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Community and Trauma Counseling (M.S.)

Program Director: Jeanne M. Felter, Ph.D., L.P.C.

Campus Location: This program utilizes a hybrid delivery system combining classes on campus every other weekend with online course requirements.

Mission 

Born out of growing empirical evidence that trauma is frequently at the root of psychological distress and dysfunction, the Master of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling (CTCP) program aims to develop competent trauma-informed professionals who have the knowledge and skills to work as practitioners, researchers, and policy makers. Consistent with the central mission of Philadelphia University, this program combines a comprehensive, innovative, multidisciplinary and flexible education with an emphasis on a broader societal context. By integrating a specialized knowledge of trauma with a broad base of counseling scholarship and practice, graduates will emerge as versatile professionals in the global community. This program seeks to enhance the professionalism and practice of the field of trauma counseling by encouraging research and excellence in evidence-based practice.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the Master of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling Program will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the highest standards of competency in the knowledge and skills of the professional practice of counseling.
  • Work in a variety of community, agency, and institutional settings, private practice, and government.
  • Communicate with, respect and competently counsel culturally diverse populations.
  • Promote both the counseling profession and personal professional growth.
  • Engage in ethical counseling practice according to the highest standards of the profession.
  • Integrate both the research and practice roles of the profession into their professional careers. 
  • Demonstrate, differentiate and integrate, according to the highest professional standards, a full and comprehensive understanding of mental health, mental illness and disorder, and the counselor’s role in the systemic and individual healing process.
  • Demonstrate and integrate the unique dynamics of trauma, traumatic stress and trauma-related disorders into the full spectrum of counseling education, research, practice and treatment.
  • Understand the role of the counselor within the full spectrum of disaster and emergency response systems and incident command structures for and including private, public and governmental entities.
  • Understand and differentiate the counselor’s role in both disaster and crisis response and long-term therapeutic treatment of trauma-related disorders.
  • Demonstrate competency in crisis counseling and debriefing skills in accordance to the profession’s best practice standards.
  • Understand the impact of disaster, terrorism and other forms of intentional human destruction from both the individual and community perspective. 
  • Demonstrate a competent, professional and culturally sensitive understanding of the diverse responsibilities and roles of the counselor in serving both the individual and the community during times of disaster, terrorism and other forms of intentional human destruction.
  • Demonstrate academic competence and fulfill the academic requirements necessary to pursue membership in appropriate professional organizations such as the American Counselors Association, the National Board of Certified Counselors, the American Association of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.


The above goals and objectives are consistent with the standards set forth by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

Program Description

Professional counselors practice the prevention and treatment of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders and associated stresses that interfere with mental health and normal growth and development. The Master of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling Program provides graduates with the knowledge and skills for trauma-informed practice as community mental health counselors across a breadth of settings including agency and institutional settings, professional private practice, and other environments influenced by traumatic events and extreme stress. 

The program of studies provides a comprehensive 60-credit, 20-course curriculum that can be completed in two or three years contingent on the course load of the student. The two-year progression allows students to complete the program coursework and field placement hours in five semesters. The three-year completion progression allows students to maintain full-time employment while completing coursework during a two-year period and fulfill internship hours during the third year. Both progressions include identical coursework. Graduates from either progression will have met the coursework and practice requirements for licensure in Pennsylvania and many other states.

This program is designed for working students. Courses are delivered through a hybrid-learning format that combines weekend classes and online instruction. Classes meet eight weekends per semester (two weekends per month) on Saturdays and Sundays, and asynchronous online learning will be continuous throughout the semester. 

In addition to the classroom and online learning components of this program, students will be required to engage in two clinical fieldwork experiences. In the first year, students will complete a practicum, where they will spend a minimum of 100 hours developing skills and knowledge within a mental health or school setting. In the second year (for those on the two year progression) or the third year (for those choosing to complete the degree requirements in three years), students will then be required to complete a 600-hour internship. Program faculty will be responsible for placing students in appropriate fieldwork experiences.

Post-Master’s Certificate

The program also offers a 12-credit, four-course graduate certificate for 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. 

E-Learning at Philadelphia University

Components of this program are offered in a flexible online environment. In the online delivery model, the vast majority of this is asynchronous and can be completed on the student’s own schedule provided the student meets the required examination and assignment deadlines.

Program Hardware and Software Requirements

  • Access to a computer with the Windows operating system (Windows 2000, Windows XP or above) and the capacity to hear audio (sound card). Also, a USB microphone is required and webcam capability will be useful.
  • Internet access with high speed connection (DSL, Broadband or cable)
  • Microsoft Office software (Word and PowerPoint)

Admission to the Program

An applicant to the community and trauma counseling program will need to hold a bachelor’s degree, have obtained a grade of B or higher in prerequisite courses listed below, furnish results of test scores from the GRE or MAT, provide two letters of recommendation, and submit a personal essay describing his/her interest in community and trauma counseling as well as qualities and experiences that will enable him/her to be a successful student or practitioner in the field.

Prerequisite Courses Required Credits

  • Abnormal Psychology 3
  • Developmental Psychology 3
  • College-level Math or Statistics 3

Curriculum

Below is a listing of the required courses for the Master of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling. 

Course Credits
CTC-601  Orientation to the Counseling Profession  3
CTC-602  Practicum I- Theory and Practice of Counseling 3
CTC-603  Human Growth and Development  3
CTC-604  Psychopathology  3
CTC-605  Foundations of Trauma Counseling  3
CTC-606  Social and Cultural Diversity 3
CTC-607  Practicum II- Advanced Counseling Theory and Practice  3
CTC-608 Group Work in Community and Trauma Counseling  3
CTC-609 Psychological Assessment 3
CTC-610 Research and Evaluation  3
CTC-611 Career Development  3
CTC-612 Trauma Prevention and Intervention Strategies  3
CTC-613 Attachment, Relationships, and Family Therapy  3
CTC-614 Addictions Theory and Practice  3
CTC-701 Internship I 3
CTC-702 Internship II  3
CTS-651 Neurobiology of Trauma  3
CTS-652 Childhood Trauma and Effects  3
CTS-653 Advanced Clinical Interventions in Trauma Treatment  3
CTS-654 Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Community Disaster and Trauma 

TOTAL CREDITS 60

 

Below is a listing of the courses for the Post-Master’s Certificate in Trauma Studies


Core Courses (Required)

CTS651 Neurobiology of Trauma 3
CTS652 Childhood Trauma and Effects  3
CTS653 Advanced Clinical Interventions in Trauma Treatment  3
CTS654 Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Community Disaster and Trauma  3

TOTAL CREDITS: 12

Insurance Coverage and Professional Affiliation

Students are required to maintain professional organization memberships with the American Counseling Association (ACA). Students will be required to pay for their own membership and must maintain active membership status throughout their enrollment in the graduate program (approximately $93 per year). Students must also have malpractice liability insurance prior to starting clinical field placements. Liability insurance is complimentary to students who have with an American Counseling Association Master’s Student Membership. Program faculty will assist students in securing membership and insurance coverage. 

Students are responsible for their own medical and dental care while enrolled in the program, and for informing the University that they have coverage or they will be automatically placed on the University student health plan. Students may need to submit to, and be financially responsible for, any reasonable health screening that is required by a clinical agency beyond that required by the community and trauma counseling program at Philadelphia University.

Accepted Student Requirements

Students in the community and trauma counseling program are expected to fulfill the following requirements during their student experience at Philadelphia University. 

Participation in clinical and fieldwork experiences is a required part of the curriculum and a requirement for graduation. Many settings require students to be fingerprinted, undergo a drug screening and/or gain clearance from the PA Sex Offender Registry. Students are responsible for the costs of these processes as well as for transportation arrangements and costs associated with fieldwork experiences. Information regarding how to meet these requirements is provided by the program. 

Note: Clinical and fieldwork sites may deny a student's participation in the clinical or fieldwork experience because of a felony or misdemeanor conviction, failure of a required drug test, or inability to produce an appropriate health clearance, all of which would result in delayed graduation or in the inability to graduate from the program.

Students are expected to obtain materials and/or complete documentation required for fieldwork:

  • Health Clearance (by August, New Student Orientation)
  • Annual physical examination (use PhilaU Student Health Medical Record Form)
  • Annual update of immunizations according to fieldwork site requirements
  • Annual proof of active health insurance coverage
  • Legal Clearance: Annual criminal background check (www.CertifiedBackground.com) and annual child abuse history clearance

Accreditation and Certification

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Counseling Examination (NCE) administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Upon graduation from the program and after passing this exam, students will be eligible to be credentialed as National Certified Counselors (NCC). They will receive this credential in earnest upon successful completion and documentation of 3,000 post-masters counseling hours. The NCC credential does not permit a student to engage in private practice, as most states require licensure in order to do so. However, the National Counselor Exam is widely accepted for licensure, and most licensing boards abide by the same educational requirements set forth by the NBCC (all of which are met by this program). It should be noted that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NCE certification examination and/or attain state licensure.

Community and Trauma Counseling Program Academic Standards

The community and trauma counseling program admission criteria are designed to facilitate the selection of candidates who are most likely to succeed both in the University academic environment as well as in professional practice. While the Program faculty is dedicated to assisting students in their professional education, the student also has responsibilities. Students enrolled in the program must demonstrate achievement in academic and clinical competencies necessary for professional practice and meet academic standards consistent with graduate school criteria. Students must also demonstrate effective professional behavior as detailed in the Standards of Professional Behavior (see CTCP Student Handbook). In order to remain in good academic standing, students must meet the following standards. These academic standards are in addition to the University academic standards as described in the Graduate Catalog and on the Philadelphia University website.

Retention and Progression

Grade point average:

  • A minimum overall 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in coursework must be maintained each semester. A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in probation for the following semester.
  • If the semester GPA is below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, the student will be dismissed from the full-time program.
  • A student must attain a minimum overall 3.0 GPA prior to engaging in year 2 coursework and field placements.
  • A student must achieve a minimum overall 3.0 GPA to be eligible to graduate.
  • A student may not receive more than two grades below “B-” while in the program.
  • A grade below “C” (2.0) is considered failing. While the grade of “C” is regarded as a minimum passing grade, it is considered unsatisfactory performance. Students who earn a “C” grade in a core course must decelerate and repeat the course before proceeding in the full-time program (see Deceleration below). Students who are unable to earn a minimum “B” (3.0) in a repeat course will be dismissed from the program. A course can be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a “B” (3.0) grade on the second attempt.

Fieldwork

Students must receive satisfactory reports and evaluations from all fieldwork educators to receive fieldwork credit.

If an unsatisfactory report or evaluation is obtained from a fieldwork supervisor, the student must develop a written plan of self-correction prior to being placed in another fieldwork. A fieldwork may be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a positive evaluation on the second attempt. If a student is reviewed poorly in two fieldwork placements, the student will be dismissed from the program. The decision to permit a student to repeat fieldwork is dependent on a fieldwork supervisor’s verbal or written reports about student behavior with respect to adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct, or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk.

The student must re-register and repeat the fieldwork in order to progress in the program. Repetition of a fieldwork could delay graduation. Withdrawal for medical or personal reasons—and approved by program faculty—will not result in probation.

Probation, Suspension and Dismissal

1. Probation—Students whose academic records include one or more of the following will be placed on academic probation:

  • A student who has a cumulative grade point average below 3.0. for one semester.
  • A student who receives a grade of “C+” or “C“ in any course will be placed on probation for the next semester. Probation for two consecutive semesters will result in dismissal. Probation for any three semesters will result in dismissal.
  • A student who receives verbal or written reports from fieldwork educators indicating non-adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk.
  • A student who violates the Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or ACA Code of Ethics.

2. Deceleration—Deceleration means that the student may not progress in the full-time program. 

  • Students decelerate when they receive a “C” (2.0) or “NC.” Students must repeat courses and earn a minimum “B” (3.0) or “CR” in order to proceed in the program. Students can decelerate once.
  • Since the program is a lock-step curriculum, courses that were not successfully completed cannot be repeated until the following year. A second deceleration results in dismissal.
  • Repeated violations of the Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or ACA Code of Ethics are also grounds for suspension.

 

3. Dismissal—Students whose academic records include one or more of the following will be dismissed:

  • Student fails to meet minimum academic standards listed above.
  • Student receives a grade of “F.”
  • Student fails or receives negative evaluation in two fieldwork courses.
  • Student decelerates once and receives a “C” in a subsequent semester.
  • Student placed on probation for two consecutive semesters or any three semesters. 
  • Student repeats a course and does not earn a minimum “B” (3.0) grade.
  • Student displays egregious conduct that violates professional and/or legal standards, and/or University regulations regarding academic and professional conduct. 

 

4. Re-entry—Students who are dismissed from the program for academic conduct or any other reason are not typically readmitted. In special circumstances, dismissed students may be considered for re-entry. A student who is academically dismissed from the program may apply for readmission only after a period of at least one year. To be considered for re-entry students must have developed and implemented an action plan that would facilitate successful academic performance. 

 

5. Withdrawal—Students who withdraw from the program may have their records reviewed for possible readmission by program faculty. Readmission will be determined by the faculty based on this review and any additional criteria required at the discretion of the faculty. Refer to the University catalog for further information regarding procedures.