sixteen-miles-out-4SWyyOXLEbg-unsplash.jpg

ANIMAL CHAPLAIN TRAINING

Channel your passion for animals and the planet into a caring and supportive profession

Animal chaplains provide support for both animals and humans by using ritual, ceremony, and the tools of spiritual companionship. Our training program helps you fulfill your heart’s call to honor and celebrate the lives of all species, including how to companion them through joys and challenges. 

Our program is non-denominational and does not require students to have a specific religious or spiritual outlook. It will, though, prepare you to work with a diverse set of belief systems, so that you can support people regardless of their own outlook.

OR

 
 
Image by Geran de Klerk

Program Overview

 

Program Overview

Sixty-seven percent of homes are interspecies! Humans have practical and spiritual questions about what to do when animals are injured, sick, lost, or die.

 

The stress and grief we experience during these heartbreaking moments are real. Yet it is often denied because the loss is “not human.” Beyond our homes, how do we address the heartbreak we feel seeing a deer lying on the roadside or the extinction of species on our shared planet?

 

Animal chaplains provide support for both animals and humans by using ritual, ceremony, and the tools of spiritual companionship. Compassion Consortium’s Animal Chaplaincy Training helps you fulfill your heart’s call to honor and celebrate the lives of all species, including how to companion them through joys and challenges.

 

Our curriculum combines chaplaincy fundamentals and bereavement basics with best practices from the innovative fields of interspirituality, humane education, animal theology, nature spirituality, and human-animal studies. We offer a flexible program that develops the professional skills you need to:

 

  • Channel your passion for animals and the planet into a caring and supportive profession

  • Expand your healing business to include conscious and compassionate life transitions for animals and the humans who love them

  • Know what to do and say to help people navigate grief and loss in a meaningful way

  • Lead individuals and groups in interspecies practices designed to increase well-being and compassion

  • Develop creative rituals to support individuals, animal sanctuaries, nonprofits, veterinary practices, meditation centers, yoga programs, or religious communities

Our courses are offered online in order to be accessible to the widest audience and to avoid travel expenses (for you and the planet). Each July, we offer an optional 4-day in-person retreat to celebrate the past year's graduates and gather in community.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is this a religious program?

You do not need to be a religious person to become a chaplain, and we encourage people of all belief systems (or none) to apply, whether you are Buddhist, Christian, Vedic, Jewish, Wiccan, [insert your tradition here, we don't have room to type all 4000+], or you consider yourself secular. The Compassion Consortium itself is an interfaith, interspiritual, and interspecies organization.

In this program, you will not being asked to believe anything specific. However, as a chaplain you will need to be able to support people regardless of their belief system. For that reason, our program will teach you how to meet people "where they are" by exposing you to a wide range of beliefs about animals from religious/spiritual communities, scientific literature, and ethical discourses. We believe the more you know about how people have formed their beliefs about human/animal relationships, the more you can help people and other animals.

 

2. What is ordination? And do I need it? 

Ordination is a process of conferring a certain status on an individual, performed by an organization. It can look different in different organizations. Within this program, it means that you have completed all of the steps we think you need to become a professional animal chaplain, you have completed an individualized mentored capstone with us to step into your unique calling, and that we welcome you into our organization as a professional member. If you have more questions about whether or not you would like to pursue our 9-month ordination program versus our 6-month certification program, please schedule a consult with us and we can talk to you more about the difference.

Image by BRUNO EMMANUELLE

Curriculum & Monthly Time Commitment

 
 
 

Curriculum Components

Format

Training includes individual study and group sessions with faculty and guest speakers. Our program features curated reading and reflection, film discussions, peer-supported practice groups, 1-on-1 mentoring, and community-based experiential sessions. Optional in-person retreats are also available (details provided upon acceptance to the program).

Our three program options build based on your desired level of skills and knowledge. All students start the program together each September.
 

All students will take the Foundations Course and some will continue on to complete the Certificate Program. The 9-month Ordained Chaplain Training includes all of the content from both the Foundations Course and Certificate Program. See the Program Options & Fees Section below for more details on the courses, focus areas, and guidance on which program might be right for you.

Community

Our training programs are guided by the Compassion Consortium's Tenets of Agreement.

Back to top

Monthly Time Commitment

Total commitment:

All three programs require an estimated the same time commitment each week. The difference between our programs is not the amount of commitment each week, but rather the length of time you stay committed to the program (3, 6, or 9 months) and the learning outcomes.

DAILY:

15 min+ of mindfulness, meditation, or spiritual practice per day

  • A variety of options and tools will be provided

WEEKLY:

2 hours of online group classes every other week

  • Attend group classes the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 6-8 pm ET / 5-7 pm CT / 4-6 MT / 3-5 PT (Accommodations for video-based classes can be made by prior arrangement at enrollment)

2-4 hours of reading, listening, watching, and reflecting each week

  • Includes reading and listening to talks/podcasts 

  • Choose from a curated selection of films to watch and reflect on each month

  • We recognize some people learn visually, some like to be in their heads, others in their hearts, and others learn kinesthetically. We will help tailor your experience to your learning style and interests.

MONTHLY:

1 half-day of online group classes

  • We will gather as a learning community on the third Saturday of each month from 1-6 pm ET / 12-5 CT / 11-4 MT / 10-3 PT for immersive experiences and interactive interviews with guest lecturers working in the fields being studied

1 hour dedicated mentoring with a member of our faculty via Zoom 

Our courses are offered online in order to be accessible to the widest audience and to avoid travel expenses (for you and the planet). Each July, we offer an optional 4-day in-person retreat to celebrate the past year's graduates and gather in community.

Back to top

Image by Daniel Thomas

Program Options & Fees

Image by Anoir Chafik

Foundation
Course

The basics for people curious about animal spirituality and companioning interspecies loss or those who want to expand their existing healing or counseling practice to include animals

View program content

Sept - Nov

$600

Image by Cynthia Smith

Animal Chaplaincy Certificate Program

For people who work within spiritual communities, shelters, vet practices, or animal non-profits, or those who want to develop a business supporting animals and their humans

View program content

Sept - Feb

$1100

Image by Nicole Geri

Ordained Animal Chaplain Training

For people who want to be animal chaplains or in leadership positions supporting animals through life-stage rituals, and humans through messy interspecies ethics and ecological concerns.

View program content

Sept - May

$2200

Note: These program fees are cumulative. So, if you take the full 9-month program, the total cost is $2200. You do not need to separately pay for the other two programs first.

 

Program Options & Fees

Foundations Course 

3-month program

September - November

An experiential survey of practices and methods for addressing the spiritual needs of animals and humans who live or work with animals.

 

Who it's for:

  • People who are curious about becoming an animal chaplain and would like to learn more before committing to the full training program

  • Healers and spiritual directors/mentors who'd like to expand their yoga, coaching, massage, therapy, reiki, veterinary, or spiritual counseling, or wellness practice to support animals and their humans 

 

Focus areas:

Foundation curriculum

  • Interspecies Spirituality: Learn and practice mindfulness, meditative, and spirituality practices―in nature, with animals, and virtually through technology―designed to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase joy, compassion, and balance

  • Companioning Grief & Loss: Develop professional skills for companioning animals and humans through difficult health decisions, loss, death, and grief

  • Trauma Stewardship & Compassion Satisfaction: Practice self-care techniques designed specifically for animal lovers and earth warriors to manage heartbreak and increase resilience

 

Cost:

Course fee:

  • $600 when paid in full upon registration

  • $675 when paid in three monthly recurring payments of $225

 

Estimated self-purchased book & media cost: $100

 

Upon completion of program, participants are encouraged to become a member of the ongoing compassionate practice circle

Animal Chaplaincy Certificate Program

6-month program

September - February

Building on the learnings of the foundations course, our certificate program adds a more detailed look at the the human-animal bond more deeply, and learn practices for helping animals (and their humans) through life's transitions. Also includes an introduction to planetary ethics.

Who it's for:

  • People interested in practicing animal chaplaincy who already have experience or credentials in spiritual counseling, bereavement counseling, therapy, social work, or another companioning modality

  • People interested in the intersection of spirituality and science, such as the empirical evidence for improved health and wellness benefits of human-animal bonds

  • Pastors, rabbis, ministers, imams, priests or other clergy interested in bringing animal and planetary issues into their community in a meaningful way

  • Leadership teams, staff and volunteers working in animal shelters/sanctuaries, veterinary practices, humane education, or vegan advocacy who are interested in integrating spirituality and wellness into their organization

Focus areas:

Foundation curriculum

  • Interspecies Spirituality: Learn and practice mindfulness, meditative, and spirituality practices―in nature, with animals, and virtually through technology―designed to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase joy, compassion, and balance

  • Companioning Grief & Loss: Develop professional skills for companioning animals and humans through difficult health decisions, loss, death, and grief

  • Trauma Stewardship & Compassion Satisfaction: Practice self-care techniques designed specifically for animal lovers and earth warriors to manage heartbreak and increase resilience

Certificate curriculum

  • Anthrozoology & the Human-Animal Bond: Explore scientific, research-based evidence for the spiritual, mental wellness, health, and conservation benefits of the human-animal bonds

  • Rituals: Explore grief and transition rituals from around the world. Then learn to create rituals for animal healing, pet funerals, memorialization, ecological disasters, habitat and species loss, or to promote conservation and animal advocacy in spiritual communities. 

  • Eco-spirituality & Planetary Ethics: Learn creative communication methods that help humans increase their compassion for other species and the Earth and tackle tough ethical dilemmas in the more-than-human world

Course fee:

  • $1100 when paid in full upon registration*

  • $1200 when paid in two recurring payments of $600 (Registration Date / December 1)

  • $1260 when paid in six monthly recurring payments of $210

 

Estimated self-purchased book & media cost: $150 - 200

*This fee is for the entire 6-month certificate program, and is inclusive of the 3-month Foundations Course (not additional).

 

Micro-credential Certificate provided upon completion of program
(Compassion Consortium offers this program as adult education. Contact your professional organization, academic institution, religious institution,  or state licensing board to determine if this program will apply for CE credits or other ongoing educational requirements for you.)

 

Ordained Animal Chaplain Training

9-month program

September - May

Expanding the knowledge and skills developed in the foundations course and certificate program, you'll now tread more deeply in the area of bereavement care, learn to companion people of different faith traditions / belief systems, and work with our faculty to develop a plan for doing the work you feel called to do in the world.

Who its for:

  • People interested in becoming a professional animal chaplain

  • M. Div. seminary students (or graduates) whose program or denomination does not offer a path to an animal chaplaincy

  • Spiritual directors/companions, clergy, and coaches interested in developing their skills and capacity for supporting humans through animal loss, ecological grief, moral injury, compassion fatigue, vystopia, or other animal and earth-related challenges

Foundation curriculum

  • Interspecies Spirituality: Learn and practice mindfulness, meditative, and spirituality practices―in nature, with animals, and virtually through technology―designed to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase joy, compassion, and balance

  • Companioning Grief & Loss: Develop professional skills for companioning animals and humans through difficult health decisions, loss, death, and grief

  • Trauma Stewardship & Compassion Satisfaction: Practice self-care techniques designed specifically for animal lovers and earth warriors to manage heartbreak and increase resilience

Certificate curriculum

  • Anthrozoology & the Human-Animal Bond: Explore scientific, research-based evidence for the spiritual, mental wellness, health, and conservation benefits of the human-animal bonds

  • Rituals: Explore grief and transition rituals from around the world. Then learn to create rituals for animal healing, pet funerals, memorialization, ecological disasters, habitat and species loss, or to promote conservation and animal advocacy in spiritual communities. 

  • Eco-spirituality & Planetary Ethics: Learn creative communication methods that help humans increase their compassion for other species and the Earth and tackle tough ethical dilemmas in the more-than-human world

Chaplaincy skills curriculum​

  • Animal Theology: Learn what different religions and philosophical traditions "say" about animals, including tools and resources for supporting people of different spiritual paths 

  • Bereavement Care: Study different models for bereavement support. Then, develop your own authentic model for supporting people through animal loss, ecological grief, and other spiritual challenges. Engage in practicums to hone your skills for working with others in a safe, supportive space.

  • Creative Capstone: Guided by your faculty mentor, you'll work 1-on-1 to deepen your knowledge in your chosen area of emphasis. We'll curate readings and media for your unique call to support the more-than-human world. Then you'll complete a final reflective project to help launch your chaplaincy into the world.

 

Cost: 

  • $2200 when paid in full upon registration*

  • $2295 when paid in three recurring payments of $765
    (Registration Date / December 1 / March 1)

  • $2430 when paid in nine monthly recurring payments of $270

 

Estimated self-purchased book & media cost: $250 - 300

*This fee is for the entire 9-month ordination program, and is inclusive of the 3-month and 6-month program costs (not additional).

Certification of Ordination provided upon completion of program

(Compassion Consortium offers this program as adult education. Contact your professional organization, academic institution, religious institution,  or state licensing board to determine if this program will apply for CE credits or other ongoing educational requirements for you.)

Back to top

 
 
Image by Ashley Batz

Apply!

Application Process

Admission requirements

Training is open to adults over 18 years of age, regardless of location, religious affiliation, ethnicity, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Although people from all countries are encouraged to apply, our training will be in English and group events will be scheduled based on North American time zones. If you have questions about specific learning accommodations, please contact us.

Application steps

Fill out the application form to let us know about you and your educational interests. If you'd like to speak with us prior to applying, schedule a consultation session here.

 

We'll reach out within 2 weeks of receiving your application to schedule a short "get to know each other" session and answer any questions you might have about the program. Within 2 weeks after this meeting, we will contact you with an admission decision and to help you finalize your enrollment and desired payment plan.

Application fee

$30 USD; upon acceptance to program will be credited to program cost. If you are accepted to the program, but choose not to enroll, application fee will be forfeited. 

Application deadline

Please apply no later than August 15 to allow time to be onboarded to the program. Depending on capacity, late enrollments may be possible after August 15 with a $200 late enrollment fee.

Scholarships

Reductions in tuition cost may be available for people whose income was less than $25,000 in the last calendar year. Availability of funding is based on current enrollment. Priority is given to people living with disabilities or who identify as within a BIPOC or APIDA community. Please contact us for more information.

Back to top

 

Program Faculty 

Our program is led by the founders of the Compassion Consortium, and also features guest interviews and panel discussions.

Image by Priscilla Du Preez

Hello.
We can't wait to meet you.

Sarah_edited_edited.jpg

Sarah Bowen

As program director, Rev. Sarah Bowen oversees the Compassion Consortium's Animal Chaplaincy Training, and teaches core curriculum.

Read Sarah's Bio

Erika_Allison_edited.jpg

Erika Allison

As lead practice director, Rev. Erika Allison specializes in Interspecies Spirituality and Ritual curriculum components.

 

Read Erika's Bio

COMPASSION CONSORTIUM Victoria Moran ima

Victoria Moran

As wellness facilitator, Victoria Moran specializes in Self-Care components, including compassionate lifestyle development.

Read Victoria's Bio

Picture1_edited.jpg

William Melton

As knowledge facilitator, Rev. William Melton specializes in Interspecies Spirituality and Animal Theology.

Read William's Bio