Edit Page


Adv Certificate in Trauma/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 during the summer. 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 program and who have already completed their first year of coursework or who can demonstrate completion of a graduate-level counseling theories and skills course

Matriculated students enrolled in the SUNY New Paltz M.S. in Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs may take up to three courses towards the Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health while enrolled, with those credits counting towards M.S. requirements. Following completion of their M.S., they may apply for the certificate program and take the remaining two courses to complete the Advanced Certificate.

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.

Admission Requirements

  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. Additional application information for international students.

Please note that letters of reference and GRE scores are NOT required for application to the program.

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 program director Karla Vermeulen, vermeulk@newpaltz.edu.

Application Procedures

Students may apply online or via paper application. 


Curriculum Requirements

Required Courses (9 credits)

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 a Summer Hybrid involving six weeks online and one weekend at the SUNY New Paltz campus.

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 (6 credits)

Choose two:

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 (2017, 2019).

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 (2018, 2020).

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.