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Animal Assisted Therapy


Animal-Assisted Therapy and the Healing Power of Pets

Deirdre Rand, PhD

CE Credit: 3 Hours

Target Audience: Psychology CE | Counseling CE | Social Work CE | Occupational Therapy CEUs | Marriage & Family Therapy CE | School Psychology CE

Learning Level: Introductory

Course Type: Online

Course Abstract

Animal-Assisted Therapy and the Healing Power of Pets is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that includes the story of Dr. Deirdre Rand’s journey with her animal companions and the lessons learned from the challenges and rewards of those relationships. Also discussed are temperament, socialization and training; the role of the neurohormone oxytocin in strengthening the human-companion animal bond; the founding of the three major organizations which register volunteer handler/therapy teams, along with the contributions of key historic figures in developing animal-assisted therapy as we know it today; examples of animal-assisted interventions with dogs, cats and other animals; and attributes of a great therapy animal and a great handler.

"Animal-Assisted Therapy and the Healing Power of Pets provides an essential foundation to anyone interested in animal assisted intervention work, whether as a healthcare professional or as a volunteer therapy animal team with their dog or cat. Dr. Rand uses a narrative writing style, supplemented with photographs, to give the reader a deeper, more experiential understanding of the material and makes for a good read. The course includes numerous clinical examples, evoking an awareness of the unique bond between people and their companion animals."
- Endorsement by Aubrey H. Fine, EdD, author of Our Faithful Companions: Exploring the Essence of our Kinship with Animals.

Growing Scientific Support for the Effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Interventions - The Lathom Letter

Closeout Course #30-85 | 2016 | 45 pages | 26 posttest questions

Learning Objectives

1. Distinguish between a dog’s temperament and factors over which humans have more control
2. List three research-based benefits of human-animal interactions
3. Identify key historic figures who fought for the widespread recognition of AAT as we know it today
4. Utilize animal stories and metaphors to enhance rapport, insight, and behavior change in psychotherapy
5. Identify at least four attributes of a great therapy animal and a great therapy handler
6. Distinguish between “Animal-Assisted Therapy” and "Animal-Assisted Activities"

AOTA Approved Provider

Professional Development Resources is an AOTA Approved Provider of professional development. Course provider ID# 3159. This distance learning-independent course is offered at 0.3 CEUs, introductory level, OT service delivery. The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Arizona Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners; the Florida Board of Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635) (all courses are reported within two business days of completion). Participant successfully completed the required assessment component for this activity.


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of this course involves passing an online test (80% required, 3 chances to take) and we ask that you also complete a brief course evaluation. Click here to learn more.

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About the Author(s)

Deirdre Rand, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice in Mill Valley, California. She is best known for her work in the field of parent alienation in divorce and helped create the Family Bridges Workshop for repairing severely damaged parent-child relationships.

Deirdre first began utilizing a canine assistant in her therapy practice in the 1970s, when she and her husband received an Australian Cattle Dog puppy as a gift from Dr. Aline Kidd and the Reverend Robert Kidd, who presided over their wedding.

Cattle Dogs have been part of Deirdre's life ever since. Most of these were rescues with temperament and socialization issues which could be challenging.

In 2009, Deirdre and her husband adopted a dog named Bella, who was the most challenging of all. Bella had a sweetness about her, and a rare aesthetic gift, but her behavioral issues were too much for Deirdre and her husband to manage on their own. Under the guidance of a professional dog trainer, Deirdre learned how to work with Bella and her bond with Bella grew. Ultimately, it was this experience with Bella which inspired Deirdre to make animal-assisted therapy and the healing power of pets an important part of her work.


Financial: Deirdre receives royalty payments from Professional Development Resources on sales of her courses.
: No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.  

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