Trauma Emphasis

Put Your PhD to Work with Trauma Survivors

Combat veterans. Mass casualty events. Domestic violence. Child abuse. The potential long-term – and immediate – psychological costs of trauma exposure can be catastrophic.

Patients need a fully trauma-informed support team across every healthcare specialty, and the demand for compassionate experts in treating trauma-related psychological issues has always been high.

When you choose an emphasis in Trauma at Palo Alto University, you’ll work alongside researchers, teacher, policy makers, and clinicians to treat patients in crisis and address the growing public health needs.

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Trauma Emphasis Objectives

You will receive specialized education and training in evidence-based assessment and treatment approaches in trauma psychology.

Our prerequisites and trauma-specific courses fulfill the didactive education criteria identified in the New Haven Trauma Competencies.

And your education won’t stop after you earn your degree. You will be expected to demonstrate expertise in this specialty in your commitment to lifelong learning at the post-doctoral level.

New Haven Trauma Competencies

The learning objectives of PAU’s Trauma Area of Emphasis are aligned with the New Haven Core Competencies (Cook & Newman, 2014). These competencies broadly include foundational knowledge, a range of functional skills, and professional attitudes.

Specifically, five areas are important to the specialized education and training needed by clinicians who work with trauma survivors:

  • Scientific knowledge about trauma
  • Psychosocial trauma-related assessment
  • Trauma-focused psychosocial intervention
  • Trauma-informed professionalism
  • Trauma-informed relational and systems

The Trauma Area of Emphasis uses a series of benchmarks to identify and to assess successful attainment of trauma competencies.

Learn More about the New Haven Core Competencies

Risk and Resilience Research Lab Webinar

Risk and Resilience Lab Webinar

Course Requirements

OverviewToggle Accordion

Among mental health professionals, the potential long-term psychological costs of exposure to trauma has long been recognized. Adverse consequences have been well documented by researchers who study combat veterans, people who have experienced mass casualty events (e.g., disasters and terrorist attacks), domestic violence, and adult survivors of genocide, sexual assault, childhood abuse, or car accidents.

In response to the growing scientific literature, there is national support for developing a trauma-informed workforce across all healthcare domains, as evidenced by initiatives undertaken by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Joint Commission.

Recent natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and international conflicts have hastened demand for clinicians with competence in assessing and treating trauma survivors. Alongside clinicians, trauma researchers, teachers, and policy makers who possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to meet growing public health needs are greatly needed.

The Trauma Area of Emphasis provides students with a theoretical, research, and clinical foundation necessary for developing competency in working with traumatized adults, children, adolescents, and their families.

Core CourseworkToggle Accordion

You must complete the core coursework required of all clinical students. In addition, you must complete a series of three required courses (9 units) that focus on trauma psychology.

Trauma core coursework must be completed over the course of two years, [2nd and 3rd] or [3rd and 4th] of the PhD program.

Students should plan their schedules carefully as successful completion of the perquisite CBT course are required for enrolling in the advanced courses. 

Prerequisites:

To enroll in the Assessment and Treatment of Trauma courses, you must complete CBT and the Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology with a grade at or above an A-.

Child, Adolescent and Family Trauma SpecializationToggle Accordion

  • Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology (required prerequisite for the Assessment and Treatment course)
  • Assessment and Treatment of Trauma in Children and Adolescents
  • Elective PAU course with a child or adolescent trauma component*

Although the focus of assessment of this specialization track is on children and adolescents, it also includes adult family members, such as parents and grandparents, who are integral members of the process and outcome.

Adult Trauma SpecializationToggle Accordion

  • Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology (required prerequisite for the Assessment and Treatment course)
  • Assessment and Treatment of Trauma in Adults
  • Elective PAU course with an adult trauma component

Students who elect to complete both the Child and Adolescent Trauma Specialization and the Adult Trauma Specialization may fulfill the elective requirement (i.e., #3 requirement listed above) by completing a single course (i.e., not two courses – one for each specialization track) if aspects of adult and child/adolescent trauma are addressed at some point during the course. No course approval for the selected elective course is needed from the Director of the Trauma Area of Emphasis.

*  Students can take CBT concurrently with Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology course, but not concurrently with the Assessment and Treatment of Trauma courses. CBT and Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology are prerequisite courses that need to be completed prior to taking the Assessment and Treatment of Trauma in Children and Assessment and Treatment of Trauma in Adults courses. 

Palo Alto University Faculty Lisa_Brown
Lisa M. Brown, PhD, ABPP, Professor, Director, Trauma Area of Emphasis, Director, Risk and Resilience Research Lab

Dr. Brown is a tenured Professor, Director of the Trauma Program, Director of the Risk and Resilience Research Lab at Palo Alto University, and faculty advisor for the Association of Traumatic Stress Studies. Her clinical and research focus is on trauma and resilience, global mental health, aging, and vulnerable populations.

Contact Dr. Brown Learn about Risk & Resilience Research Lab (RISE) Learn more about our PhD Clinical Psychology Faculty

Eligibility

All students may take the Assessment and Treatment trauma courses if the prerequisite courses are completed. No exceptions will be made for waiving CBT prerequisite course. 

Students can elect to complete one or both of the Trauma Area of Emphasis specializations in Child and Adolescent Trauma or in Adult Trauma. 

Students can only report completion of the Trauma Area of Emphasis if they have fulfilled all requirements of one or of both specialization tracks (i.e., required trauma courses, trauma focused practicum, dissertation).

With carefully planning, students can complete both specializations if desired.  

 

Additional Requirements

ResearchToggle Accordion

To be competitive for obtaining a top tier internship, you will need to demonstrate excellent writing and statistical skills.

You should be actively involved with a research group that is focused on trauma related projects, and strive to publish papers and give presentations on trauma related topics.

Professional Development Toggle Accordion

You will be expected to actively take part in professional activities. This includes student membership in the American Psychological Association, Division of Trauma Psychology (56) and regular attendance at the Palo Alto University Trauma Journal Club.

DissertationToggle Accordion

Students in the Trauma Area of Emphasis must complete a dissertation that makes a scientific contribution to the field of trauma psychology.

PracticumToggle Accordion

In your 3rd or 4th year, you must complete an official practicum placement (one year of full or supplemental training) in a setting that includes a caseload of patients with PTSD or other trauma-related disorders in which trauma is the primary treatment focus.

InternshipToggle Accordion

Students are required to complete an internship in a setting that includes a caseload of patients with PTSD or other trauma-related disorders in which trauma is the primary focus for at least 33% of the total internship hours.

Learn about internships at APPIC

Completion of the Trauma Area of EmphasisToggle Accordion

Successful completion of the Trauma Area of Emphasis at Palo Alto University is only one component in the education and clinical training necessary to become a competent clinician. Further specialty preparation and development is expected at the pre-doctoral and post-doctoral level as part of a commitment to life-long learning in psychology.

Completion of the Trauma Area of Emphasis will be granted following the completion of all coursework requirements, completion or securement of a trauma focused practicum, fulfillment of internship requirements, and approval of the dissertation proposal by the dissertation committee.

Students who have successfully completed the Trauma Area of Emphasis may apply for a certificate of completion by clicking here.

 

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(800)-818-6136

admissions@paloaltou.edu


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