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Post Graduate Trauma Certificate











The Post Graduate Trauma Certificate (PGTC) delivers a critical overview of trauma and a deep understanding of neurophysiology, trauma theory, and trauma treatment and how these concepts intersect. The PGTC has been developed for anyone with a master’s degree or higher in fields of social work, counseling, human service and allied health professions who have interest in increasing knowledge and skills to deal with trauma and trauma recovery. This online certificate includes user-friendly, self-paced modules that incorporate videos, voice-over PowerPoint’s, downloadable articles, handouts, and quizzes. The PGTC contains cutting-edge information developed by clinical and research experts in the field of trauma care.

Each module is comprised of 10 Continuing Education Hours as approved by the NASW. Modules may be taken a la carte or in conjunction with one another. To earn the Post Graduate Certificate all three modules must be completed. For a brief description of each module see below. Once the PGTC is initiated, each participant has 1 year to complete the entirety of the Certificate. The cost for each module is $350 and is payable online at the time of registration.

Participants will master important evidence-based information and newly researched material as they earn their Post Graduate Trauma Certificate from the University of Tennessee, College of Social Work. The three modules comprising the certificate are:

• Neurophysiology of Trauma
• Theoretical Perspectives on Trauma Response and Treatment
• Clinical Interventions with Persons Exposed to Traumatic History

Neurophysiology of Trauma

This module explains important content related to the functioning of the brain and peripheral nervous system and how these are impacted by traumatic experiences. The specific topics addressed include genetics and epigenetics, attachment, neuroplasticity, and various types of memory storage, all as they relate to understanding the development of trauma and clinical interventions for trauma survivors.

Module Objectives: Upon completion, participants will be able to

  • Understand basic genetics, epigenetics, neurobiology and hormone activity related to stress
    • Alleles, dominant traits, recessive traits, DNA, chromosomes, genotype, and phenotype
  • Describe and compare theories on epigenetic changes and social work
    • Methylation and chromatin remodeling in relation to genetic expression
  • Explain the impact of trauma on brain development
    • Interaction between environmental conditions and genetic processes as they impact human behavior
  • Explain the impact of stress on brain development
    • Brain development through the stages of growth and life
    • Brain plasticity

Module Outline: Neurophysiology addresses the neurological and physical impacts of trauma on the human person.

  1. Course introduction
  2. Basic Genetics
  3. Brain Development and functioning
  4. Stress and hormones

Theoretical Perspectives on Trauma Response and Treatment

This module covers definitions of trauma, cultural reflections on trauma, and numerous brief explanations of theories that have been developed to understand trauma and traumatic reactions. The specific topics addressed include cognitive models of traumatic reaction, evolutionary approaches to trauma, the distinction between trauma and adverse experiences, and theories such as the Polyvagal Theory.

Module Objectives: Upon completion, participants will be able to

  • Recognize theoretical underpinnings and coping strategies that facilitate the onset and support the maintenance of intrusive memories
    • Evolution of the theories that drive empirically supported trauma treatments
  • Differentiate assumptions of different psychological theories of PTSD in order to apply appropriate interventions that will facilitate recovery
    • Short and long term neurobiological impacts that trauma has across the lifespan
  • Identify neurobiological processes and the implications of trauma on symptoms, behavior, relationships, and health
    • Traumatic events can manifest into problems decades after the experience

Module Outline: Trauma Theory and Neurological Implications of Traumatic Experiences

  1. Course Introduction
  2. Trauma Theory
  3. Trauma Theory (additional lectures-optional information)
  4. Readings on various theoretical perspectives of trauma


Clinical Interventions with Persons Exposed to Traumatic History

This module dives deeply into various treatment interventions and approaches to working with persons exposed to trauma in their developmental history. Lectures and discussions as well as readings about numerous interventions such as psychoeducation, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and emotional processing are included.

Module Objectives: Upon completion, participants will be able to

  • Define essential terms related to trauma treatment
    • countertransference, trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), psychoeducation, bibliotherapy, cognitive interventions, emotional processing, mindfulness, anxiety, and trauma disorders
  • Describe the trauma treatment and recovery process
    • Cognitive distortions, negative beliefs and thoughts, and their alternatives
    • Trauma cycle and ways to break the cycle
    • Acute trauma reactions and reaction patterns
    • Phone apps used to treat trauma
  • Demonstrate the skills of mindfulness practices
  • Identify the signs of secondary / vicarious traumatization
    • self-care, trauma stewardship, safety planning

Module Outline: Clinical Interventions with Persons Exposed to Traumatic History

  1. Course Introduction
  2. Safety Planning
  3. Identifying Trauma
  4. Psychoeducation
  5. Distress Reduction and Affect Regulation
  6. Assessment
  7. Cognitive Interventions
  8. Emotional Processing
  9. Mindfulness
  10. Acute Trauma
  11. Anxiety and Treatment
  12. Case Studies

We, at the College of Social Work, are so glad that you have chosen to learn more about the impact of trauma on the human person. We realize that unresolved trauma in a person’s life is a significant public health problem and we want to be a part of dealing with this issue head on. As researchers and educators, our best tool for dealing with this issue is to share knowledge and skill. We are confident that you will find the information shared in these modules valuable and useful in your own practice of caring for others. If you have any questions, concerns or need for support related to the process of earning your certificate, please do not hesitate to contact us at rschriv1@utk.edu. Thank you so much for being part of the resolution of trauma for others through your important work.