New Human Animal Interaction Studies Concentration in Psychology Program

Melissa Trevathan-Minnis, animal-assisted therapy

The Goddard College Psychology Program is proud to announce a new concentration in Human Animal Interaction Studies.

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) have grown exponentially in popularity in recent years. Animal-assisted therapists work as professionals and volunteers in a variety of settings, treating issues such as relationship conflict, depression, and trauma, with children, adults, and aging populations.

Animal-Assisted Activities are recreational, social or support experiences, and other activities with the direct inclusion of animals, while Animal-Assisted Therapy involves humans and animals with a specific focus on therapeutic interventions. The relational power between humans and animals is incredibly strong, and, in many cases, healing.

“An important aspect of this concentration is the intentionality around honoring the human-animal bond. One difference we see among animal-assisted therapy programs is that some view the animal as a tool while others view the animals as a partner in the work. This latter view is emphasized in our program and aligns quite well with other relationally-based models of therapy. Our program prides itself on graduating responsible, aware, and conscientious students who are willing and eager to make positive change in the world,” said faculty lead Dr. Melissa Trevathan-Minnis.

Few academic programs offer students the opportunity to learn animal-assisted therapy or practices while learning how to be an effective human helper. The Human Animal Interaction Studies Concentration allows students the ability to specialize in AAT while working toward their counseling MA degree and professional licensure without adding additional time to their studies.

The concentration also allows students to earn credit for concurrent participation in certification programs through other organizations, such as the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association or Pet Partners.

“The Human and Animal Interaction Concentration is an asset to the Psychology and Counseling Program. It will have a positive impact on our students and their potential clients,” said Dr. Tracy O. Garrett, Acting Chair of the Psychology and Counseling Program.

To learn more visit the Human Animal Interaction Studies Concentration page.