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Graduate Certificate in Trauma Studies

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Home » Programs » Graduate Certificate in Trauma Studies

Program Overview

In recent years, our increased understanding of the neurological underpinnings of trauma and our greater appreciation for its dramatic impact on individuals, families, and societies have created the need for practitioners possessing both the foundational knowledge and practical skills necessary to work effectively and humanely with trauma sufferers.

The Graduate Certificate in Trauma Studies is designed for graduate-level students, and offers current students and practicing professionals the opportunity to expand their knowledge in this area that is of vital importance to an array of industries, including health care, mental health care, rehabilitation,​police officers, armed services personnel, first responders, and public health.


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Course Details

Program Requirements

  • 10 courses; 20 quarter units

This course introduces students to the biological, psychological, developmental and cultural factors that contribute to stress and trauma and provides an overview of the personal, biological and systemic impacts of trauma. Students will become familiar with the foundational concepts within trauma theory, will examine impressed to stress reduction, trauma management techniques and will explore the concepts of resourcing and resilience. Techniques that will be introduced are progressive relaxation, meditation, mindfulness practices, visualization, autogenic and somatic techniques such as breath work, grounding, movement practices, conscious self-regulation and emotional, spiritual and somatic resources.

This course provides an understanding of the psychobiology and neurobiology of trauma and how to work with trauma within a neurobiological framework. Conceptual distinctions will be made between developmental bonding, developmental trauma, and shock trauma. Guidance will be provided regarding how to address different kinds of symptom presentations from within a neurobiological treatment perspective. Topics covered include: tracking and making contact with sensorimotor experience, pendulation, window of tolerance, hyper versus hypotonic trauma responses, somatic experience, trauma releasing processes, phase oriented treatment, establishing mindfulness, stabilization and resourcing, spirituality and trauma, and models of understanding and treating dissociation and fragmentation.

This course focuses on the specific impact of trauma on healthy attachment and individual development. Impacts of trauma on the developing brain and the repercussions of trauma on human relational development will be explored. Chronic early trauma has an impact on psychological, emotional, sensory and neurological development. This class will identify risks, interventions, and assessments for working with individuals that may have been affected by the early developmental traumas of long-term neglect, repeated abuse and poor early childhood care, as well as situational traumas that may impact or limit natural developmental cycles.

This course will introduce practical approaches for diagnosis, assessment and treatment planning for clients that may be impacted by trauma. Case management, team based care, additional resourcing, goal setting, phase oriented treatment, working with differential diagnosis, co-occurring disorders and resistance will be covered.

This course will familiarize students with existing legal and ethical issues facing clients who have experienced trauma. Mandates to report as well as working with the client to integrate their experiences of trauma will be considered as well as an examination of personal values and biases.

Students will learn to help clients resource, stabilize, process, metabolize and integrate personal and historical experiences of trauma, as well as ongoing challenges with activation. This course will provide maps, models and the development of skills within the Phase Oriented treatment model. Topics covered will include: studying the organization of experience, tracking and making contact with felt- experience, establishing somatic mindfulness, pendulation, coping dynamics, regulating traumatic arousal, framing and assessing, stabilization and resourcing. Models of understanding and treating dissociation and fragmentation, and memory processing will be taught and practiced.

This class will focus on the impact of trauma on the family system from a unification de- unification point of view exploring negative impacts as well as resilience within the family unit. Students will learn the application of systemic theories in the treatment of families in therapy. Focus on full family interventions as well as individual insight into systemic issues will be addressed. Considerations regarding diversity, confidentiality and systemic impacts of trauma will be explored

This course will introduce students to a variety of multi modal art based interventions that can be used in individual, family and group settings to enhance sensory integration, organize narrative responses and find voice in art as healing responses to trauma. This experiential class will introduce a variety of art based tools that the practitioner can use for clients who have acute or long term traumatic histories.

This course will look at the impact of institutionalized racism, bias and marginalization as well as the isolative effects of acute trauma on the client and how these systemic issues can be worked with in a therapeutic session. Issues of diversity, privilege and human potential will be explored. Student’s own cultural identities will be explored as well as issues related to bias and projection.

This course focuses on the experience of the mental health provider in a trauma based practice and ways to work with and through the emotional content of the client toward better self-care and as an antidote to burn-out and empathy fatigue. Students will explore ways they can build healthy boundaries, release the tensions of day and find ways to care for self toward a continuation of long term practice.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Designed for graduate-level students and working professionals
  • Gain a better understanding of the psychological and physiological roots of trauma
  • Develop basic skills in trauma assessment and diagnosis, as well as a wide range of intervention methods
  • Understand different approaches to trauma treatment, including multicultural perspectives
  • Become equipped to deal with trauma-related issues in an ethical, humane, and effective manner across a broad range of clinical and non-clinical settings


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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

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