Trauma is ubiquitous (Beck & Sloan, 2012: Brown et al, 2011; Solomon & Johnson, 2002). Beck and Sloan (2012) reported that the vast majority of United States residents have experienced one or more posttraumatic stress disorder-level events as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (5th ed). Additionally, the persistent negative physical and psychological consequences of traumatic stress is a growing public health concern (Lupien, Mc Ewen, Gunnar & Heim, 2009). Nonetheless, there remains a paucity of training about posttraumatic stress in graduate counselor education programs (Courtois & Gold, 2009; Layne et al, 2014; Litz & Salters-Pedneault, 2008; Logeran et al, 2004). Since counselors working in a variety of mental health settings will likely be working with survivors of trauma, it is imperative that their training include foundational trauma knowledge and trauma-competent clinical skills (Layne et al, 2014). Standardized trauma-based curriculum to inform the education of professional counselors have yet to be integrated into graduate training despite the fact that researchers report high trauma-exposure rates among United States residents (Courtois, 2009). Further, trauma counseling competencies to inform the education of trauma counselors have yet to be identified (Layne et al, 2014; Mattar, 2010; Turkus, 2013). This study addressed these gaps in the literature using Qualitative Content Analysis (Schreier, 2012) to examine the experiences of thirty-nine trauma-competent mental health professionals. Participants with advanced counseling skill who scored in level 3 or 3i on the Supervisee Levels Questionnaire-Revised (McNeill, Stoltenberg, & Romans, 1992) were included in the data analysis. Authors developed trauma competencies, including intervention objectives and practice elements (Layne et al, 2014), based on the derived categories and subcategories emerging from the data. These trauma competencies are consistent with the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma training tool (Layne et al, 2014) as well as the New Haven Trauma Competencies (Cook & Newman, 2014) and include trauma-informed attitudes and beliefs, knowledge and skills essential to trauma competency.

Full article:

Competencies in trauma counseling: A qualitative investigation of the knowledge, skills and attitudes required of trauma-competent counselors. Dissertation, Melinda Paige, Georgia State University, 2015.

Although the scientific literature on traumatic stress is large and growing, most psychologists have only a cursory knowledge of this science and have no formal training in, nor apply evidence-based psychosocial treatments for, trauma-related disorders. Thus, there exists a clear need for the development and dissemination of a comprehensive model of trauma-focused, empirically informed competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitudes). Therefore, the New Haven Competencies consensus conference was assembled. Sixty experts participated in a nominal group process delineating 5 broad foundational and functional competencies in the areas of trauma-focused and trauma-informed scientific knowledge, psychosocial assessment, psychosocial interventions, professionalism, and relational and systems. In addition, 8 cross-cutting competencies were voted into the final product. These trauma competencies can provide the basis for the future training of a trauma-informed mental health workforce.

Full article:

A consensus statement on trauma mental health: The New Haven competency conference process and major findings. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy © 2014 American Psychological Association 2014, Vol. 6, No. 4, 300 –307

Other Resources

The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Free Resources

The National Center for PTSD


American Psychological Association Trauma and Abuse Videos

American Psychiatric Association