Course Description

*This complete Online Course includes a PDF of the book, Play Therapy With Kids & Canines: Benefits for Children's Developmental and Psychosocial Health, and the Final Exam. If you have access to the book and want to purchase the Final Exam only, click here.

This program provides instruction on obtaining and training appropriate pets as therapy animals; integrating animal-assisted therapy and play therapy; and the use of canine cotherapists in such areas as reducing anxiety, dealing with grief and loss, building confidence and competence, and achieving weight loss. The author also demonstrates the use of animal-assisted therapy in the treatment of abused and traumatized children, ADHD children, and children with speech and language difficulties.

6 CE credits/hours, 60 questions

Target Audience

Psychologists | School Psychologists | Marriage & Family Therapists | Mental Health Counselors | Social Workers

Learning Level


Learning Objectives

  • Explain the integration of animal-assisted therapy and play therapy.
  • Demonstrate how to select and train a play therapy dog.
  • Discuss how to use canines as cotherapists to reduce anxiety, deal with grief and loss, build confidence and competence, and achieve weight loss.
  • Summarize how to use animal-assisted play therapy to treat abused and traumatized children, ADHD children, and children with speech and language difficulties.

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, is a licensed psychologist and registered play therapist-supervisor with over 35 years of clinical and leadership experience in a variety of settings.  She is the President of the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, Inc. in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, of which the Playful Pooch Program is a part.  Dr. VanFleet is the founder of the International Collaborative on Play Therapy and a Past President/Board Chair of the Association for Play Therapy.  She has authored several books on filial/family therapy, numerous chapters and articles on play therapy, and is featured on four popular DVD workshops.  Dr. VanFleet has trained thousands worldwide and has received two prestigious national awards for her work.  She is involved in program development and ongoing research on the use of animals in conjunction with therapy, with particular focus on canine-assisted play therapy.  She is an Approved Evaluator with the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen® Program, a full member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and she offers training programs for professionals on filial therapy and the use of dogs in play therapy.  Dr. VanFleet is also author of Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play (Third Edition) (Professional Resource Press, 2014).

Course curriculum

  1. 1
    • Statement of Understanding (downloadable/printable)

  2. 2
    • PDF Book (downloadable/printable)

  3. 3
    • "Play Therapy With Kids & Canines" - Final Exam Questions (downloadable/printable)

    • Final Exam

  4. 4
    • Evaluation Questionnaire