separately. (The online courses are part of the overall fee, but these materials are not as many people already have them.) One book and the CD are available as downloads from their respective authors, and information about these are sent with registration confirmations. The other book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy, is coauthored by the Level 1 course creators and instructors, Dr. Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson, and is the only existing book on the topic. It is also the 2018 Maxwell Award winner as the best book written on the human-animal bond (Dog Writers Association of America). Covering this material in advance reduces lecture time and allows for more hands-on skill building during the in-person workshop. The AAPT book may be purchased from most countries from risevanfleet.com/shop (in the UK aaptbaseuk@mail.com; in Australia 4busypaws.com.au) and other outlets.

The total additional cost for the 3 items is $86 USD. Information about accessing the online courses is sent to you after you register, and more information is available via www.risevanfleet.com/online-courses. The two online courses take approximately 24 hours to complete and must be completed 3 weeks prior to the live training to be eligible to attend the live training. (Cancellation policies apply if the online courses are not completed.)

Special Needs

We are committed to making workshops accessible to everyone. Please contact us as early in the process as possible if you have special needs. Training is generally held in a country environment with contact with dogs, horses, and other animals.

Schedule

The training runs daily from 9:00 am to 5:45 pm, with a 5:00 pm dismissal on the last day. There are 28 actual contact hours in the in-person training, and the online courses include 24 hours of instruction, for a total of 52 CE credits/clock hours for the entire program.

Venue

Detailed venue and other information will be sent to participants after they have registered. The livetraining will be held in a rural environment with dogs and horses present.

Dress

The training will involve work with dogs and horses in a rural environment, including outdoors. Please dress comfortably with this in mind. Rain gear and footwear for muddy areas are also advised. Closed-toed shoes are mandatory for the equine segments.

Continuing Education Credits

The Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The FEAPT Center maintains responsibility for this program and its contents. The Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (5732) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The FEAPT Center solely is responsible for all aspects of the program. It is also an Association for Play Therapy (APT) Approved Provider 95-014. This program has been approved by a number of state social work boards (please contact us for this info). 52 total continuing education credits/clock hours will be awarded to participants who attend the entire training (24 for the online courses and 28 for the live training). Partial credit cannot be given. No exceptions can be made to this policy. Please contact us re. various canine and equine credits, which are often available.

Fees – Discounted Package

This training package includes registration fees for 2 online courses and the 4-day live AAPT Level 1 workshop (52 CE credits total). 2 textbooks and a CD for the online courses are separate. All amounts are listed in U.S. dollars. Currency conversions are made automatically when you register. We regret that installment payments are not possible.

Early Bird Fee: $1200 USD [£980 GBP] (fully paid 4 months prior)
Regular Fee: $1350 USD [£1103GBP] (pd w/in 4 months of workshop start)

An additional $86 is required for the 2 texts and CD that are part of the online courses if you do not already have them. The online course fees are included in the overall workshop fees, however.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Fees include 4 days of training (28 hours), extensive handout, 2 online courses (24 hours), morning and afternoon snacks and beverages. Lunches/dinners are on your own.

Cancellation Policy:

$285 (£233) is nonrefundable. Written cancellations received 4 months prior to the start of the workshop will receive a full refund of the balance of the fees. Cancellations after the 4-month point will forfeit a total of $435 (£356), with the remainder being refunded. This strict policy is due to the limited seating in this workshop.

We regret that NO refunds can be given in the final month preceding the workshop. When someone from the waiting list can substitute, credit toward future trainings may be given. [Failure to complete the prerequisites on time is considered a cancellation in the final month.] We urge you to consider purchasing insurance to protect against unforeseen events.

In the very unlikely event that the workshop must be completely cancelled by the organizers, the International Institute for Animal Assisted PlayTherapy® or its assigns will provide a full refund of the registration fees. Participants will be responsible for their own travel fees, another reason to consider purchasing travel insurance that covers this. During the pandemic period or other public health or disaster emergencies, rescheduling might become necessary depending on CDC recommendations, as well as country, state, or local public health/emergency management recommendations and restrictions designed to ensure participant health and wellbeing. In that case, the cancellation policy above will apply to the rescheduled dates.

Level 2 Animal Assisted Play Therapy®: Relationships & Applications

Please Note: All must have completed the AAPT Level 1 training and approximately 12 hours (2 blocks) of AAPT supervision prior to attending the Level 2! Only fully certified instructors under the auspices of the independent AAPT Certification Board are authorized to offer this program, and the lead instructors on the chart are fully certified. The Level 1 program as developed by Dr. Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson is the same at all locations.

2024 Level 2 Workshops USA, UK, and AUSTRALIA

DateLocationTrainer(s)
June 4-7, 2024Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania USARisë VanFleet, PhD
(Inquiries info@iiaapt.org)
November 13-16, 2024Rockwall, TX USARisë VanFleet, PhD
(Inquiries info@iiaapt.org)
Who Should Attend
Humans and Dogs!
Course Description
Learning Objectives
Prerequisites
Human and Dog!
Logistics
Things to Know
Continuing Education
earn CE credits
Fees
and Policies

Who Should Attend?

This training program is designed for play therapists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, family therapists, school counselors, and other experienced mental health, medical, allied health, and educational professionals. The training is relevant to a wide range of clinical, developmental, and educational problems for clients throughout the lifespan. Canine and equine professionals interested in the topic are also welcome to attend. This is an advanced-level training. All must have completed the AAPT Level 1 training and 8 supervision sessions prior to attending the Level 2!

AAPT Level 2 Course Description

This workshop offers a second-level, more advanced training in Animal Assisted Play Therapy®. Dog interactive sessions with your own dog will occur in segments throughout the workshop, with resting periods for the dogs at other times. Lectures, videos, discussions, and planning sessions will occur between the dog training segments. Equine components are included as well. Role-plays of play sessions will include your own dogs or a demo dog, as well as some options with horses.

Participants will build on their dog handling skills relevant to therapy work, as well as learn how to (a) develop a strong and mutual relationship with their dogs, (b) train their dogs for play therapy work using positive methods, (c) plan, train, and implement a variety of dog tricks or games for play therapy, (d) facilitate nondirective and directive play therapy sessions with dogs and/or horses, (e) debrief groups or families after AAPT activities, (f) develop effective risk-management policies, (g) read and react to canine and equine signaling as it occurs during play sessions, (h) link AAPT interventions with therapeutic goals, (i) promote the use of AAPT, and (j) resolve common difficulties in the professional practice of AAPT.  The workshop will also provide ample opportunity for participants to discuss their progress and obstacles in the use of AAPT to date and to resolve common problems. This workshop is designed to be flexible, with the needs of participants in mind. Please let your needs be known so that we can plan workshop time around them!!

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to…

  • List and identify in real time at least 10 different canine body language signals that suggest stress in a dog.
  • Explain and demonstrate the 3 levels of observation required to interpret animal body language as accurately as possible.
  • Describe at least 3 activities one can perform with a dog to identify personality features that are relevant to selection of dogs for Animal Assisted Play Therapy® (AAPT).
  • Explain the primary reason why high arousal coupled with poor recovery is likely to make an animal unsuitable for AAPT. 
  • Describe at least 3 activities or interactions a therapist can do to build a stronger relationship and working alliance with a dog.
  • Identify the primary 4-6 steps involved in teaching an animal a new behavior using shaping.
  • Describe 2 actions a therapist can take immediately during a session if they see a dog with whale eye, hackles up, tail high and wagging tightly, mouth closed, and with a stance leaning toward the client.
  • Describe two ear positions on a horse and what they likely mean in terms of the animal’s emotional state.
  • Describe how to use the 3-second rule (consent testing) during a session to help a client build a healthy, respectful relationship with the therapy animal.
  • Explain what is meant about being proactive with a therapy animal and give 2 reasons why that is important for animal welfare and risk management during therapy.
  • Describe and conduct at least 3 new AAPT-relevant interventions with an animal.
  • Explain a 3-step process for developing new interventions in AAPT that are relevant to client goals. 
  • Describe what is meant by “split-attention” in AAPT and how the therapist develops this skill.
  • Describe 2 reasons why countertransference is particularly relevant in AAPT.
  • Describe at least 3 items needed within risk-management policies for an AAPT program.
  • Describe at least 2 different ways a therapist might facilitate and process client material during AAPT.
  • Describe the full debriefing process used with families and groups in AAPT.
  • List at least 5 different dynamic issues that therapists might discuss during a debriefing with a group or family after an AAPT session.
  • Describe 2 options a therapist has if a client tries to harm an animal during an AAPT session.
  • Write treatment goals that clearly show the link between the AAPT intervention selected and the client’s needs.
  • Describe and conduct an AAPT session that is relatively unstructured and one that is highly structured.
  • Explain the importance of all the demonstrated competencies required for AAPT certification.
  • Explain at least 2 ways a therapist can establish a safe zone for an animal involved in AAPT where the client is not permitted to go if the animal goes there.
  • Give a definition of “scope of practice” as it relates to AAPT, and provide 2 reasons why it is very important.
  • Explain 1 way in which the voluntary participation of animals in AAPT has clinical significance for the clients.
  • Describe what is meant by animal agency and give 2 reasons why it is important – 1 reason for the animal and 1 reason for the client.

Prerequisites

Participants must first have attended the four-day Animal Assisted Play Therapy Level 1 Training and have completed two online courses – (1) Essentials of Canine Behavior & Training and (2) AAPT Ethics & Animal Welfare (included in fees, although purchase of the textbooks is separate. Access to online courses provided after registration.). You will need the book Animal Assisted Play Therapy (VanFleet & Faa-Thompson, 2017, Professional Resource Press) which you should have read in full for the Level 1. For this course, you will re-read selected portions of the same book. Please note that approximately 8 supervision sessions must be completed prior to attendance at the Level 2 as well, and at least 4 short session videos should have been shown during this supervision!
Summary:

  1.  Completion of Level 1
  2. ~8 AAPT supervision sessions including 4 video segments shown
  3. Essentials of Canine Behavior & Training online course (completed 3 weeks prior)
  4. AAPT Ethics & Animal Welfare online course (completed 3 weeks prior)

Dogs must be trained with positive, dog-friendly methods and be well-behaved, non-reactive around other dogs, and socialized well with a variety of people, dogs, and situations.  Completion of the CGC or C.L.A.S.S. or similar “good behavior” credential encouraged but not required. Please discuss any questions or problems with Dr. VanFleet at the time you register. You will be asked to complete a checklist of dog behavior and submit videos of your dog. 

Special Needs

We are committed to making workshops accessible to everyone. Please contact us if you have special needs as early in the process as possible. Workshops are generally held in a country environment with contact with dogs, horses, and other animals.

Schedule

The training runs daily from 9:00 am to 5:45 pm, with a slightly earlier dismissal on the last day. There are 28 actual training hours, and the online courses provide 16 CE credits/clock hours, for a total of 44 hours for the entire program. 

Dress

The training will involve work with dogs and horses in a rural environment, including outdoors.  Please dress comfortably with this in mind.  Rain gear and footwear for muddy areas are also advised. Closed-toed shoes are mandatory for the equine segments. Dog equipment/harnesses should conform with the types covered in Level 1.   

Continuing Education Credits

The Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The FEAPT Center maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.  The Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (5732) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.  The FEAPT Center solely is responsible for all aspects of the program. It is also an Association for Play Therapy (APT) Approved Provider 95-014.  This program has been approved by a number of state social work boards (please contact us for this info).  44 continuing education credits/clock hours will be awarded to participants who attend the entire training (28 for the 4-day live training and 16 for the online courses).  Partial credit cannot be given.  No exceptions can be made to this policy. 

Fees – Discounted Package

Package includes registration fees for 44 educational hours: 2 online courses (16 total CE credits) and the 4-day live AAPT Level 2 workshop (28 CE credits). 2 textbooks for the online courses are separate. All amounts are listed in U.S. dollars. Currency conversions are made automatically when you register. We regret that installment payments are not possible.

Early Bird Fee: $1365 USD (fully paid 3months prior)
Regular Fee: $1535 USD (pd w/in 3 months of workshop start)

Registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. Fees include 4 days of training, PowerPoint handout, 2 online courses, morning and afternoon snacks and beverages. Lunches/dinners are on your own.

Cancellation Policy:

$300 is nonrefundable. Written cancellations received 3 months prior to the start of the workshop will receive a full refund of the balance of the fees.  Cancellations after the 3-month point will forfeit a total of $485, with the remainder being refunded. This strict policy is necessary due to the limited seating in this workshop.

We regret that NO refunds can be given in the final month preceding the workshop. When someone from the waiting list can substitute, credit toward future trainings may be given. [Failure to complete the prerequisites is considered a cancellation in the final month.]  We urge you to consider purchasing insurance to protect against unforeseen events.

During the pandemic period or other public health or disaster emergencies, rescheduling might become necessary depending on CDC recommendations, as well as country, state, or local public health/emergency management recommendations and restrictions designed to ensure participant health and well-being. In that case, the cancellation policy above will apply to the rescheduled dates. (continued next page)

In the very unlikely event that the workshop is cancelled entirely by the IIAAPT or its assigns (those hosting it), the International Institute for AAPT (or its assigns if they cancel it) will provide a full refund of the registration fees minus the costs of any materials or portions of the workshop already provided. Participants will be responsible for their own travel fees, another reason to consider purchasing travel insurance. 

Equine Workshops

Not Horsing Around: Reciprocal Relationships for Daily Life & Therapy with Equines
&
Scentwork for Horses:
A New Tool to Enrich Human-Equine Relationships

Both are ideal for all those interested in horse-human relationships, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning, Equine Assisted Play Therapy®, and for Equine Behaviourists and Trainers!

3 SPECIAL DAYS ON EQUINES!

 

2023 UK Dates will be announced soon.