Online Crisis & Trauma Counseling Certification Programs

May 28, 2020

Overview of Online Crisis & Trauma Counseling Certification Programs

When it comes to earning certification in crisis and trauma counseling online, there are a few things to watch out for. First of all, there is no singular association dedicated to certifying crisis and trauma counselors; there is a variety. Secondly, there are several online certificate programs in trauma and crisis counseling, but these do not all lead to certification. Lastly, the titles of each certification can differ; a few examples of certification titles include Certified Trauma Professional (CTP), Certified Trauma Treatment Specialist (CTTS), and Crisis Intervention Counseling.

However, it is possible to earn trauma and crisis counseling certification online by completing an approved certification program. Associations such as the International Association of Trauma Professionals or the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists, among others, offer resources for those individuals who wish to pursue certification. The programs offered by these associations may be directly through their website or through a third-party source, such as an approved college. These programs can vary in content and number of courses, but a commonality between them is that they are typically designed for individuals to complete at their own pace. Most are available online.

Trauma and Crisis Counseling Certification Program Requirements

Each association that offers this type of certification and relating programs may have different requirements. For example, some associations require candidates to enroll in a membership with the association in addition to education and professional requirements. In general, individuals must either have relative postsecondary education and/or professional experience in fields that regularly deal with trauma and crisis situations, such as counseling, psychology, social work, nursing, or disaster response, among others.

Trauma and Crisis Counseling Course Content

While the content of each program can vary, most trauma and crisis counseling certification programs teach students about trauma, where it can stem from, and how to treat it, both in the short and long terms.


An assessment course teaches students how to examine affected individuals to determine what type of trauma or traumatic disorder they are experiencing and what treatment they may need. Students can learn evidence-based methods for intervening and assessing individuals of all age groups.

Characteristics of Trauma

A course in the characteristics of trauma teaches students about where trauma can come from, the definition of a traumatic event, and the effects it can have on the brain and body. Students can learn how to differentiate the signs and symptoms of traumatic stress from other disorders and how it acts over the course of time.

Traumatic Stress Disorders

Courses in Traumatic stress disorders might help students understand how to identify it, how it plays a role in other disorders and how to develop plans of treatment. They might also look at vicarious traumatization, compassion fatigue, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Additional Information and Requirements

Requirements for certification can vary, but a few additional ones can include:

  • Completing a certain amount of training hours
  • Completing a course with a minimum score, such as 70%
  • Receiving a certificate and sending it to the association

Re-certification is also possible and can be done using online continuing education courses provided by these associations.

Careers That Can Benefit from Trauma & Crisis Counseling Certification

There are several careers where certification in trauma and crisis counseling can benefit both the employee and the people they are working with. It's important to note that certificates and certifications aren't the only requirements for these positions; most require a degree and/or a license. However, certification can demonstrate expertise in the field and may help professionals advance their careers.

Social Workers

Social workers assist people with struggles that can threaten their well-being, such as a lack of basic necessities or the means to get them, mental health, abuse, housing, and unemployment. There are several types of social workers that help all types of populations with varying problems. Clinical social workers commonly help people who have been through trauma or difficult situations and can provide counseling. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual pay for social workers was $50,470, and jobs in the field are expected to grow by 11% from 2018-2028.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists provide counseling for individuals, couples, and families to help them navigate their relationships as well as any difficult situations, negative thoughts, and harmful behavior patterns. They commonly use cognitive behavior therapy to help patients replace negative thoughts and behaviors with positive ones. The BLS stated in 2019 that the annual median pay for marriage and family therapists was $49,610. The profession is expected to grow by 22% from 2018-2028.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors treat individuals, couples, families, and groups who are dealing with mental disorders such as depression, grief, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Their treatment can also include addressing mental, emotional, or relationship problems. The BLS states that the field of substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health counseling is expected to grow by 22% from 2018-2028, which is much higher than the national average of 5%. According to Payscale, the average salary for mental health counselors as of May 2020 is $42,030.

There are different types of trauma and crisis counseling certifications available; many approved programs can help professionals work toward them. These certifications can benefit professionals in several fields including mental health counselors, marriage therapists and social workers.

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