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Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate Program

The Trauma Treatment Graduate Certificate (TTGC) program is intended for currently admitted MSSW students entering their year of concentration courses. This program will provide students with the knowledge and practical experience needed to provide trauma informed and responsive interventions.

TTGC students will learn theories pertaining to trauma, along with the neurophysiological responses that individuals experience as a result of chronic stress and fear. They will also learn to identify, critically assess, plan, and treat any traumatic impacts. The larger social, cultural, and political forces that shape both exposure to and recovery from traumatic experiences are also examined. The TTGC is appropriate for students enrolled in both the Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice (EBIP) and Organizational Leadership (OL) concentrations.


The field of trauma has grown exponentially with advances in neurobiology, trauma-specific interventions, and increased recognition of trauma in the general population. Because many populations social workers serve have experienced some form of trauma, it is critical that social workers receive training in working with diverse populations who are affected by wide ranging traumatic experiences, including developmental abuse and neglect, chronic interpersonal and/or community violence, natural or human-made disasters, medical trauma, that experienced during accidents, combat trauma, and refugee violence.

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The rationale for offering a TTGC is to provide students with high levels of theoretical knowledge and specialized skills for working with populations of traumatized individuals. Recent surveys in professional journals as well as by the College of Social Work suggest that professional agencies need these highly specialized skill sets in social workers they hire. Having a Graduate Certificate that confirms the possession of those skills will provide students with greater opportunities for employment and evidence-based work in their field of practice. Employers themselves respond better to structured certification programs that validate knowledge acquisition in that area. The College of Social Work awards a Certificate of Completion to students who complete the required courses and field learning plan assignments related to trauma.


The certificate requires 21 credit hours of graduate course work: 9 elective credit hours specifically designated as trauma specific and 12 credit hours in a trauma-specific field placement (i.e., a placement in which more than half of the student’s time is spent working with traumatized clients client systems).

More specific requirements of the TTGC are as follows:

Trauma Electives (9 hours)

All TTGC students must take SW531 Trauma Theory and Practice, as an elective. This course provides fundamental knowledge and theory regarding different types of trauma, including its neurobiology, as well as exposure to many different evidence-based interventions. All TTGC students must also complete two more trauma-specific elective, as listed below, for a total of 9 credit hours.

  • Two of the following TTGC electives:
    • SW529 – Military Social Work Practice
    • SW533 – Trauma Treatment for Adults
    • SW534 – Trauma Treatment with Children and Adolescents
    • SW535 – School Social Work
    • SW564 – Substance Use Disorders

Field Practice (12 hours)

12 credit hours in a concentration MSSW field placement where student learning plans will include assignments related to trauma.

Application Standards/Procedure

Students will receive information about the certificate program at the time of their admission to the MSSW program.

To be admitted to this program, students must

  • Meet the Graduate Admission requirements for a certificate program.
  • Submit a departmental application at the time of their admission to the MSSW program and agree to program requirements. The application includes a brief personal statement describing 1) their reasons for participating in the certificate program, 2) their professional career goals, and 3) acknowledgement that they understand there are additional credit hours to be taken beyond the credits required for the MSSW.
  • Students selected for admission must be formally admitted to the certificate through the Office of Graduate Admissions

For questions regarding the Trauma Treatment Certificate Program, please contact:

Allison Diehl

Allison Diehl
Trauma Certificate Chair
Office: Polk Ave. Building Rm 264
Campus: Nashville
Phone: (615) 256-1885