AAPT Virtual Conference 2023

Back by Popular Demand…

The 3rd Annual


Sponsored by the Animal Assisted Play Therapy® Collective and the International Institute for AAPT®

February 20-21, 2023



On February 21-22 (Monday-Tuesday), we will hold our third annual Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ conference! It will be held online, with 6 presentations each day for a total of 12 contact hours. The full schedule is in this flyer.

Presentations will be prerecorded, although the presenters will be available live for the question-and-answer periods immediately following their presentations. If you register for the conference, you will have access to the presentations afterwards as well. 

All workshop presenters are Certified Therapists, Supervisors, and Instructors in AAPT or those who are nearing those certifications. They will share their experiences and approaches using AAPT with a variety of species and client goal areas. This year, presenters join us from the UK and throughout the USA. AAPT research will also be featured.

AAPT emphasizes relationships and animal well-being throughout the therapy process. The workshops are designed to show AAPT in practical terms. Most will feature a 40-minute presentation and videos, along with a short discussion period. 

The types of presentations offered this year include multiple clinical applications, ethics and welfare, research, different species, puppy socialization to canine retirement, and the importance of relationship in AAPT.

An outline of the schedule with workshop titles and presenters is followed by more detailed information about each in this flyer. If you need continuing education credits, please be sure to read our CE statement. CE is available only for those who register for it (an additional fee), complete an assessment, submit a satisfaction survey, and attend the full conference. Learning objectives are listed at the end. 

Access to recordings of the presentations will be made available to those who register for the conference prior to February 19.



Times are listed in U.S. Eastern Standard Time (same as New York City). Google “time zone conversion” to see the times in your location. In general, subtract 3 hours for Pacific Time USA; add 5 hours for the UK times, and add 6 hours for much of Europe. We are sorry that this is not good timing for the far eastern countries, Australia, and New Zealand. The conference recordings will be available afterwards to all who sign up in advance. The conference features an international faculty (shown in parentheses with bios later in the flyer).

20 February 2023
10:00–10:15amWelcome, Announcements, Orientation
10:15–11:15 KEYNOTE: From Page to Paw: The Science in Animal Assisted Play Therapy™. Canine Ethics & Values. (Kirsty MacQueen)
11:15–12:05Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ and Autism: A Winning Combination (Lisa Mink McGowan)
12:05–12:55pmRabbits and Animal Assisted Play Therapy™: Practical Considerations and Case Study
 (Rikki Ford)
1:05–1:55Research Exploring Interactions Between Children, Dogs, and Handlers in School Settings (Dr. Helen Lewis & Dr. Janet Oostendorp)

1:55–2:45Another Perspective on AAPT with Clients on the Autism Spectrum (Jill Robinson)
2:45–3:45Equine Assisted Play Therapy™: Strengthening Healthy Attachment Relationships
 (Tracie Faa-Thompson, Co-Founder of AAPT)
21 February 2023
10:00–10:15amAnnouncements, Explanation of Continuing Education Process
10:15–11:15KEYNOTE: The Importance of Building a Partnership in Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ (Diane Dioguardi)
11:15–12:05Anxiety Buster: Cognitive Behavioral Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ (Erin Olheiser)
12:05–12:55pmWoof/Woof Pronouns: A Randomized Controlled Trial of AAPT Groups for Transgender Youth (Dr. Katharine Wenocur & Erica Smith)
1:05–1:55Puppy Socialization and Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ (Dr. Mary Rottier) 

1:55–2:45Equine Assisted Play Therapy™: Preparation of Horses (Ann Elliot)

2:45–3:45When Therapy Animals Grow Old: Retirement, Animal Agency, & Anticipatory Grief
 (Dr. Risë VanFleet, CoFounder of AAPT)

The presentations are described in greater detail on the pages that follow, and other important info follows.

Who Should Attend

This conference is designed for play therapists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, family therapists, school counselors, and other experienced mental health, medical, allied health, and education professionals. The conference is relevant to a wide range of clinical, developmental, and educational problems for clients or students throughout the lifespan. Canine, equine, and other animal professionals interested in the topic are also welcome to attend. This conference does not require prior knowledge of Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ and is suitable for those at all levels of Animal Assisted Interventions, from beginner through advanced.

Past Conference Evaluations

In our first two years offering this online conference, we had approximately 250 people registered and attending each one. Attendees represented 40 countries each year. The average rating of the conference quality overall was 4.8 out of a possible 5.0 (where 4.0 is very good and 5.0 is excellent). Many commented on the range of topics, the quality of the speakers, and the depth of the material shared as being some of the best they had seen anywhere. We are very grateful for everyone’s attendance, this feedback, and some of the suggestions they shared that we hope to incorporate this year!

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. This conference will be conducted entirely online via the Zoom platform.

Continuing Education Information

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 as some states have unique restrictions).  12 total continuing education credits/clock hours will be awarded to participants who attend the entire conference and complete the necessary assessments (there is a separate fee for this, available at the time you register).  CE recipients must attend the entire conference as partial credit cannot be given.  No exceptions can be made to this policy.  Please contact rise@risevanfleet.com with any questions.

Fees and Cancellation Policy

This conference is sold as a complete package with continuing education fees paid separately based on whether or not you need them. (Please be sure to sign up for the CE fees at the time you register, however, as they will not be available afterward.).
The fees are listed below:

Early Bird Fee:  $65 USD (paid registration through February 4, 2023)
Regular Fee: $80 USD (registration paid February 4 – March 19)

CE Fee: $25 USD (optional. includes all Continuing Education processing, access to CE assessments. CE document provided within 3 weeks of conference)


Because this is an online conference including prerecorded elements, registration fees cannot be refunded. Please contact Dr. Risë VanFleet at rise@risevanfleet.com if you miss one of the presentations. In the very unlikely event that this conference is cancelled entirely by the sponsors, a full refund will be given.


Conference Description

This conference is designed to familiarize attendees to many of the facets of Animal Assisted Play Therapy™, a multimodal, transdisciplinary intervention with wide applicability to assist clients and students in reaching their clinical, medical, or educational goals. It is a theoretically integrative approach that focuses on healthy, reciprocal, mutually-beneficial relationships at its core. It also highlights the importance of animal welfare and well-being, and one of its requirements is that the animals must actually enjoy, not merely tolerate the interactions. AAPT can be used with clients of all ages, families, and groups. A variety of different species can be involved. There is a growing body of research that shows the value of AAPT as well. Join us for this stimulating and informative virtual conference! 

See Workshop Descriptions & Presenter Bios in Full Conference Brochure

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Risë VanFleet at info@iiaapt.org!

Missed the past Conferences?

Click here to access the 2022 Conference Proceedings.

Click here to access the 2021 Conference Proceedings.