Animal-Assisted Therapist Job Description [Updated for 2024]

animal assisted therapist job description 1

In a world increasingly recognizing the benefits of alternative therapies, the focus on Animal-Assisted Therapists has never been more significant.

As our understanding of mental health evolves, so does the demand for professionals who can harness the therapeutic power of animals to foster healing and wellness.

But let’s delve deeper: What’s truly expected from an Animal-Assisted Therapist?

Whether you are:

  • An aspirant exploring the intricacies of this role,
  • A hiring manager delineating the perfect candidate,
  • Or simply interested in the dynamics of Animal-Assisted Therapy,

You’re in the right place.

Today, we present a customizable Animal-Assisted Therapist job description template, designed for effortless posting on job boards or career sites.

Let’s dive right into it.

Animal-Assisted Therapist Duties and Responsibilities

Animal-Assisted Therapists integrate animals into therapeutic treatment plans to promote the mental, emotional, physical and social wellbeing of patients.

They utilize the beneficial human-animal bond to support healing and improve the quality of life.

The duties and responsibilities of an Animal-Assisted Therapist include:

  • Evaluating the patient’s health, disability, and other medical conditions to determine the suitability of animal-assisted therapy
  • Creating and implementing individualized therapy plans that incorporate interactions with animals
  • Facilitating therapeutic activities with animals to help patients improve motor skills, balance, and coordination
  • Observing and documenting patients’ progress and modifying treatment plans as necessary
  • Ensuring the welfare of the animals used in therapy, including proper nutrition, exercise, and medical care
  • Maintaining a safe environment for both the patients and the animals during therapy sessions
  • Training animals to behave appropriately and respond to specific therapeutic commands
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, occupational therapists, and social workers to provide comprehensive care
  • Educating patients and their families about animal-assisted therapy and its benefits
  • Adhering to ethical guidelines and professional standards in animal-assisted therapy


Animal-Assisted Therapist Job Description Template

Job Brief

We are looking for a compassionate and dedicated Animal-Assisted Therapist to join our team.

The ideal candidate will utilize therapy animals to help patients improve their emotional and physical health.

The Animal-Assisted Therapist will be responsible for conducting therapeutic sessions with patients, using animals to aid in treatment.

This role requires a solid understanding of animal behavior and a passion for helping individuals overcome their challenges through the use of therapy animals.



  • Evaluate patients’ physical and mental health status
  • Plan and implement animal-assisted therapy programs
  • Monitor and record patient progress during therapy sessions
  • Ensure the welfare and safety of the therapy animals
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop holistic treatment plans
  • Provide emotional support and counseling to patients
  • Conduct research on the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy
  • Train and manage therapy animals
  • Adhere to professional standards and regulations
  • Continually update skills and knowledge through professional development



  • Proven experience as a therapist, preferably in an animal-assisted therapy setting
  • Extensive knowledge of animal behavior
  • Experience with handling and training animals
  • Ability to empathize with and support patients
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to maintain patient confidentiality
  • Degree in psychology, social work, or a related field
  • Certification in animal-assisted therapy is a plus



  • 401(k)
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Retirement plan
  • Paid time off
  • Professional development opportunities


Additional Information

  • Job Title: Animal-Assisted Therapist
  • Work Environment: The work environment is typically a therapy center, hospital, or patient’s home. Regular interaction with animals is a major part of this job.
  • Reporting Structure: Reports to the Director of Therapy Services or Senior Therapist.
  • Salary: Salary is based upon candidate experience and qualifications, as well as market and business considerations.
  • Pay Range: $40,000 minimum to $80,000 maximum
  • Location: [City, State] (specify the location or indicate if remote)
  • Employment Type: Full-time
  • Equal Opportunity Statement: We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.
  • Application Instructions: Please submit your resume and a cover letter outlining your qualifications and experience to [email address or application portal].


What Does an Animal-Assisted Therapist Do?

Animal-Assisted Therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, nursing homes, and mental health facilities, utilizing the unique therapeutic properties of interactions with animals to aid in the treatment of their patients.

These professionals often work as part of a multidisciplinary team, collaborating closely with psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and medical professionals to create and implement treatment plans that incorporate animal interaction.

The animals used in therapy, often dogs, cats, or horses, are carefully selected and trained to provide comfort, encourage social interaction, and help patients work on specific therapy goals, such as improving motor skills, enhancing communication abilities, or reducing stress and anxiety.

The therapist’s role involves monitoring and guiding the interaction between the patient and the animal, adjusting the therapy sessions based on the patient’s progress, and ensuring the wellbeing of both the patient and the animal involved.

Moreover, Animal-Assisted Therapists are responsible for maintaining the training and health of their therapy animals, and for understanding and abiding by any laws or regulations related to the use of animals in a therapeutic setting.

They also need to keep up-to-date with the latest research in the field of animal-assisted therapy to provide the most effective treatment for their patients.


Animal-Assisted Therapist Qualifications and Skills

An Animal-Assisted Therapist should have the qualifications and skills that align with the requirements of the job role, including:

  • Professional qualifications in occupational therapy, psychotherapy, or similar field, with specialized training in animal-assisted therapy.
  • A strong understanding and knowledge of animal behavior and care, with specific training on how to involve animals in therapy.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to connect with patients of all age groups and build trusting relationships.
  • Patience and compassion to work with individuals who may have physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities.
  • Communication skills to interact effectively with patients, their families, and other medical professionals, and to convey the benefits and processes of animal-assisted therapy.
  • Problem-solving skills to adapt therapy plans based on individual patient needs and responses.
  • Ability to ensure the safety and well-being of both the patient and the animal involved in therapy.
  • Physical stamina to handle animals, often for extended periods, and to assist patients as needed.


Animal-Assisted Therapist Experience Requirements

Animal-Assisted Therapists generally have a background in a related field such as psychology, social work, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

They usually gain their initial experience and skills from these fields while also gaining exposure to the therapeutic benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

Entry-level candidates for Animal-Assisted Therapist roles may have 1 to 2 years of relevant experience, often gained through internships or part-time roles in therapeutic settings.

They will have experience in working with animals, often through volunteering at animal shelters, veterinary clinics, or farms.

Candidates with 2 to 3 years of experience would have supplemented their initial knowledge with a deeper understanding of the role of animals in therapy.

They may have gained this experience in roles such as Animal-Assisted Therapy Assistant or Volunteer, or through furthering their education with courses specializing in animal-assisted therapy.

Those with more than 5 years of experience in therapy fields and extensive work with animals may be qualified for senior or lead positions in Animal-Assisted Therapy.

They likely have experience in designing and executing therapy programs, and have built an understanding of the specific needs and responses of a diverse range of clients.

They may also have some experience in training or supervising other therapists or therapy animals.

It is also important to note that many roles in this field require a certification in Animal-Assisted Therapy, which provides practical training and a theoretical understanding of the role of animals in therapy.

This certification can often be achieved while gaining experience in the field.


Animal-Assisted Therapist Education and Training Requirements

Animal-Assisted Therapists typically hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, or a related field.

Many professionals in this field further their education by obtaining a master’s degree in their respective fields, such as clinical psychology, counseling, or rehabilitation.

In addition to their formal education, those interested in Animal-Assisted Therapy usually have additional training and certification in working with animals.

This can be through programs that specifically train animals for therapeutic purposes, or through organizations that certify therapy animals.

Certification in Animal-Assisted Therapy is not always required but can be beneficial.

The requirements for certification can vary but typically involve completing coursework related to understanding animal behavior, the human-animal bond, and the therapeutic approaches used in animal-assisted therapy.

Lastly, practical experience is crucial.

This can be achieved through internships, volunteering at rehabilitation centers, or working in environments that incorporate animal therapy.

The more hands-on experience an individual has with different types of animals and different therapeutic situations, the better equipped they will be to handle the demands of this role.

Ongoing education and training are also important, as new techniques and research in Animal-Assisted Therapy are continuously emerging.

This field requires a deep understanding of both human and animal behaviors, so a dedication to lifelong learning is beneficial.


Animal-Assisted Therapist Salary Expectations

An Animal-Assisted Therapist can expect to earn an average salary of approximately $45,000 (USD) per year.

However, this salary can vary based on the level of experience, additional certifications, location, and the type of employing organization.


Animal-Assisted Therapist Job Description FAQs

What skills does an Animal-Assisted Therapist need?

An Animal-Assisted Therapist should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to establish rapport with clients and understand their therapeutic needs.

They should possess a genuine love for animals, patience, and sensitivity to handle therapy animals, and have the ability to maintain a calm demeanor in various situations.

Knowledge of animal behavior is essential and they must also have a good understanding of human psychology and therapy practices.


Do Animal-Assisted Therapists need a degree?

Yes, Animal-Assisted Therapists typically need a degree in a related field such as psychology, counseling, social work, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

They should also have training in animal-assisted therapy and ideally be certified by a recognized organization in the field.

Experience working with animals and in a therapeutic setting is highly beneficial.


What should you look for in an Animal-Assisted Therapist resume?

An Animal-Assisted Therapist’s resume should highlight their educational qualifications in a related field, any additional certifications in animal-assisted therapy, and their experience working with animals and in therapeutic settings.

Look for skills such as empathy, patience, communication, and the ability to handle different types of animals.

Knowledge about animal behavior and understanding of various therapeutic techniques is also important.


What qualities make a good Animal-Assisted Therapist?

A good Animal-Assisted Therapist has a deep empathy for their clients and a genuine love for animals.

They are patient, resilient, and have the ability to remain calm and composed in stressful situations.

They should have strong interpersonal and communication skills to build rapport with clients and facilitate their therapeutic process.

They should also have a good understanding of animal behavior and the ability to work with a variety of animals.


Is it challenging to hire an Animal-Assisted Therapist?

Hiring an Animal-Assisted Therapist can sometimes be challenging as it requires a unique set of skills and qualifications, including a degree in a related field, certification in animal-assisted therapy, and experience working with animals.

The candidate should also be able to connect with clients therapeutically while managing the animals used in therapy.

Therefore, finding a suitable candidate who fulfills all these criteria can be a challenging task.



So there you have it.

Today, we’ve unveiled the real essence of being an Animal-Assisted Therapist.

Surprising, isn’t it?

It’s not just about loving animals.

It’s about weaving a web of healing and comfort, one therapy session at a time.

With our reliable Animal-Assisted Therapist job description template and relevant examples, you’re on the right path.

But why limit yourself?

Delve deeper with our job description generator. It’s your next step towards creating meticulously detailed listings or tailoring your resume to absolute perfection.


Every therapy session contributes to a larger narrative.

Let’s shape that narrative. Together.

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