The relational power between humans and animals is incredibly strong, and, in many cases, healing.
From a clinical vantage, 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.
Few academic programs offer students the opportunity to learn animal-assisted 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.
A concentration in Human Animal Interaction Studies allows a student interested in pursuing AAT an advantage over other students without this academic focus, and provides a specific niche for in their future work or practice.
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While most students in the Counseling program at Goddard intend to work clinically, some do not. This concentration offers students a clinical and non-clinical track (i.e. Human Animal Interaction Studies-Clinical Track; Human-Animal Interaction Studies-Non-clinical Track).
Students interested in clinical careers could pursue the internship requirement and have the added distinction of the clinical track upon completion of the concentration. The non-clinical option would only change the internship requirement of the concentration and allow students not interested in pursuing clinical work (i.e. research, academic work, advocacy and policy work) the benefit of an academic background in human animal interaction.
The ability for students to complete MA degree requirements in tandem with concentration requirements makes this one of the most cost-effective program available in this field. Other programs require students to complete specific courses at an average cost of $2000-$5000 or more for completion, typically after they have already acquired a graduate degree. The Human Animal Interaction Studies Concentration through Goddard’s Psychology and Counseling program allows students to gain the specialization while completing their Master of Arts degree.
Important to understand is that this concentration is intended to provide a strong academic and theoretical foundation. We create learning opportunities at Goddard while students gain hands-on clinical experience via an external practicum placement. Goddard provides workshops at residencies that support clinical goals and this concentration similarly offer workshops facilitated by concentration sponsors and members of the community to demonstrate hands-on interventions.