Online training for counselors of animal abusers

<p>According to a study published last year, abusing animals is considered a manifestation of low empathy and a callous disregard for life, and it also could be an indicator of violence toward humans. Those who are caught abusing animals could face criminal charges – and, in a growing number of states, counseling and evaluation also are required for all persons convicted of animal cruelty.</p> <p>ASU’s School of Social Work has teamed up with the Animals and Society Institute (ASI) to offer, beginning this fall, online professional education for the practitioners who deal with this type of deviant behavior. Anyone with a master’s degree in an area related to health and human services can enroll in a non-credit certificate program or an advanced certificate program. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree can take selected courses for continuing education credits.</p> <p>The courses cover human-animal relationships, as well as assessment and treatment of animal abusers.</p> <p>This unique cluster of courses addresses the growing demand for specific assessment and counseling for the individual who tortured animals, and also that individual’s parents and immediate family members. The courses will be taught by ASU’s Christina Risley-Curtiss, associate professor of social work, and Kenneth Shapiro, ASI’s founder and executive director.</p> <p>Risley-Curtiss has more than 20 years of practice and management experience in public health and child welfare and conducts funded research on the animal-human bond and child welfare. Her course, “Animal-Human Connections,” earned a national award from the Humane Society of the United States, and she is a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.</p> <p>“Since my early childhood on a farm in Connecticut, where my father and grandfather practiced veterinary medicine, I have been attuned to an ethic of compassion for animals,” Risley-Curtiss says.</p> <p>While conducting a national research survey of social workers to assess their knowledge of their client’s relationships with animals, she identified a gap in practitioner knowledge that she continues to pursue with this new program.</p> <p>“When an animal is harmed intentionally, this deviant behavior may point to child abuse, domestic abuse or elder abuse in the perpetrator’s immediate family and other serious behavioral problems,” she says. “First responders and professionals brought into these situations can be much more effective if they are armed with the knowledge and training we are offering.”</p> <p>Shapiro, who is director of the Animals and Society Institute, earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Duke University and is best known for helping develop AniCare, a national model for training professionals how to assess and treat animal cruelty, which is part of the advanced certificate requirements. He is founding editor of Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies and co-founding co-editor of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.</p> <p>Each certificate program requires two courses out of the three offered, and the advanced certificate also requires completing the AniCare training program. Each course is $900. For more information, visit the Web site <a href="http://ssw.asu.edu/certificates">http://ssw.asu.edu/certificates</a>.</p>