Our relationships with animals and the natural world possess great healing potential when intentionally addressed. The animals and human health (AHH) professional development certificate focuses on animal-assisted therapy, activities and learning, which require that those delivering interventions have the expertise necessary to attend to the needs of the people and the animals involved.

You’ll develop skill and expertise regarding the practical applications of human-animal interactions and understand how the effects of these methods can be demonstrated across age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and life condition. You will also learn how animal-assisted interventions can be incorporated in practice by a range of professionals and how to create and implement high-quality human-animal-environment interaction programs.

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550

Approximately 550 students from six continents have completed the AHH certificate.

13

Enrollment is capped at 13 students per cohort for a high-quality learning environment.

35

The certificate earns 35 continuing education units documented on a University of Denver transcript.

Therapy rat and human hand

About Animal-Assisted Interventions

Professional animal-assisted interventions demonstrate how the human-animal bond can create lasting social, emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual and psychological changes. Animal-assisted therapy, activities and learning are found in many settings. For example:

  • As part of his physical therapy, a man recovering from a stroke regains the use of his arm by playing “fetch” with a specially screened and trained dog.
  • An at-risk teen refuses traditional therapy but begins to explore personal issues with a therapist who integrates equine-assisted mental health applications in their practice.
  • A child who is a victim of sexual abuse learns to trust and connect with people by first learning to trust and connect with an animal.
  • A student with a learning difference feels excited and hopeful about school because of a new animal-assisted education program.
Woman with therapy dog and man in wheelchair

A Program for Working Professionals

The animals and human health certificate enhances the practice of  professionals from a variety of career fields—from counselors to teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, police officers, veterinarians and more—by providing the education needed to incorporate animals into their work. With the certificate, you can enhance your current career by incorporating the value, benefits and opportunities of the human-animal bond.

Although many of our students work in the mental health field and are integrating or planning to integrate animal-assisted therapy into their practice, this program does not teach you how to be a therapist (a graduate degree from an accredited program is typically needed to practice in the mental health field). If you are looking for a career change into mental health treatment and animal-assisted interventions, consider pairing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and the Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.

“This program gave me the tools, knowledge and confidence to be able to deliver an ethical animal-assisted intervention service at Southampton Children's Hospital in the UK that everyone enjoys—two legged and four!” 

Lyndsey Uglow, Alumni, Animals & Human Health ’16
AHH Alumni Lyndsey Uglow

Program Format

Our curriculum is designed to meet various needs and interests. As a student, you will choose two animal species to focus on and the client population and setting you want to serve. As you research animal-assisted programs that are similar to the type of work you intend to do, you’ll learn what is currently happening in your field and extrapolate the best practices needed to develop and lead a successful program.  

The certificate includes three online courses and one course taught on the University of Denver campus*. You’ll progress through the three required online courses in sequence with a peer cohort, then meet face-to-face in Denver for the Capstone session*. Courses include readings, written assignments, community/experiential activities, videos and discussion forums. You may complete coursework at your pace within specified due dates. Experiential activities are incorporated into each course and will require you to work in the community, away from the computer. As you move through the program, your instructors will offer guidance, individualized weekly feedback and participate in online discussion forums.

*Due to COVID-19, the Capstone sessions for all upcoming Animals and Human Health cohorts will either take place in a fully virtual format or in a hybrid model, where participants can choose to attend in-person or virtually via Zoom. 

Upcoming Program Dates

 

2022 Cohort 1

2022 Cohort 2

2022 Cohort 3

2022 Cohort 4

Animals & Human Health Core Course (online)

Jan 17 - March 14, 2022

March 28 - May 23, 2022

June 6 - Aug. 1, 2022

Sept. 12 - Nov. 7, 2022

Applications of Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)

April 4 - May 16, 2022

June 13 - July 25, 2022

Aug. 22 - Oct. 3, 2022

Jan. 9 - Feb. 21, 2023

Animal Partners in Animal-Assisted Interventions Course (online)

June 6 - July 18, 2022

August 15 - Sept 26, 2022

Oct. 24 - Dec. 5, 2022

March 13 - April 24, 2023

Capstone Course (online)

August 18 - 19, 2021

October 26 - 27, 2022

Jan. 12 - 13, 2023

May 25 - 26, 2023

 

 

Learn more about costs and application requirements for the Animals and Human Health Certificate.

Costs & Requirements

Application Information

Student with Sheep

Capstone Session

Your capstone will tie the program together by asking you to create a full animal-assisted intervention program proposal, which you’ll virtually present to your instructors and peers. You'll gain the experience of presenting your program in a formal and concise manner, as well as feedback from your peers and instructors. Students also develop an online portfolio of their major assignments in the program along for easy referral. This course is where everyone's unique experience, background, and future goals shine. 

Many alumni of Animals and Human Health have taken their completed program proposal and implemented it in their organization or community!

Certificate Faculty and Staff

 
Adam Clark

Adam Clark

Adjunct Faculty

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Betty Jean Curran

Betty Jean Curran

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Molly DePrekel

Molly DePrekel

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Arielle Giddens

Arielle Giddens

Program Manager, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Maureen Huang

Maureen Huang

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Sherly Pierre

Sheryl Pierre

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Heather Pugh

Heather Pugh

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Jennifer VonLintel

Jennifer VonLintel

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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AHH Alumni Stories

Woman with horse
Career Transformation and Animal-Assisted Interventions

Leah wanted a career change that included working with horses and dogs. She became a Life Coach and completed the Animals and Human Health Certificate through the Institute for Human-Animal Connection. The program helped Leah start her own business and integrate animals in an ethical and responsible manner while helping others.

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IHAC Alumna Belen Ibanez
Animal-Assisted Therapy in Bolivia

After completing IHACs Animals and Human Health (AHH) certificate, María Belén Ibáñez Justiniano established EQOVOLARE, Bolivia's first officially registered animal-assisted therapy center. 

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Woman smiling kneeling next to Charles the therapy dog.
Animal-Assisted Therapy in Child Welfare

Rachel Pletcher completed Animals and Human Health in 2018 which has allowed her to develop and implement an animal-assisted therapy program for her child welfare organization.

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