Certificate in Complex Trauma & The Healing Process

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Certificate Program Lead Faculty:

David St. John, PhD

Program Description

The rise of suffering related to traumatic stress has reached epidemic proportions within the United States and internationally. This can be seen through the various national and international disasters, displacement, war, violent crimes, rise of suicides, PTSD, and other forms of human brokenness. As the leading academic institution for humanistic, existential, and transpersonal studies, Saybrook produces creative, innovative thinkers of outstanding scholastic aptitude, which is the perfect stage for providing a unique program to meet the rising need for humanistic and integrative education and training in trauma. This is what makes the Complex Trauma and Healing Processes Certificate program novel, and essential to clinical practice. The Trauma Certificate program provides a whole-person, context sensitive, training to practitioner-learners across the globe while addressing the rising demand for initiating humanistic research-informed education, and conducting cutting edge research and practice.

Curriculum and Training

The curriculum and training is designed to address the gap in education surrounding traumatic stress and effective, innovative healing processes by offering a “first of its kind” program for emerging scholars and practitioners. Our program integrates crucial humanistic understandings of the human condition while providing basic knowledge about the established foundations of trauma, and its intricate, complex, and often tragic impacts upon mind, body, spirit, and culture, with special attention to exploring both conventional and non-conventional healing processes. The curriculum and training also meets the growing interest among practitioners, students, and community members to learn more about the fundamentals of trauma integrated with the humanistic implications it has raised for research and practice in the United States and internationally. The curriculum and training provide learners with a broad and rich understanding of trauma history, theory, research, practice, and cultural implications allowing for a pursuit of a specific area of interest. In addition, students are invited to collaborate with instructors in developing practical opportunities for unique field and research experiences and for scholarly publications, nationally and internationally.

After taking the foundation courses, the student has the task of conducting a final project of writing an integrative research / practice paper. This entails the student synthesizing his or her learning in conjunction with exploring research related to the many crucial issues now arising and impacting our national and international communities and what can be done to mitigate this impact. Examples of focus areas may include (but are NOT limited to) suicide, intimate partner violence, child abuse, cultural displacement, combat and war trauma, loss, meaning, disconnection, innovative healing approaches, and resiliency and prevention factors.

The Certificate is a 16-credit program for non-matriculating students, which includes five 3-credit courses and a 1-credit Integrative Paper.  Matriculating Saybrook students have the option of integrating the 15-credit Certificate program into their existing studies, and need not complete the Integrative Paper.

Core Courses

PSY 3171 Perspectives and Foundations of Traumatic Stress
• Students are given an introduction and exploration of the historical, Western scientific, foundational, and global views of trauma, which is crucial in understanding the broader context of traumatic stress throughout the lifespan. Conventional (e.g., hyperarousal, emotional numbing, and so on) and non-conventional perspectives (e.g., shamanic and indigenous views), are integrated into this richly packed journey of knowledge. Students engage in a highly experiential forum of discussion, clinical case exploration, and writing assignments.

PSY 3172 Trauma: Mind, Body, and Spiritual Dynamics
• Students are provided with an evaluation of the holistic relationship of the healthiness in the context of mind, body, and spiritual understanding and implications for practitioner and client care when affected by traumatic stress.     

PSY 3173 Traumatic Stress within Culture, Context, and the Self
• Students find an in-depth exploration of traumatic stress as experienced and understood across cultures with emphasis on practitioner consciousness in relationship to self and practice. Students engage with rich self-culture-other encounters of traumatic stress through discussion, readings, and weekly reflections.

PSY 3174 Trauma Assessment, Risk, and Ethics in Practice
• Students review standardized measures of trauma assessment with consideration placed upon cultural, gender, age, and other important areas consider in appraising traumatic stress. Risk management to practitioners, such as vicarious trauma and practitioner “limits,” trauma-informed care in practice (e.g., avoiding labels, assumptions), and ethical considerations in practice (e.g., confidentiality, consent, hospitalization, mandated reporting, record keeping, boundaries, suicide, safety planning) and in research (e.g., consent, participant reaction, debriefing assessments, mandated reporting protocols) are reviewed.

PSY 3175 Trauma: Conventional and Non-conventional Healing Approaches
• Students engage in this highly experiential course exploring the global perspectives from Trauma I in relationship to the diverse, broad healing approaches. An encounter with the mainstream (e.g., Cognitive-behavioral, Psychodynamic, Existential-humanistic) and unorthodox (e.g., ritual, ceremony, indigenous practices) is provided with emphasis on trauma-informed, whole-person-culture care. The art of providing safety, stabilization, time for remembrance and mourning, connection or reconnection to self and other.

Integrative Final Paper (optional for matriculating Saybrook students)

PSY 8950 Certificate Integrative Seminar
• This is the cornerstone assignment of the certificate program. The student is given the opportunity to tie together and integrate the most important aspects of the foundation courses by evaluating an identified issue(s) of interest, the individual, cultural, spiritual, and mind-body considerations, barriers, and key factors in assessment and healing as well as the ongoing, presenting / emerging needs in providing further assessment, intervention, and practice. This entails the student synthesizing his or her learning in conjunction with exploring research related to an area of interest among the many crucial issues now arising and impacting our national and international communities. Students will explore what can be done to mitigate this impact, areas to prevent, and promote healing through the integration of traditional and non-traditional practices.  In addition, students will develop and submit a specific plan for continuing personal and professional development in relationship to their work surrounding traumatic stress.

Course Objectives

Learners will:

  • Understand the foundational, historical, cultural, and humanistic perspectives of trauma;
  • Evaluate established and emerging global and cultural theories of traumatic stress;
  • Gain skills and knowledge about empirically supported, evidence-based, practical, and humanistic approaches and non-conventional approaches to healing individuals and groups;
  • Recognize the empirical and subjective experiences of traumatic stress and expressions of trauma throughout the lifespan;
  • Understand the diversity and related implications of group and individual stress reactions to trauma across cultures;
  • Develop an understanding of the assessment process, ethics, and risk management of traumatic stress in practice.