The Equine Psychotherapy Institute

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Equine Therapy Students

AAP Students are registered allied health, mental health and clinical professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors, psychotherapists, mental health occupational therapists and credentialed nurses).

AAL Students are teachers, disability support workers, youth workers, animal trainers, horse riding instructors, coaches, veterinarians, vet nurses and people interested in helping people learn new social-emotional skills, with animals as engaging partners in the process.

animal assisted therapy dog


This unique training is available for both Australian and English-speaking International students.

This program offers an engaging and accessible online format over 40 classes/weeks, perfect for those fitting their study in around work, family and other commitments.

animal assisted cat


Our online AAP/AAL Foundation Training is delivered live every week on Zoom, by our senior trainer and EPI founder, Meggin Kirby.

Over a total of 120 Contact Hours (plus Accrued Learning Hours), you will learn a sophisticated and comprehensive humanistic model of animal assisted psychotherapy and animal wisdom animal assisted learning practice.

animal assisted therapy roo
animal assisted cat


  • To understand the theory and practice of the AWARE Therapy™framework for animal assisted psychotherapy and animal assisted learning. AWARE Therapy is a humanistic psychotherapy approach developed by Institute founder Meg Kirby, which is a pioneering relational, ethical and trauma-informed approach to including animals in therapy and experiential growth, learning and development.
  • To understand and apply the psychotherapy, experiential learning and creative principles and practices underpinning AWARE Therapy™.
  • To understand ethical issues and professional standards of practice and safety practices with animals and clients.
  • To develop assessment, process and closure skills.
  • To review and apply counselling micro-skills, including somatic, emotional, cognitive, relational and behavioural interventions.
  • To create appropriate and graded experiments (relational experiences with animals) to offer diverse clients and client groups based on assessment and client presentation, with professionalism and sensitivity.
  • To understand and apply stage 1 trauma skills.
  • To offer trauma-informed equine assisted practice.
  • To apply a developmental lens in understanding symptoms, presenting behaviours, patterns.
  • To develop skills in working with unconscious processes including working with fixed cognitive, behavioural and relational patterns.
  • To understand and apply relational practice in the context of animal assisted practice.
    To articulate clear therapeutic goals or learning goals and design appropriate equine experiments to meet client need/presentation.
  • To utilise reflective practice, understand and be guided by self-awareness and ‘self as practitioner’, understanding the impact of practitioner core themes, patterns and countertransference on clients and practice.
  • To develop species-specific knowledge and skills, understand relevantanimal physiology psychology and behaviour, and appreciate the relational dynamics that animals bring to the process.
  • To understand the relationship between practitioners and their animals, including the impact on safety and efficacy.
  • To develop core competencies in animal welfare, safety and ethics, alongside core competencies in therapeutic process, experiential learning and group process.
  • To understand and practice I–Thou Inter-species Relating™.
  • To understand and practice the Animal Wisdom program.
  • To identify practitioner limitations and be committed to continuing personal and professional growth and development.
  • To begin your successful Animal Assisted practice with basic business orientation.
animal assisted therapy roo


  • Attendance is a Completion Requirement. Our online classes are live.
  • Students must be available to attend all 40 classes/weeks of training. Please note class size dictates final training length (36-40 classes total).
  • You need a reliable internet connection, computer or laptop, private study or desk for online class attendance, and, safe access to animals for practicals.
  • You need IT skills or access to support to upload videos for assessment, participate, and interact virtually. (We can help you with this!)
  • You will need to set aside 3 hours for classes, with full presence and focus, in privacy, and without distraction, as well as additional time for weekly reading and homework (plus time for assessment and certification requirements – i.e. integration papers during training, video submission and exam at completion of training). (It is not suitable to attend class in a shared family space due to confidentiality).
  • Students must participate in classes using a laptop or similar device with camera-enabled/ON at all times. Participating on a phone is not suitable due to the activities involved in training.
  • This is a relationally-based training with a large focus on personal development and it is expected that students are able to attend online classes with 100% presence and focus.
animal assisted therapy chicken


  • The core competencies of Animal Assisted Practice
  • Animal Studies, I- Thou Inter-species Relating, Safety Guidelines, Animal Welfare and Ethical practice
  • Animals as Change Agents – understanding of the unique dynamics that can occur in animal assisted psychotherapy and animal assisted learning
  • An overview of AWARE Therapy framework, a unique relational, trauma-informed, experiential, ethical and animal-wisdom based model founded in psychotherapy theory and practice and neuroscience.
  • Underpinning Psychotherapy theory including gestalt therapy, awareness and mindfulness, phenomenology, developmental, trauma-informed, and somatic experiencing, principles and practices.
  • Practice methodology, including somatic, emotional, cognitive, behavioural, brain-body, relationship-focused methodology.
  • The ‘what’ and ‘how’ in AAP and AAL processes – the theoretical and experiential foundations, including applications at liberty, on-line and led mounted sessions (with horses.)
  • An Introduction to different applications – working with individuals and groups.
  • AWARE Therapy framework and theory of change – this includes understanding how people grow and change generally, and how change can happen therapeutically in animal assisted processes.
  • Specific Code of Ethics and Ethical practice.
  • Introduction to Business and Professional practice in the context of animal assisted practice, and much, much more!
animal assisted therapy dog


  • Attend Online Classes with a maximum of 2 absences
  • Submission of 3 Integration Papers
  • Facilitate and Video Submission of 1 AAP/ AAL Practice Assessment Session
  • Complete 6 AAP/ AAL Clinical/Practice Sessions keep case notes
  • Complete 6 Online Supervision Sessions with EPI Supervisor
  • Completion of Online Animal Studies course (included in course fees)
  • Signed/compliance with Institute Code of Ethics
  • 3 Personal Psychotherapy Sessions (recommended)
  • Includes Required Reading and active participation during training

All completed within 12 months.


Online AAP / AAL Training: $6,0000 plus GST ($6,600 inc. GST)

The price includes 120 hours of trainer led training, and 6 x Phone Supervision Sessions.
Animal Studies Program to be completed within 12 months (included as part of your course fees)

Equine assisted psychotherapy class


After completion of training students/practitioners will:

  • Join Closed Facebook Group
  • Access Supervision
  • Access Psychotherapy (as needed)
  • Access ongoing Professional Development opportunities – Advanced / Specialist Training, Conferences, Assisting in training etc.
  • Have lifetime access to a Community of Practitioners


We are uniquely placed given our training is pitched at the standard you would expect from a post graduate training. The standard of training is high, aimed at a post degree level or equivalent.

We are celebrating our 11th year of training in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, that we offer alongside our Animal Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning Training, and specialisation in Nature Assisted Psychotherapy.

We are an established training organisation and have been successfully training hundreds of practitioners since 2011.

This training program is designed to support you as a practitioner to be personally and professionally competent in working with animals and humans for the purpose of human growth, development and healing, where the animals are honoured as teacher, assistant and co-facilitator.

We will support and challenge you to grow and feel ‘held’ as you grow into grounded and authentic practitioners. Our program sets a high standard for students, practitioners and the wider international community.