PTSD Counseling Certificate Program Information

Mental health practitioners, including nurses and social workers, may obtain in-depth training in various PTSD treatment methods through a trauma counseling certificate program. Programs are designed for both degree and non-degree seeking professionals, and may lead to national certification in this specialty.

Essential Information

Certificate training programs for the treatment of PTSD may be quite different, depending upon the institution. In general, students are taught assessment, diagnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy treatment skills for patients who have experienced stressors such as military combat, abuse or assault, an automobile accident or a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. Graduate-level psychology programs may offer certificates in conjunction with the degree program.

  • Program Levels in PTSD Counseling: Graduate certificate
  • Prerequisites: Master's degree; current licensure as a mental health care practitioner
  • Program Length: Varies by program from one intensive weekend to 18 months
  • Other Requirements: Hands-on training with patients

Graduate Certificate in PTSD Counseling

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) certificate options train professional counselors to treat individuals who have experienced a traumatic event and suffer from a resulting anxiety disorder. Clinical training programs incorporate classroom lectures and seminars, but much of the training involves hands-on treatment of patients. Additionally, programs may be specific to various types of cognitive behavioral training therapy. Graduates may be eligible to apply for national certification as PTSD counselors. Specific course topics may include, depending upon the program's emphasis:

  • Trauma counseling
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Etiology and assessment of PTSD
  • Assessment and treatment of sleep disturbance
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Assessment and treatment of deployment-related depression

Career Outlook and Salary Info

The employment rate for mental health counselors was expected to rise at a faster than average rate of 29% between 2012 and 2022, according to 2012 data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most mental health counselors have a master's degree, as it is a requirement for licensure in many states. As of May 2014, mental health counselors earned a median wage of $40,850 (

Continuing Education

All licensed mental health counselors, social workers and physicians are required to complete continuing education hours. Additionally, many counselors pursue doctoral degrees. The exception is the field of social work, where a master's degree is generally considered the terminal degree.

Certification options are also available through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Areas of specialization include sexual abuse, domestic violence, bereavement and acute trauma stress management. The programs require completion of an application and examination in the specialty area.

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