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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate

About the certificate program

The Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate is the first of its kind in the nation. It explores the therapeutic use of animals in many types of social work practice—a new and exciting aspect of the field.

By earning this certificate, you'll learn how to create, implement and evaluate AASW programs in which an animal becomes a teacher, therapist, facilitator and companion. You'll learn how to choose the most appropriate animals for particular therapies, and how to care for the animals in accordance with nationally recognized standards.

You'll also understand how to identify, assess and intervene in "link" violence—the frequent connection between animal-abuse and violence toward people.

The AASW certificate adds specialized courses to the MSW curriculum and includes a field internship offering opportunities for AASW practice.

Service, Field and Experiential Learning

AASW students have the opportunity to examine critical human, animal and environmental connections in numerous established internships and research projects domestically and around the world. Here are some examples:

  • Interested in exploring how animals change lives, transform trauma and improve the welfare of children, adults and families? Train a professional therapy dog during graduate school. Build your clinical social work skills to incorporate pets and other animals into the therapeutic environment. Create an animal-assisted intervention protocol to integrate into your professional practice.
  • Wondering how human behavior influences habitat protection for animals such as the giant panda? Find out by studying biodiversity protection issues while doing an internship at the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu, China.
  • Concerned about illegal wildlife trade and wild animal protection and advocacy? Participate in anti-poaching work while on assignment with our partner's at Africa Network for Animal Welfare.
  • Interested in helping individuals and communities develop their capacity for caring for one another, animals, and the environment? Become a humane educator and explore how high-quality spay/neuter programs and effective re-homing offer opportunities to reduce community violence in eastern Europe.
  • Developing ideas every day of how you can make a difference in the lives of people, animals and the environment?  Join our MSW program and consider the AASW program- this could be the graduate program you've been searching for.

Learn More

For more information, contact Clinical Professor Philip Tedeschi, LCSW, AASW certificate program coordinator.