How Long Does It Take to Become a Trauma Therapist?

To become a trauma therapist, you'll need to pursue a four-year degree in a related field such as psychology or social work. After that, you'll need to specialize in trauma therapy in graduate school, which typically takes two to three years. You can also earn a specialty certificate by turning your mandatory continuing education credits into an opportunity to learn more about trauma therapy. To complete the certification, look for a program of certified professionals in clinical traumatology (CCTP) such as those from Trauma Institute International or get a psychology certification in DBT or digital mental health.

In addition, all 50 states require a master's degree in counseling along with supervised work experience and the passing of the state board exam to become licensed as a trauma counselor. As a trauma therapist, your job is to help people develop coping mechanisms to manage their response to memories that they may never forget. Because there are many different types of trauma, trauma counselors practice different treatment options depending on the patient population. A useful approach is to gain knowledge about the well-researched competencies and skills that are required to become an excellent trauma therapist.

Trauma therapists and trauma counselors receive additional training on treatments that have been shown to work with the effects of trauma, with an emphasis on minimizing the onset of stress disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD). Trauma therapists can also find work in organizations such as the Red Cross, which needs professional therapists in times of natural disasters. Another great organization, especially if you want to work with traumatized children, is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The International Association of Traumatology Professionals (IATP) offers a training program that leads to certification.

Receiving support without becoming emotionally involved will be key to your own well-being as a trauma therapist. Trauma therapists can do everything they can to protect themselves from indirect trauma, compassion fatigue, and exhaustion by maintaining their well-being early and consistently.

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