Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña

Second Advisor

Clayton Kuklick

Third Advisor

Janine D’Anniballe


Trauma, PTSD, CPTSD, Polytrauma, Trauma education, Trauma education, Trauma pedagogy, Trauma informed care, Trauma etiology, Trauma-assessment, Trauma screening, Trauma treatment, Complex trauma education, Mental health education, Trauma graduate education, Trauma course outline, Trauma focused curricula, Trauma-focused treatment education


During the past four decades, it has become increasingly clear how prevalent trauma, polytrauma and co-morbid trauma-related disorders are within our shared, global communities. A growing body of research continues to uncover the mind-boggling impact these overwhelming experiences have on individuals, their families, and the communities that support them, including mental health professionals. It behooves us as allied mental healthcare providers to learn what trauma is, how it may affect the individual across the lifespan, as well as how to effectively identify and treat the trauma-related symptoms our clients present with. However, despite a proliferation of research demonstrating the growing need for trauma-informed care (TIC), most graduate programs in mental health related fields have not implemented trauma-focused coursework into their curricula. This has consequences for both the availability and quality of care, while raising a host of ethical and moral dilemmas for providers and their respective fields. To address the glaring disparity between the need for TIC and the paucity of trauma-focused pedagogy in graduate schools, many practitioners are forced to seek out their own specialized training in the interest of developing competency and experience. Still others rely on a minimal understanding of trauma, the unique needs of the survivors they work with, and effective treatments, which can be detrimental to both clients and practitioners alike. This paper seeks to reinforce the relevance and growing need for TIC in general practice, while providing an outline for a comprehensive, graduate-level course for student-practitioners in clinical psychology, counseling, medical/psychiatry, and social work programs. It seeks to provide those students with a working understanding of what trauma is, how it impacts the client and the practitioner, as well as how to assess for and treat it utilizing safe, culturally sensitive, evidence-based approaches.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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76 pgs