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Institute for Disaster Mental Health

Graduate Certificate

SUNY New Paltz and IDMH are currently in the process of developing an Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health Counseling that is expected to launch in Summer 2014, pending approval by the State University of New York.

The certificate will consist 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 options will include Assisting Veterans and First Responders; Assisting Special Populations; and Grief, Loss, and Bereavement). The Disaster Mental Health course will require one summer weekend on the New Paltz campus (June 20-22, 2014); all other courses will be entirely online.

The program will be targeted to 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 will be 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 summer course will cost $1,282.65 including all fees. For non-New York State residents, each summer course will cost $2,344.65.

Pending approval, the curriculum will include the following courses.


Required Courses: 9 credits total

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 (May 22-July 30).

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. Hybrid course, delivered every summer: Students will be required to attend one weekend on the SUNY New Paltz campus (June 20-22, 2014), with the remainder of the course online (May 22-July 7, 2014).


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.

Please watch this page for additional details, and if you are interested in receiving information about the program as plans are finalized, please email Karla Vermeulen, Ph.D., IDMH Deputy Director and Assistant Professor of Psychology, at

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