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Institute for Human-Animal Connection

Institute for Human-Animal Connection

Education and Programs

The Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) and University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work offer a broad range of educational opportunities and programming in the field of human-animal interaction studies.

Canine-assisted intervention specialist certificate - NEW!

The Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist (CAIS) Certificate is a professional development program specifically designed for animal-assisted intervention professionals seeking to improve their knowledge of and skill with canines. The program is competency-based and integrates a wide variety of current best practices from experts around the globe. CAIS utilizes a hybrid educational model: an interactive weekend in Denver, CO, three online courses, and fieldwork with multiple canines in your city.

For more details, please visit our dedicated Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate Program website.


Animals & Human Health (AHH) Certificate

The Animals and Human Health certificate program is a continuing professional development program consisting of three online courses and a two-day capstone session on the University of Denver campus. Topics include animal-assisted interactions, interventions and education, as well as animal welfare and ethics.

A course entitled, "Orientation to Animal-Assisted Interventions" is also available as an introduction to the field and optional precursor to the AHH certificate program.

The AHH program has enrolled students with a multitude of professional backgrounds from around the globe since 2006.

"The Animals and Human Health Certificate program at IHAC affirmed what I had known, but did not have the vocabulary to articulate. I learned about the exquisite empathy of the healing power of animals. I gained sensitivity to how Animal Assisted Therapy is managed and presented...The IHAC program and professors truly changed the course of my professional life!" Cynthia Daniel, AHH Certificate Recipient 2011

Equine-Assisted Mental Health Practitioner Certificate

The Equine-Assisted Mental Health (EAMH) Practitioner Certificate is a post-masters certificate program for mental health professionals wanting to add equine-assisted work as a treatment strategy to their psychotherapy or counseling practice. The program balances theory with hands-on client work and satisfies the need for education, training and supervision necessary for ethical practice. The certificate program is also open to graduate students in mental health-related masters or doctoral programs and is accessible to international participants.

Raising Compassionate Kids: Humane Education & Interventions for Early Learners Certificate

The Humane Education & Interventions for Early Learners professional development certificate program of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver focuses on building skills in humane education for caregivers and teachers of children ages 2-8.

It includes three online courses and one residential course filled with learning about the variety of experiential learning strategies and opportunities along the Front Range, from Erie, CO to Larkspur, CO!

Animal Assisted Social Work (AASW) Certificate

The AASW Certificate is only offered to students completing their Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. Topics include animal-assisted therapeutic interventions, animal welfare and various methods for including animals in social work practice. The AASW certificate adds three specialized courses to the MSW curriculum and includes a field internship offering opportunities for AASW practice.



Part of IHAC's vision is to stop and prevent cruelty to humans and animals across the globe.

The following anti-cruelty initiatives are currently managed by IHAC:

  • Colorado LINK Project
    The Colorado LINK Project provides information and resources to community members and professionals in Colorado. The "LINK" refers to the connection between violence towards humans and violence towards animals. IHAC affiliates specialize in the correlation between animal cruelty and family violence, child maltreatment, elder abuse and other public health and public safety concerns.
  • Humane Education
    Humane Education principles teach kindness and respect for humans, animals and the environment.


One Health is an emerging concept in which various disciplines work collaboratively across micro- and macro- systems to attain improved health and resiliency for people, animals and the environment. The One Health triad establishes the inextricable connection between people, animals, and the environment by understanding and addressing the health issues created at this intersection. The conceptual models of One Health and sustainable development have become major foundations and focus for the programs offered by IHAC and University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work.


IHAC representatives are available for private consultation and speaking engagement for your practice, program or organization. Contact us for more information.