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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!

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. All courses are entirely online with the exception of COU565, Disaster Mental Health, which involves one weekend on the New Paltz campus, or one weekend on campus and one week in Israel. The certificate can be completed within one year, or extended to accommodate the student's schedule.

The program is intended for two groups:

  • Professionals who have already earned a Master of Arts, Master of Science, or higher degree in counseling, social work, or a related field
  • 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.

The curriculum includes the following courses. 


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 is 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. (October 23-25, 2015 in New Paltz and January 1-9, 2016 in Israel, including time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Negev, and the Gaza Border. Tuition includes all lodging and most meals; students are responsible for their airfare and miscellaneous travel expenses.)

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 spring 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 (2015, 2017).

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 (2016, 2018).

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.


Costs and application process:

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. While these are subject to change, currently each three-credit course will cost $1,296 for New York State residents and $2,523 for non-New York State residents, plus required fees of about $300 per semester.

Note: It is also possible to take individual courses on a non-matriculated basis if you would like to explore the program or strengthen skills in one particular area. For guidance on registering as a non-matriculated student please email

To Apply:
Instructions for applying to the certificate program can be found at

Applications can be completed online or on paper. Please note that letters of reference and GRE scores are NOT required for application to the program. Requirements do include:

  1. One official copy of transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work.
  2. Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 for all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  3. Successful completion of a graduate-level Counseling Skills or equivalent course.
  4. Completed application form.
  5. Statement of professional goals (approximately one paragraph explaining why you're interested in pursing the certificate).
  6. Resume or CV (only required for applicants who have already earned an MA, MS, or higher degree).
  7. International students must meet additional requirements outlined at

For any questions about the application process, please see the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the SUNY New Paltz Graduate School:

Phone: 845-257-3285
Toll-free: 800-248-8856
Fax: 845-257-3284
When sending an e-mail, please include your first name, last name, the program in which you are interested, and your date of birth.

For any questions about the content of the certificate program, please email program director Karla Vermeulen, Ph.D., IDMH Deputy Director and Assistant Professor of Psychology, at

Thank you for your interest in the Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health!


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