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Community Trauma Counseling Certificate Programs

The CTC program offers 2 certificate options. The Certificate of Advanced Studies in Trauma Counseling is designed for post-master’s mental health professionals to expand their trauma competencies and knowledge. The Certificate in Trauma Studies is a bachelor’s or master’s level certificate for individuals across disciplines and professions who aim to better understand the impact of childhood adversity on development. This program offers advanced trauma knowledge, skills and competencies to promote healing and growth for children and families impacted by childhood adversity.


The program offers a 12-credit, (four-course) graduate certificate for post-master’s level professionals seeking to enhance their trauma competencies, or for those desirous of engaging in additional coursework to meet requirements for professional licensure. The certification also satisfies the interests of individuals already licensed who desire credentialing in the trauma specialty.

CAS Overview

This post-master’s certificate requires a minimum of 128 hours of instruction time (4 courses at 32 hours each; the equivalent of 16 full-day workshops). The four courses are modified versions of current CTC offerings in the weekend program. Assignments, expectations, and assessments in all required courses have been modified for certificate-seeking students. Upon successful completion of four courses, participants will receive an official Certificate of Advanced Studies in Trauma Counseling from Philadelphia University.

CAS Mission

The Certificate Program provides professionals with an advanced understanding of trauma theory, principles, tools and strategies that support trauma-informed practice with adults and children.

CAS Learning Outcomes

Following is a list of Learning Outcomes for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Trauma Counseling.

Professionals who earn a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Trauma Counseling from Philadelphia University’s Community and Trauma Counseling Program will be able to:

1. Understand the impact of trauma on development and neurobiology.
2. Demonstrate competency in the knowledge and skills of the professional practice of counseling.
3. Communicate with, respect, and competently counsel culturally diverse populations.
4. Practice ethically based counseling according to the highest standards of the profession.
5. Demonstrate and integrate the unique dynamics of trauma, traumatic stress, and trauma-related disorders into counseling practice and treatment.
6. Understand and differentiate the counselor’s role in the therapeutic treatment of trauma-related disorders.

CAS Admissions Requirements and Procedures

Professionals who have earned a master’s degree or higher in counseling, psychology, social work, or a related discipline should visit the Philadelphia University Admissions Website to complete the application process:


Prospective students complete the online application for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Trauma Counseling, and must also furnish official undergraduate and graduate transcripts. There is also a small application fee. If you are unable to pay the application fee, please contact the program director (felterj@philau.edu). Please contact Rebecca Fowler (fowler@philau.edu) in Graduate Admissions with any application-related questions.

Credits for Continuing Education

Students in the CAS program will not receive graduate credits for their coursework; hence certificate students cannot transfer these courses if they choose to enroll in the M.S. program. Upon successful completion of each course, students will receive 32 contact hours/clock hours from the National Board of Certified Counselors and/or the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and a Family Therapists and Professional Counselors. Please note: missed classes/tardiness will result in a decrease in contact hours/clock hours.

Projected Duration

Certificate-seeking students must begin in the fall semester with enrollment in Foundations of Trauma (a pre-requisite for all other certificate courses). Students will then enroll in Neurobiology of Trauma and Advanced Clinical Interventions in Trauma Treatment (required) in the Fall semester, and select one additional course from the offerings listed.

Orientation and Advanced Reading

There will be a required orientation during the first hour of the first spring semester class. Additionally, certificate students will be expected to read a few selected chapters prior to their first class.

Course Offerings

The certificate program requires successful completion of three courses that are modified offerings within the current CTC curriculum.

Foundations of Trauma (a modified version of CTC 605), Neurobiology of Trauma ( a modified version of CTC 651) and Advanced Interventions in Trauma Treatment (a modified version of CTC 653) are required of all participants. Certificate seeking professionals choose one additional course from a menu of two modified offerings in the CTC program. Certificate students will engage in class lectures alongside current M.S. students, but will have modified assignments, assessments, and no online requirements. The courses offered are described below (full syllabi will be distributed separately).

Foundations of Trauma Counseling- REQUIRED, 32 contact hours
Fall Offering

Foundations of Trauma Counseling provides an understanding of the phenomena of trauma and human responses, treatment, and recovery.  Discussion includes identifying major types of trauma, effects, assessment, and a survey of clinical interventions.  The neurobiology of trauma and responses is explored, with attention to its relevance to understanding response behaviors and treatment.

Neurobiology of Trauma- REQUIRED, 32 contact hours
Spring Offering
Prerequisite CTC 605CT

Neurobiology of Trauma provides an understanding of the neurobiological processes involved in trauma experiencing, processing, and post-trauma adaptation. Study includes affective neuroscience, arousal modulation, memory processes involved in trauma experiences, executive functioning, and post-trauma adaptation of these and other areas and processes. Discussion examines application of neuroscience to understanding trauma experiencing and treatment.

Childhood Trauma and Effects, 32 contact hours
Summer Offering
Prerequisites: CTC605CT, CTC 651CT

This course provides an understanding of the environmental factors that contribute to and constitute adverse childhood experiences, and the effects on children’s development and subsequent behavior. Discussion will include attachment theory and the influence of attachment on development, historical and contemporary research on adverse childhood experiences and subsequent mental health and illness, and an overview of prevention and intervention, and treatment.

Advanced Clinical Interventions in Trauma Treatment- REQUIRED, 32 contact hours
Fall Offering
Prerequisites: CTC 605CT, CTC 651CT

This course provides a detailed examination of clinical interventions for treating posttraumatic stress disorder. Specific study includes trauma-focused cognitive behavioral treatment of adults and children, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, dialectical behavior therapy, body-oriented therapy, and expressive group processes. Discussion examines evidence-based practices and evaluation of therapeutic interventions.

Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Community Disaster and Trauma, 32 contact hours
Spring Offering
Prerequisites: CTC 605CT, CTC 651CT

Disaster mental health intervention involves unique clinical skills and knowledge. This course will aid in developing the requisite competencies to enable mental health clinicians to successfully help survivors, rescue workers, and other volunteers in the aftermath of a disaster. Topics include the psychological phases of a community-wide disaster, common patterns of immediate and long-term public response, mental health risks that rescue workers and victims face, assessment of mental health needs, as well as a focus on self-reflection and self-care. Course content will align with standards proposed in the Disaster Mental Health Handbook (American Red Cross, 2012).

CAS Program Dates

All certificate courses will be held for 4 consecutive hours (either 8:30am-12:30pm or 1:30pm-5:30pm) on Saturdays or Sundays throughout the calendar year.

CAS Attendance Policy

Certificate students must make every effort to attend all CTC scheduled classes. When possible, students must communicate about absences and tardiness prior to missing class. Students may miss the equivalent of 4 hours per course (one class) without penalty, though missed work must be made up. CAS students must sign in and out for each class. A missed class or tardiness will impact the number of contact hours (NBCC) or clock hours (state board) for the course, as an accurate account is required.

Program Policies

Certificate students are expected to uphold the policies and standards set forth by the Philadelphia University’s Community and Trauma Counseling Program. Relevant policies and standards are provided below:

Classroom Protocol:

With the increasing frequency of communicating via text messaging, the behavior has been increasing in frequency in the classroom. Though we may perceive the behavior as subtle, it is often a distraction to others in several ways. Please practice consideration for others and refrain from text messaging during class time.

Academic Integrity:

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty that involves presenting another person’s ideas or work as your own. Academic integrity requires you to document sources in any written work turned in for credit. Students found guilty of plagiarism are subject to a range of penalties, including dismissal from the university. See the Student Handbook for a copy of the University’s Academic Integrity Policy. If you have questions about when and how to cite your sources, please discuss your questions with your instructor. You may also want to review guidelines for citing sources available on the website of the Academic Success Center (http://philau.edu/SuccessCenter/).


This program is open to professional and paraprofessional students who work with children and families across various settings and disciplines, or to PhilaU undergraduate and graduate students who seek to understand the complex impact of childhood trauma on development. This program offers advanced trauma knowledge, skills and competencies to promote healing and growth for children and families impacted by childhood adversity. The four-course curriculum leads to an undergraduate or graduate Certificate in Childhood Trauma Studies.

CTS Program Mission

Born out of growing empirical evidence that trauma is frequently at the root of psychological, emotional, behavioral, social and academic distress and dysfunction in children, Influencers of Childhood Development: A Trauma-Informed Exploration /The Childhood Trauma Studies Certificate Program is an inter-disciplinary/inter-professional training program that aims to develop competent trauma-informed service providers who have the knowledge and skills to work effectively with children and families impacted by childhood adversity. This program provides fundamental principles of trauma theory and further fosters a sophisticated comprehension of the impact of childhood trauma, allowing professionals and paraprofessionals alike to emerge with an advanced knowledge and skillset to work effectively with children and families in today’s world.

CTS Program Learning Outcomes:

  • As a result of attending all four courses, students will be able to:
  • Recognize the causes, symptoms and behaviors associated with unresolved trauma.
  • Distinguish among varying types of trauma
  • Discuss the myriad of ways to apply trauma-based information, concepts, approaches, principles and skills
  • Analyze and appraise specific situations in which trauma is impacting child development.
  • Formulate strategies, creating and designing approaches that reflect their learning using trauma-focused strategic planning.
  • Describe how to appropriately assess, choose and execute specific intervention plans
  • Demonstrate an awareness and knowledge of their own cultural values and biases.
  • Demonstrate an awareness and knowledge of the diverse worldviews of their clients, and will evaluate, select and employ culturally appropriate assessments and intervention strategies in their work.

CTS Admission Requirements:

Prospective students will be required to provide the following:

  • Writing Sample
  • Official Transcripts (graduate and/or undergraduate) that demonstrate successful completion of Three Pre-requisite College-level Courses
    • One college level English (or Composition) Course (3 Credits)
    • Two (2) courses in Psychology, Sociology, Child/Human Development, or Early Childhood Education

CTS Delivery Modes and Formats

All courses in this program will be delivered in a Lecture format (with experiential/active learning) at an off-campus location easily accessible to individuals employed in Philadelphia and those utilizing public transportation.

Classes will be held at:

One Penn Center (1617 JFK Boulevard)
Suite 1705
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Classes will be held on Thursday evenings from 5:15-8:15pm (following the traditional academic calendar) to allow working professionals and para-professionals to attend.

CTS Curriculum

Four 3-credit courses will be offered. Individual courses will be transcripted. The Certificate will be obtained after completion of 12 credits. No electives, tracks or concentrations will be offered.

The courses will be listed as undergraduate offerings. For bachelor’s prepared students, courses may be cross-listed with graduate-level courses for those seeking graduate credits. For graduate-level courses, additional assignments will exist in all syllabi for those seeking graduate credit.

1. CTC 200/ CTC615: Relating Trauma to Typical Childhood Development (3 credits; REQUIRED)

This course integrates an understanding of typical processes and stages of childhood growth and development with an appreciation for the impact interactions by caregivers can have on the development of healthy/positive physical, intellectual, emotional, social and relational outcomes for infants, toddlers and children. Exploring what can influence positive outcomes opens minds to new awareness that in turn leads to discussions around the potential for negative outcomes, such as those connected with adverse childhood experiences and other forms of trauma. Students will identify and understand some causes of trauma and the impact of trauma on the growth, development and functioning of the brain. Discussion provides an overview of practices that influence healthy growth and development to inspire and inform such practices that can lead to the prevention of adverse experiences in childhood. An additional focus is the preparation for future exploration around the causes and impact of childhood adversity, and appropriate interventions for children and families who have experienced adversity.

2. CTC 202/ CTC 617: The Impact of Trauma in Childhood: Enhancing Trauma Awareness (3 credits, REQUIRED; pre-requisite: Relating Trauma…)
Course Description: This course provides vital information on the causes of trauma, the complexity of trauma’s presentation in children, and the impact of trauma on development. Common trauma-related responses in children will be explored, and suggestions for trauma-sensitive behaviors on the part of professionals and others who serve as caregivers of children will be provided. This course aims to develop a greater awareness of the potential impact of trauma on a myriad of related developmental processes.

3. Applying Childhood Trauma Principles in Practice (3 credits; REQUIRED; pre-requisites: Relating Trauma, The Impact of Trauma…)

This course focuses on trauma knowledge and skill acquisition, coupled with reflective practice to enhance students’ progression toward trauma competence.  Special attention is paid to the application of trauma principles within real-life situations to promote transfer of training.  Prerequisites: CTC 200 and 202, or CTC 615 and 617. 

4. Enhancing Practical Application of Childhood Trauma Principles (3 credits; REQUIRED; pre-requisites: Relating Trauma, The Impact of Trauma, Applying Trauma…)

This course builds upon previous learning in childhood trauma, and expands upon the practical application of childhood trauma knowledge and skills through a practicum approach. Students engage in observations, planning, implementation and evaluation, and participate in Reflective Processing to enhance their development and competence.