How to Get a Trauma Certification

Trauma, either from one-time or multiple repetitive events, affects people all over the world every day, and it affects everyone differently. The impacts of trauma could be unnoticeable, insidious, or just outright destructive.

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) places emphasis on understanding, respecting, and appropriately handling the effects of trauma on all levels.

A trauma therapist’s ultimate goal is to guide patients to process their trauma through a secure and controlled channel. But how do you become a trauma therapist?

Below is everything you need to know about how to become a trauma-informed care specialist and what it means to be one.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma is clinically defined as the emotional response experienced by a person after a single or chronic extreme stressor. This includes:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Childhood abuse
  • War experiences
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents.

Licensed trauma therapists and counselors are provided training on treatments proven to mediate the effects associated with trauma. They focus on minimizing the patient’s risk of developing serious stress orders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD).

Trauma therapy is essentially a specialized branch of behavioral therapy or adolescent therapy. It emphasizes:

  • Understanding and analyzing the trauma to assess and treat the patient accurately.
  • Learning about scientifically proven and strongly recommended treatments for trauma.
  • Repeatedly improving and taking polished courses on the biological and psychological effects of trauma on individuals.

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an approach in the field of human services that acknowledges the major role trauma plays in an individual’s life and recognizes the presence of symptoms caused by the trauma.

Why Get Certified in Trauma-Informed Care?

People might ask why they should get a trauma certification. Other than the benefit of helping people in need of professional help, there are plenty of ways getting certified can help you enhance your career potential, skills, and knowledge.

Enrolling in a suitable trauma course can cultivate your understanding of the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) on the developing brain and how it influences health and behavior patterns. It can also help reduce the risk of secondary traumatization for patients by increasing your self-awareness of personal development.

Benefits of acquiring a trauma certification include:

  • Client Trust: A license or a certification shows your clients that you are trained and experienced in trauma care. It tells them that you are interested in providing the best care possible.
  • Authentication of Knowledge: Even though it’s just a piece of paper, a certificate testifies to your professional and personal achievement of attaining knowledge of trauma and how to treat it. It serves as a measure of your training and dedication to the practice.
  • Field Expertise: It exhibits that you are knowledgeable in leading and current research on the complexities of this mental health field.
  • Higher Professional Recognition: A trauma certification proves you are well educated on the most currently advanced, breakthrough mental health and disorder research regarding trauma. This sets you apart from other clinicians and increases employment and client referral opportunities.
  • Better Insurance Compensation: Managed care organizations are more likely to provide you with favorable consideration from insurance companies.

Principles of Trauma Care

Medical professionals have devised a framework of five guiding principles that explain how service providers and field specialists can reduce the possibilities of re-traumatization.

These principles aren’t to be regarded as a set of practices or procedures. Instead, they should be interpreted and used in ways suitable for the specific type of situation.

The five principles of trauma-informed care are:

  • Safety: Ensuring the patient’s physical and mental safety is the first and most important step.
  • Choice: The second step is to make the individual aware of their rights and responsibilities to give them a sense of control and choice.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration is about providing a significant role to the individual, allowing them to make decisions and share power.
  • Trustworthiness: Trustworthiness can be evident by establishing professional boundaries and clarifying what is expected.
  • Empowerment: Lastly, it’s important to create an atmosphere where the individual feels prioritized and validated to build upon their strengths and create stronger coping mechanisms.

Steps to Getting Certified

The first step to becoming a trauma therapist starts with becoming a certified therapist. For that, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a graduate program. Regardless of the degree, a therapist who acquires training in trauma can become a trauma therapist.

Who is Eligible?

The trauma-informed care certificate is relevant for:

  • Counselors
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Social workers
  • Educators
  • Psychologists
  • Child welfare workers
  • Other behavioral health professionals

The training requirements can vary depending on the program and institute you choose to study from. Most institutions have their application process and course outline on their respective websites.

After successfully completing training, people can apply for trauma certification through the International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP), an NBCC-approved continuing education provider.