Certification Courses

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Animal/Equine Assisted Self Development & Psychotherapy Certification

18 Months – 228 On-site Hours / 288 Distance Learning Hours - Practicum - Mentoring Hours - CEU Requirement

The professional certification track is open to coaches, educators, mental health professionals and other qualified individuals wanting to pursue or enhance a career in equine and interspecies experiential learning and psychotherapy.

All students in this track learn the same information and will have a clear understanding of the ethics and scope of practice parameters that apply to Animal/Equine Assisted Self Development and Animal/Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. This is a comprehensive, multi-disciplined academic on-site and distance learning 18-month mentored program with supervision and continuing education requirements.

Cost of the course: $9,000 USD
$1,000 non-refundable deposit, transferable (for up to 12 months), due upon acceptance into the ROOTS Training Course. Students will be sent a link to pay the deposit upon acceptance.

Payment Options

1 payment (5% discount)
$9,000 - $450 discount = $8,550 - $1,000 deposit = $7,550 due 21 days prior to start of your program.

2 equal payments 
$9,000 - $1,000 deposit = $8,000. $4,000 payment due 21 days prior to start of your program. $4,000 payment due February 1st of your second year.

20 payment plan (3% admin fee)
$9,000 + $270 admin fee = $9,270 - $1,000 deposit = $8,270 ~ 20 = $413.50 per month auto debited monthly.

Distance learning includes reading, mentoring with ROOTS Faculty, presentations, work with equines and other animals, mentored client sessions. These will be detailed in your syllabus after being accepted in to the program.

Visit the admissions page to learn more about admission requirements and to apply for admission. 

2016-2017 On-site Modules Located at One Heart Wild Education Sanctuary, Silverdale, WA

Field Module - Arizona

Module 1 - April 13-17, 2016

Module 1 - June 29 - July 3, 2016

Module 2 - July 24-30, 2016

Field Module - November 4-6, 2016 (students attend one date that is convenient for them)

Module 3 - September 28 - October 2, 2016

Field Module - April 2017 (students attend one date that is convenient for them)

Module 4 - May 2017

Module 5 - July 2017

Module 6 - September 2017


Personal Equine Experiential Learning

5 Day On-site Module 


  • Fully experience and emotionally participate in equine experiential learning.

  • To integrate mindfulness with relational practice. To understand personal attachment, relational and process styles.

  • To experience inter-species relationship through somatic and emotional presence.

  • To develop a social-emotional foundation that will support a student’s human-horse-nonhuman animal professional learning and facilitation.


  • Students will have a deepened understanding of their personal psychology and how that contributes to the quality of their personal relationships.
  • Students will be prepared, through personal understanding and experience of the work, to move on to the next phase of the advocacy or facilitation certification program.


Trans-species Psychology Theory – Nonhuman Animal Ethics – Collaborative/Mindful Horsemanship Skills – Social Animal Relational Behavior

7 Day On-site Module 


  • To understand the history of human relationship with horses and other social animals.
  • To examine and understand the historical and popular training methods and their consequences or benefits to the horse and other social animals.
  • To explore the latest science and research theory that contributes to our understanding of the commonalities between all social animals in mind, brain, emotion, and physiology.
  • To understand learning theory and how that applies to teaching of equines and other nonhuman animals.
  • To explore the applications and implications of shifting from a dominance paradigm in equine training and relationship practice to one that is socially collaborative and self determinant.
  • To prepare people working personally and professionally with horses and other nonhuman social animals in human-animal interaction/intervention.
  • To explore the benefits and challenges of practicing equine experiential sessions in different types of equine facilities.
  • To understand nonverbal communication theory and to explore how human-animal interaction can improve our nonverbal skills.


  • Students will develop an understanding of how the sciences of psychology, ethology, ecology, and affective neuroscience merge into a common language between human and nonhuman animals through Trans-species Psychology.
  • Students will be able to articulate their understanding of where equine science and equine training traditions diverge and to effectively utilize teaching skills vs. training skills that engage collaboration and cooperation in human-equine interactions.
  • Students will demonstrate critical problem-solving skills, based on Trans-species Psychology sciences, when presented with equine interaction challenges that require shifting from dominance-based skills to collaborative skills.
  • Through examination of case studies, students will be equipped to demonstrate an understanding of the costs and benefits inherent in positive and negative reinforced learning theory and practice.
  • Through experience, students will gain confidence in their ability to safely adjust to an individual horse's needs by employing tools that reflect their understanding of the horse as a species, as a social animal, and as an individual with a psyche that affects their learning, mood and behavior.
  • Students will present case studies representing their ability to identify equine behavioral stereotypes and to apply critical thinking skills to improve welfare and/or well-being issues.
  • Students will demonstrate their ability to think critically about equine welfare by assessing industry standard session activities. Students will present their findings with regards to how an activity affects the well-being of the equine in the session as well as the potential for long term welfare of the equine.
  • Through small group sessions, students will present a plan for creating or securing an appropriate ROOTS Inter-species equine experiential practice location.

Students will improve their confidence in verbal and nonverbal communication and skillful practice of the ethics of working with nonhuman animals that is reflective of the shifting paradigm in the human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction field: doing no harm to mind, body or spirit in either species of animal. Human and nonhuman will have equal opportunity for developing wellness and resilience through their work together.


Equine Field Observation – Developing Critical Awareness of the Equine Species Through

Understanding Ethology of Free Living Equines

3 Day On-site Module 


  • To compare and contrast pre and post field observation learning and experiences of equine behavior.
  • To consider the behavioral adaptations made by domestic groups of horses and domestic horses who have been denied social living.
  • To develop an astute capacity for observing and accurately interpreting the nuances of equine behavior.


  • Students will be able to effectively incorporate acquired, novel learning and experiences to challenge their established conceptions of the nature of the horse.

Through this field experience and final group presentation, students will demonstrate an increased sensibility for Equus Caballus and a new baseline for normative equine behavior.


Therapeutic Skills – Scope of Practice – Professional Ethics – Industry Research – Components of a Session

5 Day On-site Module 


  • To understand aspects of human development, therapeutic processes and skills, personality disorder and trauma which are relevant to inter-species experiential therapy or coaching work with horses and humans.
  • To develop a mental health first aid mindset that is scope of practice specific; honing skills to identify, contain and refer.
  • To gain exposure to the ROOTS code of ethics and explore integrating student’s professional ethics.
  • To explore the parameters of scope of practice from simple social interspecies interactions to learning or coaching, and psychotherapeutic process.
  • To understand the role and process of establishing bidirectional professional referral relationships that support equine experiential learning and psychotherapy practices.
  • To discuss the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, ethology, ecology and equine experiential learning that pertain to expanding student’s human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction knowledge base.
  • To blend the creative process with a solid understanding of how change, growth and healing is nurtured within an equine experiential session or series of sessions.


  • Through personal process and written assignments that consider both human and horse, students will demonstrate their understanding of attachment theory in practice, creating a secure alliance, relational listening skills, understanding and reducing the effects of shame, therapeutic problem-solving techniques and how to create a developmental needs assessment.
  • Students will identify their professional niche and integrate current research into an informational presentation.

Students will be prepared to begin practice sessions incorporating ROOTS components of a session, incorporating learned tools for working with the unexpected, and engaging with the energy of horse, client and self in a session.


The Social Brain – Complex Trauma – Somatic Body-Mind Integration –

Trans-species Psychology – Components of a Session

5 Day On-site Module 


  • To familiarize students with cutting-edge research and thinking regarding the social brain and how this informs the profession of interspecies interaction and equine experiential learning and therapy.
  • To provide an overview of trauma and its effects on mind, behavior, health, and wellness in human and nonhuman animals.
  • To understand the role of somatic experiences in human-nonhuman animal interaction.
  • To review the latest research in mindfulness and mind-body integration, and to connect these findings to working within the human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction field.
  • To fully explore the integrative science of Trans-species Psychology by building a clear understanding of how this science shapes a paradigm shift in the field of human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction.
  • To discuss and problem solve the issues surrounding when and how to employ an Equine Welfare Advocate during sessions, and elements of the working relationship.


  • Students will present a complex trauma case study that integrates and adapts the latest science to the student’s scope of practice, demonstrating appropriate session activities and ROOTS tools for recognizing, containing, referring and follow up.
  • Recognizing the parallels between human and nonhuman social animals, students will ethically and equally respond to behavior that may be linked to a trauma history.
  • Students will practice scientifically informed mindfulness approaches to reducing psychological and physiological stress and explore resilience, through prevention and wellness, within equine experiential learning and therapy sessions.
  • Students will present, for group discussion and shared learning, their successes and challenges from practicum sessions.
  • Through nonhuman animal trans-species psychological case studies, students should have a new mindset and skill set towards problem solving behavior, evaluating human and horse response/reaction to session activities, and evaluating individual equine needs in a program.


Specific Populations – Neuro-diversity – Assessing & Designing Session Activities – Experiential Facilitation

5 Day On-site Module

2 Days Instructional – 3 Days Experiential Practicum


  • To explore the parameters and constraints of working within human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction sessions with specific populations.
  • To investigate how the leaders in the field of neurodiversity support a paradigm shift in how we understand the neuro-diverse brain and how that knowledge can inform student’s work in equine experiential learning sessions.
  • To develop a framework for ethically assessing commonly used equine experiential session activities and to explore creativity in designing and testing activities that meet ROOTS code of ethics.
  • To explore and experience working in session with fellow students and instructors in small and large group.
  • To augment learning and discovery with in-depth practicum and discussion.


  • Students will have an expanded understanding of neuro-diversity with tools to determine who is a good fit for human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction sessions.
  • Through didactic learning, students will know how to identify challenges and needs of specific populations, including the neurodivergent.
  • Students will design EEL/EEP sessions and interactions that are appropriate for specific populations.
  • Students will build competence in their ability to create activities, conduct sessions and problem solve, through in-depth practicum; demonstrating their awareness and ability to work with emotion and somatic information from self, horse, Equine Advocate and client.


Children – Teens – Designing Session Activities – Creating & Assessing Treatment Plans – Experiential Facilitation – Final Presentations by Students

5 day On-site Module 

2 Days Instructional – 2 Days Experiential Practicum – 1 Days Student Presentation


  • To explore the parameters and differences in working within human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction sessions with children and teens.
  • To integrate the latest research and paradigm shifts in how we understand complex trauma and other challenges that may pertain to working with young people.
  • To develop an understanding of when, how and what type of treatment plans may be useful and/or necessary for supporting children and youth in equine experiential learning or psychotherapy.
  • To explore and experience working in practicum sessions with fellow students and instructors in small and large group.
  • To offer time for discussion and discovery about the practicum.


  • Students will demonstrate skills for adapting activities for human-horse-nonhuman animal interaction sessions with young people.
  • Students will be able to identify challenges and specific needs in session with young people who have suffered complex trauma or other major life challenges.
  • Students will present a 30-45 minute professional PowerPoint presentation to the group that can be used in their program/business marketing.

"The ROOTS Institute of One Heart Wild Education Sanctuary is one of the most rewarding, rigorous and meaningful learning experiences I have had in my 24 year career as an education professional. The learning format of ROOTS Institute is ideal for me as a working professional. The six-module, 18 month format allows ample opportunity for hands-on learning at a pace that is suitable for adult learners, and it provides time in between modules for reading, reflection, in-depth study of topics, field observations and experiential practice. The instructors are available for support online or by phone as needed during periods of independent study, and they provide exemplary hands-on facilitation and modeling of strategies that we will be using as practitioners. Combining self-study with small group work and outdoor engagement with human and non-human animals will equip us to step into the work of facilitation with clients with confidence, and with a supportive community of co-learners and colleagues."

-Donna Van Renselaar,  M.Ed

ROOTS Institute Class of 2016/2017

Have a question about how you can become a part of the next generation of human-animal experiential learning & welfare advocacy professionals? Click here to let us know.

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