PTSD Counseling Certificate Program Information

Learn about trauma counseling certificate programs for mental health professionals. Keep reading to find out about admission requirements, coursework, certification and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs after a person has experienced a traumatic event and suffers from a resulting anxiety disorder. Mental health practitioners, including nurses and social workers, may obtain in-depth training in various treatment methods through a trauma counseling certificate program. Admission requirements vary, but most programs call for a master's degree and professional licensure. Graduates may be eligible to apply for national certification as PTSD counselors.

Certificate training programs for the treatment of PTSD may be quite different, depending upon the institution. Some are conducted in a short, intensive weekend, while others take place over a period of 18 months. Graduate-level psychology programs may offer certificates in conjunction with the degree program. Students are taught assessment, diagnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy treatment skills for patients who have experienced stressors such as military combat, abuse or assault, an automobile accident or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants to clinical training programs in the treatment of PTSD should be mental health practitioners. Some programs require only a bachelor's degree, but most require a minimum of a master's degree. Common participants include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses. Current licensure as a mental health practitioner, according to local regulations, is generally required to participate in a certificate program.

Program Coursework

Clinical training programs incorporate classroom lectures and seminars, but much of the training involves hands-on treatment of patients. Additionally, programs may be specific to various types of cognitive behavioral training therapy. Specific course topics may include, depending upon the program's emphasis:

  • Trauma counseling
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Etiology and assessment of PTSD
  • Assessment and treatment of sleep disturbance
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Assessment and treatment of deployment-related depression
  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Traumatic effects on brain development and the body

Career Outlook and Salary Info

The employment rate for mental health counselors was expected to rise at a faster than average rate of 36% between 2010 and 2020, according to 2010 data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most mental health counselors have a master's degree, as it is a requirement for licensure in many states. Mental health counselors earned a median wage of $40,080 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education

All licensed mental health counselors, social workers and physicians are required to complete continuing education hours. Additionally, many counselors pursue doctoral degrees. The exception is the field of social work, where a master's degree is generally considered the terminal degree.

Certification options are also available through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Areas of specialization include sexual abuse, domestic violence, bereavement and acute trauma stress management. The programs require completion of an application and examination in the specialty area.

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