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The Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate (TTGC) program is intended for currently admitted MSSW students entering their year of concentration 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) concentrations.



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.

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 certificate requires 27 credit hours of graduate course work: 9 elective credit hours specifically designated as trauma specific, 3 selective course credit hours with one assignment in the course on a trauma-specific topic (for OL students, this assignment will be done in an additional concentration course), 3 concentration course credit hours with one assignment in the course on a trauma-specific topic, and 12 credit hours in a trauma-specific field placement (i.e., a placement in which more than half of the student's time is spent working with traumatized clients client systems). All graduate certificates require 3 credit hours (1 course) over and above that which is required for the MSSW program.

More specific requirements of the TTGC are as follows:

  1. 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 two more trauma-specific elective, as listed below, for a total of 9 credit hours.

    Trauma-specific electives:

    • SW531 - Trauma Theory and Practice (required) (3 credit hours)
    • SW533 - Trauma Treatment for Adults (3)
    • SW540 - Trauma Treatment with Children and Adolescents (3)
    • SW529 - Military Social Work Practice (3)
  2. Both the selective and specialization courses must include a trauma-focused assignment approved by the TTGC Program Administrators (Dr. Phyllis Thompson, Knoxville; Prof. Ashley Childers, Nashville; Prof. Nicoll Hannaway, Online). This is not an extra assignment but instead applies a trauma focus to one or more of the courses' required assignments. TTGC students will work with their instructors to identify an appropriate assignment for each class. After you have received approval from your professor for your adapted assignments, send to your TTGC administrator/major professor a brief overview of the assignment you will be completing, how much it is worth, and how it will directly focus on trauma. Your TTGC administrator must approve your topic prior to your completion. After it is graded, upload the final graded copy of the assignment to Canvas.
  3. 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 Program Administrator the speaker information, session description and learning outcomes, and the length of time of the session. Presentations for the first semester must be clinical in orientation, and macro in orientation for the second semester. Students must upload their certificate(s) of completion to the Canvas web site.
  4. 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 Process

TTGC applications are distributed to students in the fall of 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. If the positions for any program are full, students will be placed on a wait list.


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.



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