Essentials of Animal Assisted Interventions

Carroll University is thrilled to offer the non-credit Essentials of Animal Assisted Interventions credential. This interdisciplinary course is designed for a widerange of professionals such as healthcare workers, social workers and education and counseling professionals. As this field grows, Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) have been successfully integrated into many health and human service fields including Physical and Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Health, Education, Nursing and more. Throughout the course, Carroll's strong Animal Behavior team will lead students through critical, evidence-based practices emphasizing animal welfare and behavior, as well as professional theory in AAI across multiple professions. Participants in this credential will gain critical knowledge in the safe, legal, and beneficial use of AAI.

Fields where animal-assisted interventions can be applied include, but are not limited to:

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • ​Behavioral Health
  • Other Health & Human Services
  • ​Education
  • Counseling
This program is approved for CEUS by WOTA for Occupational Therapists and APTA for Physical Therapists.

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Credential Information

Learning Outcomes

Students who earn the digital badge will be able to: 
  1. Define terms associated with the use of animals in service to humans, including Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Animals and explain the legal implications of those terms
  2. Recognize and interpret the cognitive, emotional and communicative capacity of nonhuman animals as it relates to training and welfare in AAI
  3. Describe or define the unique relationships and roles between therapy animals and humans including AAI handlers, professionals and clients
  4. Describe the relevance of Animal-Assisted Interventions in today’s health care, mental health, educational, and other settings through a critique of demonstrations and evidence-based material.
  5. Recognize the suitability of live therapy animal candidates through objective assessment of key behaviors and temperament. Assess live AAI activities for efficacy, safety, handler and animal skill, and 'client' engagement. 

Why a credential?

Carroll University's credentials are non-credit bearing opportunities that are designed to be flexible and respond to learners' needs. Upon completion of the Essentials of Animal Assisted Interventions module, you will receive a digital badge. These are issued to you digitally, and can be shared with employers, colleagues, and across social media platforms.

Program Details

The Fall 2023 course runs October 1st to December 16th. The program is primarily asynchronous and online, with two lab dates. Typically the labs require in-person participation, however the fall program offers the option of virtual lab attendance.

Approximate time commitment is 17 hours. 

Lab Dates:

  • November 11, 2023
  • December 9, 2023

Program Cost

Registration for this credential is $500 for practicing professionals. Current Carroll University students are eligible for a discounted rate of $300. If you are a current Carroll student and would like to register, please contact for your discount code.

About the Facilitator

Laura Hey

Laura Hey is a Certified Animal-Assisted Intervention Specialist with a long career as an occupational therapist, primarily in neuro rehab. She has expertise in the field of Animal-Assisted Interventions and has established therapy animal programs for a wide variety of healthcare, mental health, and community organizations in SE Wisconsin. Laura created Wisconsin’s first program in which specially trained therapy dogs and handlers worked alongside therapists to help patients meet their rehabilitation goals. The results were profound and led her to found Health Heelers, Inc. in 2005. Fascinated by the rich cognitive and emotional lives of animals, Laura has participated in over five-hundred hours of classes, seminars, and workshops by some of the most renowned positive-reinforcement trainers in the world. She  has consulted for local universities in the development of therapy animal curriculum and is active in standardizing the field of Animal-Assisted Interventions on an international level. Laura also trains therapy animals, their handlers, and professionals in AAI and is an adjunct instructor in Carroll University’s Animal Behavior Program. At home, Laura enjoys the everyday blessings of a life surrounded by nature, one very big dog, and numerous cats.

More Information

Media Coverage

WUWM: Animal behavior program at Carroll University hands out dogs and life lessons
CBS-58: Carroll University students foster seven HAWS dogs during third annual animal behavior program
Fox-6: HAWS foster dog graduation held at Carroll University


Please email with any questions.

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