The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Certificates and Licensure Programs


Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate Program

The Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate (TTGC) program is intended for currently admitted Social Work masters students entering their year of specialization courses. This program will provide students with the knowledge and practical experience needed to provide trauma-specific interventions and trauma-informed programming and policy development.

TTGC students will learn basic content, including the neurobiology of trauma, learn to critically assess conceptualizations of trauma and traumatic impact, apply current principles of intervention and program planning, and consider the larger social, cultural and political forces at work which shape both exposure to and recovery from traumatic experiences. The TTGC is appropriate for students enrolled in both the Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice (EBIP) and Organizational Leadership(OL) specializations.


The field of trauma has grown exponentially with advances in neurobiology, trauma-specific interventions, and increased recognition of trauma in the general population. Because many populations social workers serve have experienced some form of trauma, it is critical that social workers receive training in working with diverse populations who are affected by wide ranging traumatic experiences, including developmental abuse and neglect, chronic interpersonal and/or community violence, natural or human-made disasters, medical trauma, that experienced during accidents, combat trauma, and refugee violence.

This video was developed by Michael Sullivan-Tibbs as a DSW student, with assistance from Fabian Matthews and his studio, Spotlight Productions, in Memphis, TN. (Parts of this video were created by Amerra: Advanced Medical Communication. Amerra is a Houston-based medical visualization company. )

The rationale for offering a TTGC is to provide students with high levels of theoretical knowledge and specialized skills for working with populations of traumatized individuals. Recent surveys in professional journals as well as by the College of Social Work suggest that professional agencies need these highly specialized skill sets in social workers they hire. Having a Graduate Certificate that confirms the possession of those skills will provide students with greater opportunities for employment and evidence-based work in their field of practice. Employers themselves respond better to structured certification programs that validate knowledge acquisition in that area. The College of Social Work awards a Certificate of Completion to students who complete the required courses and trauma-focused field placement.


The TTGC is facilitated by full-time faculty members who have extensive training, practice, and research experience in the field of traumatic stress.

Rebecca Bolen, PhD, is chair of the TTGC program. For information about admission into the program email:

Application Process

During the fall semester, TTGC applications are distributed to students in their generalist year. For applying Advanced Standing students, applications will be sent out with the Letters of Acceptance. Applications are brief, including a personal statement describing reasons for wanting to participate in the program; tentative trauma-focused elective courses the student would like to take; and other relevant information. Students are selected into the certificate program in the order in which their applications are received. The TTGC program is popular but is restricted to 25 students in each program (Knoxville, Nashville, online) so that we can properly serve students in this certificate program. Further, we reserve 7 spots for each program for Advanced Standing students. Therefore, it is recommended that interested students get their applications in as soon as possible. It the positions for any program are full, students will be placed on a wait list.


The certificate requires 12 hours of course work subsumed within the student's EBIP or OL degree program. These courses include: 6 elective hours specifically designated as trauma specific, 3 selective hours with one assignment in the course on a trauma-specific topic, 3 specialization course hours (6 for OL students) with one assignment in the course(s) on a trauma-specific topic, and 12 field placement hours in a trauma-specific setting. Other courses may, with the permission of the TTGC Chair, be substituted for the trauma electives.

More specific requirements of the TTGC are as follows:

  1. TTGC students are required to complete an online training for Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) prior to the start of their specialization year work. It can be found at Students must submit the certificate of completion to the TTGC Chair via Ms. Jennifer Scagnelli (
  2. All TTGC students must take SW531 Trauma Theory and Practice, as an elective. This course provides fundamental knowledge and theory regarding different types of trauma, including its neurobiology, as well as exposure to many different evidence-based interventions. All TTGC students must also complete one more trauma-specific elective, as listed below, for a total of 6 credit hours.

    Trauma-specific electives:

    • SW531 - Trauma Theory and Practice (required) (3 credit hours)
    • SW533 - Treatment of Trauma (3)
    • SW540 - Disaster Management & Trauma-Informed Systems (3)
    • SW529 - Military Social Work Practice (3)

  3. Both the selective and specialization courses must include a trauma-focused assignment approved by the TTGC Program Administrators (Dr. Becky Bolen, Knoxville; Ms. Sarah Keiser, online; Ms. Ashley Childers, Nashville). This is not an extra assignment but instead applies a trauma focus to one of the courses required assignments. TTGC students will work with their instructors to identify an appropriate assignment for each class. For approval of the assignment, please email Ms. Jennifer Scagnelli, who will forward it to the appropriate Program Administrator.
  4. TTGC students are required to get approval for, and then attend, online trauma-focused presentations each semester totaling 3 hours in length. Students may use the free webinars at the Learning Center associated with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (, or may substitute these with their own choice of face-to-face or online presentations/workshops. For approval, please email the choice(s) to Ms. Jennifer Scagnelli, who will forward them to the Program Administrators. Presentations for the first semester must be clinical in orientation, and macro in orientation for the second semester. Students must submit the certificate of completion to the TTGC Chair via Ms. Jennifer Scagnelli (
  5. TTGC students are required to elect a second year field placement in which more than half of their work is with and/or on behalf of populations experiencing trauma. Students will work with their field coordinator to apply for these placements. The student's field learning plan must include trauma-specific learning goals.

Application Deadlines

For continuing UTCSW students entering specialization year—February 1

For newly admitted AS students—Two weeks after receiving acceptance letter

Students will be notified approximately 2-3 weeks after the application deadline.

More Information

Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate Presentation (pptx)

Article from Fall 2013 Stimulus



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