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.
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.
The Psychology and Counseling Faculty members work one-on-one with students as faculty advisors throughout the semester, as well as facilitating group studies, teaching workshops at residency, and acting as second readers to students’ final projects. Our faculty is comprised of national and international scholar practitioners with extensive experience supporting students taking charge of their learning. Faculty members’ work with students is focused, clear, and rigorous.
Twice a year, at the start of each semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency at the College’s Plainfield, Vermont campus. Residencies are a rich time of exploration, connection, and planning.
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor and course mentor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor and course mentors.