Gain Practitioner Certification as an Animal-Assisted Therapist, Animal-Assisted Educator or Animal-Assisted Activities Coordinator by completing Australia’s first Certificate in Animal-Assisted Interactions (Canine)*.
This flexible, self-paced programme includes Masterclass (practicum) an additional 25 hours of home-study, online exam, and 9 months of supervised practice as Step Five in Certification
(STEP FIVE in Certification)
Mode: Self paced online study plus work placement
Pre-requisites: Certification as an Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team
Duration: Approx. 12 months (in total, including steps One to Four)
Access: You must enrol via the online application form below
Are you working well with your dog during interactions, but wanting further guidance on treatment planning, curriculum integration or other professional level guidance? This course is STEP FIVE in our Certification programme providing graduates with Practitioner Certification in Animal Assisted Therapy, Animal Assisted Education or Animal Assisted Activity Coordination, in line with your other professional qualifications.
* Please note: There are no CAI courses in Australia accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). This course is therefore not a Nationally Recognised Training Course or VET course under Australian law.
This course is Step Five in Certification. It comprises 25 hours of home-study, online exam, and 9 months of supervised practice (work placement). Supervised practice can begin as soon as the team have completed the Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification, however the majority of practice hours must occur after the team have completed the Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification. The Advanced Team must also attend at least one discipline specific Masterclass practicum.
In its entirity, the Certificate in AAI (Canine)* comprises successful completion of:
- Step One – Provisional Handler Certification (Canine)
- Step Two – Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification
- Step Three – Advanced course preparation and theory
- Step Four – Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Certification, and
- Step Five – Masterclass (practicum), home-study and exam, and 9 months of supervised practice (work placement).
Certified Practitioners are expected to successfully integrate their CAI practice with their primary training and occupation including:
- Development of discipline specific CAI skills and knowledge via attendance at Masterclass and professional supervision
- Engagement in reflective CAI practice under the guidance of an approved supervisor
- Intervention planning relevant to your profession, such as development of successful treatment or curriculum plans
- Development and delivery of appropriate interactions to effectively achieve client/treatment/educational goals
- Successful partnership with your therapy dog, demonstrating a strong collaborative working alliance and a depth of understanding about the value of your dog as a true partner in the work
Supervised practice requirements
In order to complete the supervised practice requirements, participants must be able to secure workplace experience. This will most commonly be achieved via the participant’s current workplace, but can also be achieved by offering visiting services to organisations. Participants will be provided with the contact details of approved supervisors, and may select a supervisor who meets their needs and preferences. Supervision can be completed on-line where necessary. There may be some variability in the fees or charges for each individual supervisor.
Supervised practice may begin once the team has successfully achieved Certification as a Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team. At the foundational level, supervised practice comprises:
- A minimum of 36 hours supervised practice completed over a period of at least 3 months (3 hours per week of direct delivery of interventions/client contact).
- Interactions need not be discipline-specific, and may include informal visiting; however, there is an expectation that the practice is relevant to the practitioner’s future work goals, for example similar populations or settings.
- A minimum of 3 hours of supervision during the practice period. Supervision will focus on safe interactions, managing the Visiting Therapy Dog’s behaviour and welfare; engaging clients; establishing appropriate procedures, insurances, or equipment; and appropriate professional practices.
- One session can be delivered via group supervision, and the remaining two must be individual supervision.
The majority of supervised practice must occur once the team has successfully achieved Certification as an Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team. At the advanced level, supervised practice comprises:
- A minimum of 192 hours of supervised practice completed over a period of at least 6 months (8 hours per week of direct delivery of interventions/client contact).
- The work practice must be discipline-specific, and relevant to the practitioner’s area of practice, i.e. therapy, education or activities.
- A minimum of 6 hours of supervision during the practice period. Supervision will focus on enhancing the working partnership; development of treatment, curriculum or activity plans; managing complex settings; and application of the NB-AAI model (taught in our Advanced courses) and other theoretical models and concepts to client or student presentations.
- Up to three of the supervision sessions can be delivered via group supervision, and the remaining three must be individual supervision.
Completion of a discipline-specific Masterclass should ideally occur during this period, however the Masterclass can be completed at a later date if required.
Ongoing professional development
To maintain Certification as a Practitioner, all graduates are required to attend 12 hours every 2 years ongoing professional development (PD) in animal assisted interactions relevant to their workplace and profession. Approved activities include courses, conferences, masterclasses, training or supervision. Ongoing maintenance or classes in canine obedience and manners (whilst important and necessary) do not count towards PD hours, however specialist canine training may be sufficient if directly related to work practices. Practitioners must demonstrate how the chosen training contributes to their effective work as an animal assisted practitioner.
If the Certified Practitioner no longer has a Certified Therapy Dog with whom they are working, they are able to work in the diamond model with other handler-dog teams. Practitioners are not certified to work with other species of animal, and should seek out additional training and supervision in this domain if required.
If the Certified Practitioner wishes to maintain their therapy dog’s Certification, annual recertification of the dog and handler team (or group) must be completed, a proportion of which may be counted towards ongoing professional development requirements. Practitioners with Certified Therapy Dogs will have their dog’s details included in their Practitioner listing on the Lead The Way Institute Directory.
Home study and exam
After having completed all practicums (including Advanced Certification and Masterclass) and towards the end of their supervised practice, the participant should prepare for the final exam. The exam is broken into modules, with readings provided for each. The exam is ‘open book’ and participants don’t have to complete it in one sitting. The exam will assess the participants knowledge of:
- Revision of foundational knowledge and skills
- Revision of advanced knowledge and skills
- Additional professional readings (supplied)
Participants should aim to complete the exam within the final month of their course. Access is granted by contacting the course coordinator. Access remains open for a period of 20 days.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL)
Participants who have previously Certified with us may be able to count some previous work or supervision hours towards their supervised practice requirements (at the relevant level, i.e. foundational or advanced).
There is no RPL for the exam
Assessment and Certification
In addition to the successful completion of the exam, approved supervisors will be required to attest to the team’s competency in the provision of CAI within the scope of their professional practice.
- In its entirety, the Certificate Course and Practitioner Certification are ideal for those people who, regardless of their existing qualifications, would like to deliver CAI at a professional level.
- Practitioners are certified in Animal Assisted Therapy, Animal Assisted Education or Animal Assisted Activities in accordance with their existing qualifications and training. Please see Practitioner Certification below for more information
Graduates of the Certificate in Animal-Assisted Interactions (Canine)* will become Certified Practitioners in either animal assisted therapy, animal assisted education, or animal assisted activities, depending on their existing qualifications. Successful completion of the Certificate program does not make the graduate a registered mental health practitioner or educator, and graduates of the Certificate program will only be certified to work within their existing scope of practice. Existing qualifications will be listed on the Certified Practitioner’s Directory listing, and certificate; For example, Certified Practitioner in Animal Assisted Therapy (Psychologist) or Certified Practitioner in Animal Assisted Therapy (General Medical Practitioner) or Certified Practitioner in Animal Assisted Education (Secondary Teaching) or Certified Practitioner in Animal Assisted Activities Co-ordination (Youth Work)
* Please note: There are no AAI courses in Australia accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). This course is therefore not a Nationally Recognised Training Course or VET course under Australian law.
Certified Animal Assisted Therapist
Handlers must meet the following criteria for Certification as Practitioner in animal assisted therapy;
- Registration with AHPRA as a regulated health or allied health professional under Australian law, or
- Hold full (clinical) membership to a professional body (e.g. AASW, ACA, PACFA etc.) that outlines all of the following
- Minimum standards for education & training
- Ongoing professional development, and
- Ethical and professional codes of conduct
Certified Animal Assisted Educator
Handlers must meet the following criteria for Certification as a Practitioner in animal assisted education:
- Registration as a teacher with the relevant state or territory authority, or
- Teaching or educational qualifications, plus a demonstrated commitment to ethical and professional conduct, ongoing professional development, and employment in one of the following areas;
- Working as a qualified TAFE or Vocational teacher
- Working as a qualified tertiary lecturer or tutor
- Working as a qualified primary or secondary teacher or tutor
- Using teaching qualifications to deliver education programs in schools or community organisations
Certified Animal Assisted Activities Coordinator
Handlers who do not meet the criteria for Certification as a therapist or educator will be certified as a Practitioner in animal assisted activities coordination. These handlers can work independently in a range of settings, delivering interventions focused on recreation, wellbeing, or engagement. Alternatively, animal assisted activities coordinators can work in collaboration with therapists or educators to provide specialised interventions.