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Home › Graduate › Ph.D. Clinical Psychology › Areas of Emphasis › Trauma

Ph.D. Clinical Psychology: Trauma Emphasis

Overview

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.

New Haven Trauma Competencies

The learning objectives of the Trauma Area of Emphasis are aligned with the New Haven Core Competencies (Cook & Newman, 2014). The competencies broadly include foundational knowledge, a range of functional skills, and professional attitudes. Specifically, five areas are delineated as important to master through specialized education and training by those who work with trauma survivors: 1) scientific knowledge about trauma, 2) psychosocial trauma-related assessment, 3) trauma-focused psychosocial intervention, 4) trauma-informed professionalism, and 5) 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.

Objectives

Students enrolled in the Trauma Area of Emphasis receive specialized education and training in evidence-based assessment and treatment modalities used in trauma psychology. The courses required as prerequisites and offered in the Trauma Area of Emphasis fulfill the didactic education criteria laid-out in the New Haven Trauma Competencies. For more information on the New Haven Trauma Competencies click here. 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.

Eligibility – 2nd year Ph.D. students

All clinical students may take trauma courses and acquire trauma-related experiences if prerequisite courses are completed. No exceptions will be made for waiving prerequisite courses. Students can elect to complete one or both of the Trauma Area of Emphasis specializations in Child, Adolescent, and Family Trauma or in Adult Trauma. With carefully planning of their schedule, students can complete both specializations if desired. 

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

Trauma Psychology Area of Emphasis Course Requirements

Students who participate in the Trauma Area of Emphasis must complete the core coursework required of all clinical students. In addition, they complete a series of four required courses (12 units) that focus on trauma psychology. Trauma core coursework must be completed over the course of two years, [2nd and 3rd] or [3rdand 4th] years of the Ph.D. program. Students should plan their schedule carefully as successful completion of the perquisite courses are required for enrolling in advanced courses. 

Prerequisite Coursework

To enroll in required advanced Trauma Area of Emphasis specialization courses (i.e., assessment and treatment courses) the following prerequisite courses must be completed with no grade below an A-:  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology.

Required Coursework  2017 – 2018

Child, Adolescent and Family Trauma Specialization Course Requirements: 

1) Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology (required prerequisite for Assessment course)

2) Assessment of Trauma in Children and Adolescents (required prerequisite for Treatment course)

3) Treatment of Trauma in Children and Adolescents

4) Elective PAU course with a child, adolescent, and family trauma component

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

 
Adult Trauma Specialization Course Requirements: 

1) Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology (required prerequisite for Assessment course)

2) Assessment of Trauma in Adults (required prerequisite for Treatment course)

3) Treatment of Trauma in Adults

4) Elective PAU course with an adult trauma component

Students can take CBT in the fall with Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology or in the winter with Assessment of Trauma, but not concurrently with Treatment of Trauma in the spring

CBT, Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology, and Assessment of Trauma are prerequisite courses that need to be completed prior to taking Treatment of Trauma in the spring

Students who wish to complete both specializations (i.e., Child, Adolescent, and Family and Adult) will need to substitute one of the assessment courses for the elective course and take one additional required advanced course (i.e., treatment). Elective courses are not required for dual specialization. Dual specialization requires 15 units of coursework that include: 

1) Foundations of Clinical Trauma Psychology

2) Assessment of Trauma in Adults

3) Treatment of Trauma in Adults

4) Assessment of Trauma in Children and Adolescents

5) Treatment of Trauma in Children and Adolescents

 
 
1. Research Requirement
Students who want to be competitive for obtaining a top tier internship should possess excellent writing and statistical skills and should strive to publish papers and professionally present trauma-related topics while at Palo Alto University. To fulfill the research requirement, students must have a first-authored trauma-focused manuscript accepted for publication by a journal, or a first-authored trauma-focused poster, paper, or symposium accepted for presentation at a state, regional, or national conference (Note: PRS posters do not fulfil this criteria.)
 
2. Professional Development Requirement
Students who want to be competitive for obtaining a top-tier internship program in trauma should be actively involved in trauma-related organizations and activities at the national and local levels. Recommended activities include: student membership in the American Psychological Association, Division of Trauma Psychology (56) and/or Division 12, Society of Clinical Psychology, Section VII, Emergencies and Crisis; membership in the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies; and regular participation in the Palo Alto University Trauma Club. 
 
3. Dissertation Requirement
Students in the Trauma Area of Emphasis must complete a dissertation that makes a scientific contribution to the field of trauma psychology.
 
4. Practicum Requirement
In their 3rd or 4th year, students must complete an approved practicum placement (one year of full or supplemental training) in a setting that includes a caseload of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other trauma-related disorders in which trauma is a primary treatment focus. As trauma is assessed and treated in a broad array of settings, students who want to specialize in trauma psychology have many different practicum options. A list of practicum with a trauma focus can be downloaded by clicking here.
 
5. Internship
A search of the APPIC site conducted in October 2016 using the terms “trauma” and “PTSD” in the program description resulted in a list of 143 and 62 internship programs, respectively. Students are required to complete an internship in a setting that includes a PTSD rotation, or treating a caseload of patients with PTSD or other trauma-related disorders in which trauma is the primary focus.
 
Completion of the Trauma Area of Emphasis
Completion of the Trauma Area of Emphasis will be granted following the completion of all coursework specialization requirements, completion or securement of a trauma focused practicum, fulfillment of internship requirements, and approval of the dissertation proposal by the dissertation committee.
 
Application Process
Students may apply to the Trauma Area of Emphasis by completing the application posted here. Grades in the two prerequisite courses, dissertation topic, instructor evaluations, curriculum vitae, and overall fit with the program will be considerations in awarding the completion of the Trauma Area of Emphasis.
 
Contact for Further Information
Lisa M. Brown, Ph.D., ABPP
Director, Trauma Program
 

 

 

 
 
 

Contact

1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

Phone: (800) 818-6136 Fax: (650) 433-3888

EMAIL ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION

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