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Institute for Disaster Mental Health

Graduate Certificate

SUNY New Paltz and IDMH are delighted to announce the official launch of our new Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health, which has just received the final level of approval by the state Department of Education. 

The certificate program consists of 15 credits: three required core courses (Disaster Mental Health; Evidence-Based Assessment and Treatment for Trauma; and Assessment and Interventions with Children, Adolescents, and Families), plus two electives to allow students to focus on populations of interest. Initial elective options will include Assisting Veterans and First Responders; Assisting Special Populations; and Grief, Loss, and Bereavement. 

The program is intended for professionals who have already earned an MA, MS, or higher degree in counseling or social work; and to students who are currently enrolled in Master's- or Doctoral-level counseling or social work programs and who have already completed their first year of coursework or who can demonstrate completion of a graduate-level Counseling Theories and Skills course.

Courses are taught by a combination of SUNY New Paltz faculty members who are affiliated with the Institute for Disaster Mental Health and by adjunct instructors with expertise in treating trauma in specific populations.

For students who are not matriculated full-time at SUNY New Paltz, tuition will be the standard rate per credit hour, which varies depending on semester (summer vs. academic year) and state residency. Current rates can be found here. For New York State residents, each Spring 2015 course will cost $1,296 plus required fees of $300.10. For non-New York State residents, each Fall 2014 course will cost $2,523 plus required fees of $300.10.

The curriculum will include the following courses. All are entirely online with the exception of COU565, Disaster Mental Health.


Required Courses: 9 credits total

COU565: Disaster Mental Health
Theory and research in disaster mental health are studied and activities of disaster counseling are practiced, including American Red Cross trainings that will allow students to be deployed to disasters. Note that this course will be offered in two versions:

  1. Summer Hybrid: Six weeks online plus one weekend on the New Paltz campus.
  2. Fall-Winter International: One October weekend on the New Paltz campus, and one week in Israel in early January, when students will work alongside Israeli graduate social work students on the Ben Gurion University campus in the Negev.

COU561: Evidence-Based Assessment & Treatment of Traumatic Stress
Understanding, assessing and treating traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including the nature and impact of trauma, risk and protective factors, assessing post-traumatic effects, early intervention and PTSD prevention strategies, an overview of cognitive-behavioral treatments, and cross-cultural perspectives. Online, delivered every Fall semester.

COU562: Assessment and Interventions with Children, Adolescents, and Families
The social-emotional and developmental needs of children make them a special population that necessitates specialized training for individuals who will work with children and families. This course will train students to assist child survivors and their caregivers following disasters and traumatic events, especially those events that cause the sudden death of a parent or other loved one. Online, delivered every Summer.


Electives – Students will select two (6 credits total)

COU563: Assisting Veterans and First Responders
This online course will prepare clinicians to engage and treat military personnel and first responders and their families, examining the unique cultural and clinical considerations affecting these populations and using theory and research to identify appropriate treatment modalities. Online, delivered alternate Spring semesters.

COU566: Assisting Vulnerable Populations
Understanding the needs of individuals and groups considered vulnerable prior to, during and after a disaster. Learning to assess needs, understanding the systems already in place, knowing how to access appropriate supports and structures, and an overview of factors that may assist in mitigating the effects of disasters. Online, delivered alternate Spring semesters.

COU567: Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
Understanding and treating reactions to death and loss, especially due to disaster. Topics include attachment, typical and extreme reactions, models of adjustment, death rituals, and grief counseling and other evidence-informed interventions for survivors. Online, delivered every Fall semester.

Information about applying for the program will be posted here soon. In the meantime, if you are interested in receiving information about the program, please email Karla Vermeulen, Ph.D., IDMH Deputy Director and Assistant Professor of Psychology, at

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