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Schedule & Rates

AAC Academy 2024 - Dates & News

person with laptop and dog

The AAC Academy 2024 dates are up! Check out when the AAC Academy trainings will be offered in 2024.

Introduction to AAC is offered online! The online training worked so well in 2020 that we've decided to continue to offer that training in this format. This allows for practitioners who live near and far from Texas State University to participate in the first part of the AAC Academy remotely, without having to reserve a hotel room or travel to San Marcos, TX. Please note that the other two trainings, Intermediate Methods and Practicum in AAC, are both in person trainings, because they involve both the practitioner and their animal partner.  

If you are interested in applying for the next cohort, please check out the Application page for information on when and how to apply.


AAC InstructionLearning ModalityTraining DatesEarly Bird Fee Due DateStudent & Regular Rate Due Date
Introduction to Animal-Assisted CounselingOnlineJune 2, 9, 16 (Father's Day), & 23, 2024 (Sundays), 6:30-8:30p CSTMay 24, 2024May 24, 2024
Intermediate Methods in Animal-Assisted Counseling In personJuly 10-13, 2024, 9:00a-4:00p CST each day May 24, 2024June 28, 2024
AAC Team Evaluation In personJuly 12 & 13, 2024 or August 1, 2023IncludedIncluded
Practicum in Animal-Assisted Counseling In personJuly 31 - August 3, 2024, 9:00a-4:00p CST each dayMay 24, 2024July 26, 2024
AAC Consultation OnlineMonthly online meetings October 2024-March 2025May 24, 2024October 1, 2024

AAC Academy Learning Tracks

We have two additional AAC Academy Learning Tracks for school counselors and practitioners interested in becoming a Registered Play Therapist™. These tracks are optional and are available at no extra cost. 

Animal-Assisted Counseling in Schools

The animal-assisted school counseling (AASC) track is for practitioners who are or plan to become school counselors and would like to use AASC in their schools. This track offers four additional hours of direct training in AASC as part of the Intro to AAC training. Topics covered in this training include:

  • What is AASC?
  • Getting School and District Buy In
  • Choosing an AASC Animal Partner
  • Preparing the School for an Animal Partner
  • AASC Tier 1-3 Interventions
  • Student-Affirming AASC Interventions

The AAC Academy is well-suited to support school counselors in implementing AASC by providing more than 120 hours of training to ensure that school counselors are prepared to prevent liability in school settings and promote positive student-animal interactions. 

Animal-Assisted Counseling in Play Therapy

The animal-assisted play therapy (AAPT) track is for practitioners who are or plan to become a Registered Play Therapist™ (RPT™). This track offers additional training in AAPT that align with the Association for Play Therapy CE requirements. Topics covered in this training include:

  • What is AAPT?
  • Requirements to Become an RPT™
  • Choosing an AAPT Animal Partner
  • Toy Selection
  • Applying Play Therapy Theories to AAPT
  • AAPT Interventions

The AAC Academy is an excellent way to pursue becoming an RPT™ since the training is aligned with play therapy content areas and competencies. The AAC Academy Director, Dr. Hartwig, is a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor and actively presents and conducts research on play therapy topics. Please note that practitioners interested in becoming an RPT™ will need additional play therapy training, experience, and supervision in order to meet all RPT™ requirements.

AAC Academy Rates

Luna getting belly rubs

Choosing to specialize in animal-assisted counseling is a commitment - both financially and time-wise. AAC instruction involves reading, reflection, participation in intensive in-person trainings, at-home skills practice with your animal partner, clinical practice with your animal and volunteer clients, and AAC supervision. The AAC Academy provides a tremendous amount of instruction and support to help you and your therapy partner develop the skills and competence to be an effective counseling team. 

The rates for the AAC Academy are generally less expensive than other AAT programs, which vary between $3,000 to $5,000. Keep in mind that some programs also have hidden costs, such as the cost of supervision or materials. The differences between the AAC Academy and other programs is that the AAC Academy:

  • Provides the instruction and consultation you need to earn a Certification in Animal-Assisted Counseling
  • Aligns with the Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling Competencies, adopted by the American Counseling Association
  • Provides in-person instruction in a university setting
  • Includes hands-on instruction and support for both the practitioner their and animal partner 
  • Involves a team of AAC trainers and volunteers to support practitioner and animal learning of knowledge and skills
  • Provides clinical practice and consultation by an AAC supervisor in a supportive clinic environment
  • Offers professional pictures taken by the university photographer that they can use to promote their counseling practice
  • Includes post-training AAC clinical consultation for teams to enhance and hone their AAC skills while they are working in their own practice settings

Early Bird, Student, and Regular Rates

The AAC Academy encompasses three trainings and consultation. The three trainings are: Intro to AAC (online), Intermediate Methods in AAC (in person with an animal partner), and Practicum in AAC (in person with an animal partner). The fee for each training covers: 

  • A one-month online course (Intro to AAC) or four days of in-person training with your animal partner (Intermediate Methods & Practicum in AAC)
  • Pre-training reading and learning activities on an online course management system
  • 40 CEs per training
  • An AAC Academy binder with handouts
  • A daily parking pass
  • Snacks (meals are on your own)

Practitioners are responsible for purchasing learning materials, such as books. These costs are typically around $50-60 per training. Some materials are provided for free.

Early Bird Rate - Participants can get a discount of $550.00 for the AAC Academy by paying for all three trainings and consultation up front. In order to complete the program, you need to participate in all three trainings, so this is a great option for participants.

Student Rates - Students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program are eligible for the early bird rates, but they have the option to pay at the regular rate due dates. This allows students a "pay as you go" option, rather than having to pay up front.

Regular Rates - Professionals can choose to save money by using the Early Bird option. For a higher fee but more flexibility, professionals can pay for each AAC training and consultation at the regular rate due dates. AAC regular rates are $25.00 per CE for 40 hours of training. Regular rates are a great option for those who would like to pay for one training at a time.

AAC Team Evaluation Fee

Dr. Elizabeth Hartwig and Hepzibah Hoffman-Rogers, CPDT, developed the AAC Team Evaluation. This evaluation assesses skills needed specifically for AAC. Participants will learn and practice AAC evaluation skills in the Intermediate Methods training, and then complete the evaluation after that training. The fee for the AAC Team Evaluation is $75.00 and is included in the Intermediate Methods in AAC rate.

AAC Consultation

The AAC Academy provides 30 hours of AAC consultation. In the Practicum in AAC training, participants receive 4 hours of live consultation and 16 hours of individual and group consultation, for a total of 20 hours of consultation. This consultation is included in the cost of the Practicum in AAC training. Ten (10) hours of post-training consultation is a requirement for AAC certification. Post-training consultation provides practitioners with ongoing support as they begin using AAC in their schools, agencies, or practices. Consultation is scheduled on a monthly basis and is provided in a HIPAA-compliant online format.

Training Rates

TrainingEarly Bird & Student Rate Professional Rate
Introduction to Animal-Assisted Counseling $ 900.00 $ 1,000.00
Intermediate Methods in Animal-Assisted Counseling $ 975.00 $ 1,075.00
AAC Team EvaluationIncludedIncluded
Practicum in Animal-Assisted Counseling $ 900.00 $ 1,000.00
AAC Consultation $ 750.00 $ 1,000.00
Total $ 3,525.00 $ 4,075.00

Scholarships and Financial Considerations

The AAC Academy does not have a scholarship option at this time. Many practitioners who have attended the program have found ways to get financial support for the program. One option is to ask your employer, such as a school district, agency, or group practice, to pay the full rate or a portion of the rate. Since you are offering to provide AAC in these settings, your school, agency, or practice can benefit from you getting this training. They will have a certified AAC team with extensive training at their campus, agency, or practice. There is a host of studies that describe the benefits of therapy animals for both clients and staff. It is worth asking your employer if this is possible prior to applying to the AAC Academy.

For private practice clinicians, one thing to consider if you are planning to pay for the AAC Academy on your own is how much you might increase the number of clients and the cost of sessions by adding AAC in your practice. Many practitioners who complete the AAC Academy have a full caseload, a waitlist of clients, and higher session fees to compensate for the cost of including an animal partner. As an example, using AAC with two clients for 12 sessions at a rate of $150 per session (total = $3,600.00) would more than cover the cost of the AAC Academy.

Cancellation Policy

Nonrefundable fees: There is a $100.00 nonrefundable fee for administrative costs associated with processing each payment or refund for training and consultation fees. 

Cancellations: Written cancellations received two weeks prior to the start of the training will receive a full refund. Cancellations within two weeks of the training, during or after the training, or no shows will incur a $200.00 nonrefundable fee. Participants who pay an early bird rate and request reimbursement for future trainings after attending one or more AAC trainings will be charged the regular rate for trainings attended.

Completion Requirements: Participants who begin the AAC Academy training must complete the certification within two years from their initial start date to be eligible for certification. Refunds will not be provided for participants who do not complete the AAC trainings within two years.

Absence Policy: If a participant misses one day of the training for an emergency, the participant will make up the hours missed by participating in a make up session with a trainer to cover the content and skills that were missed. The fee for the make up meeting is $200.00. If a participant misses more than one day of the training, the participant can receive a prorated refund and will be asked to retake the training with the next cohort.