3. TRAUMA THERAPY REQUIREMENTS, SALARY & EXPERIENCE.
Earn a Bachelor’s degree.
Specialize your education.
Earn a Master’s or Doctorate.
Decide if you want to open a private practice.
The first step on how to become a trauma therapist begins with becoming a certified therapist. Before anything else, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree then eventually complete a graduate program. The two main types of graduate academic programs are a master’s program or a doctoral program. Regardless of degree, a therapist who receives training in trauma therapy can become a trauma therapist.
Understanding what type of therapy you want to practice allows you to apply to graduate programs with a niche in mind. For instance, an art therapist needs to graduate from an accredited art therapy program and needs to decide before applying to graduate programs. Meanwhile, an aspiring trauma therapist who wants to work with children should earn a graduate degree in developmental or child psychology.
Overall, an aspiring trauma therapist should look into a clinical psychology degree that works for them with a program specialization in trauma training. If you already earned a degree, turn your mandatory continuing education credits into an opportunity to secure a specialty certificate. To complete certification, search for a certified clinical trauma professional (CCTP) program like these from Trauma Institute International. Or earn a psychology certification in DBT or digital mental health to strengthen additional skills that are valuable to trauma therapists.
If you want to be a private practice therapist, additional requirements involve earning your license and completing supervision hours with a practicing professional. All therapists can expect to spend somewhere between 2,000-4,000 hours under the supervision of a licensed professional during their career.
Salary ranges are higher for therapists who own private practices. Therapists who earn certifications and those with additional years of experience also earn higher salaries. Depending on the state, the average trauma therapist makes about $76,704 on average per year, according to ZipRecruiter. To set accurate therapy prices, do market research to see how many sessions and salaries are in your area.
Trauma Counseling Degrees Consider a featured online psychology program currently taking applications.
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Prepare to Become a Trauma Counselor
People that have experienced trauma can have significant symptoms of trauma. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, or grief are common. Those who have experienced trauma often need support from professionals. Trauma counselors have trained experience to help support those who have experienced trauma.
There a number of psychology programs to choose from in both the online and traditional setting. You will want to find the degree that best suits your goals. In addition, be sure to check your state for specific licensure requirements to practice as a trauma counselor.
Who Should Pursue a Degree in Trauma Counseling?
With a Trauma Counseling degree, you can work with people to heal from traumatic events. This type of psychology degree includes identifying traumatic events, finding methods of acceptance for their past experiences, and developing healthy coping mechanisms that can be beneficial for future health. Trauma counselors work with individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Trauma counselors help identify traumatic events, process trauma, and find healing in trauma. Professionals within this setting provide healing for individuals who have experienced trauma.
Trauma Counseling Degree Programs
Each of these options can allow you to explore the field of Trauma Counseling from an intuitive perspective, which allows for further learning and understanding along the way.
There are different options towards earning a Trauma Counseling degree. Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and later specializing in Trauma is a common route. It is often required for Trauma Counselors to obtain a master’s degree. Some professionals choose to initially pursue a general Masters in Counseling program and pursue certification later, while others located Masters in Counseling Psychology programs with focus in Trauma Counseling from the beginning. You may have a plan in mind that can set you on track for success. Regardless of which route you choose, you should gain the same level of experience within both areas along the way.
Bachelors in Counseling
Bachelor’s degree programs in counseling are ideal for new students interested in learning the foundation of psychology. In these undergraduate programs, students can expect to learn about the history of psychology. Foundations of psychology are also discussed during program coursework. General education courses are also required through Trauma Counseling Bachelor’s programs.
Master’s Degree in Trauma Counseling
At the masters-level, students can choose to pursue a general Master’s in Counseling. Students can also choose a more specific Master’s in Trauma Counseling program. The Master’s in Counseling program includes a wide range of coursework in psychology. Trauma Counseling programs focus on coursework specific to trauma. Trauma Counseling and Counseling programs both prepare students to become Trauma Counselors. Students can also take part in supervised internships as part of their masters program specific to their interests.
PhD/Doctorate in Trauma Counseling
Students that desire more education in counseling may find Ph.D. or Doctoral programs in Counseling more attractive. The Ph.D. program is for students interested in changing Trauma Counseling from a research or educational perspective, while the Doctorate in Trauma Counseling may focus primarily on the practical aspects of counseling services within the specialization.
Certification Programs in Trauma Counseling
If you already have a degree in Counseling or Psychology, certificate programs are available. Trauma Counseling certificate programs extend one’s capabilities as a professional in this field. Courses within these programs focus on trauma and its interference with mental well-being. Certificate programs are shorter in duration than degree programs. They can also add more expertise to your professional resume.
Trauma Counseling certification programs typically require students to have a Master’s Degree. These programs are often 1-2 years, and about 12 to 15 semester credits. Many programs offer an online format. Students have the flexibility to choose part-time or full-time student status.
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Specialized Courses in Trauma Studies
Degree programs for Trauma Counseling contain elements of counseling, as well as trauma courses. Students learn about the impact trauma can have on the human body. Trauma Counseling coursework consists of many specialized courses. A few examples of specialized courses are listed below.
- Crisis Management
- Vicarious Trauma
- Trauma Response
- Developmental Trauma
- Trauma Foundations
Trauma counselors work with those who have experienced any traumatic event. Specialized knowledge is important for trauma counselors to provide effective support. Specialized knowledge helps provide treatment to individuals struggling with the effects of trauma.
Accreditation to Look Out For
Accreditation in Trauma Counseling programs is important. Many state licensure requirements include obtaining a counseling degree from an accredited program. One of the largest accreditation organizations is CACREP. Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) provides accreditation to many programs. You can search for program accreditation on their website BLS.
Scholarships for Trauma Counseling Degrees2
There are scholarships available for students who are apart of a Trauma Counseling program. Scholarships are available at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctoral level. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers scholarship options for students. You can find those options here BLS.
There are more options from top organizations including The American Psychological Foundation (APF). You can find more scholarship details, and the link to apply here BLS.
Earning Potential of a Trauma Counselor
Trauma Counselors assist people when they are in vulnerable positions. This meaningful career can influence the quality of life for the individuals seeking support. It is also important to learn about earning potential within Trauma Counseling.
Earnings for Trauma Counselors depend on many factors. Factors such as location, setting, and experience may impact earning potential.
The information provided below was gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This information is representative of real counselors currently working throughout the United States.
- Counselors – Individual Services: $41,920 on average per year(BLS)1
- Counselors – All Other: $47,600 on average per year(BLS)2
Career Outlook for Trauma Counselors
Professionals learn more about the effects of trauma on mental and emotional development. The effects of trauma impact all ages, and research is progressing each year on trauma and the human body. This knowledge can help shape how Trauma Counselors engage in their everyday work. The need for Trauma Counselors is an ongoing need. The growth rate for Counseling and Mental Health is 23%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS.
In the future, you may see an increase in demand for professionals in this field. More people acknowledge their own traumas and search for relevant supports. Trauma Counselors are integrated into fields that influence personal development. Fields such as medical settings and educational facilities seek out Trauma Counselors.
Trauma Counselor’s Working Environment
Trauma Counseling may be rewarding for students interested in making a profound difference. The work performed in the field can be life-changing for people seeking mental health support. Responsibilities of Trauma Counselors may look different depending on location and position. The end result of each position is often similar if not the same.
Trauma Counselors help clients identify traumatic events. These events have often shaped their thinking, responses, and emotions. Acceptance and healing are two important goals that are often worked on during trauma counseling. A wide range of techniques are used to achieve this goal. Students in Trauma Counseling programs learn theories and techniques specialized for trauma therapy.
Counselors within this degree specialization can work in many settings. Social service agencies, retirement homes, schools, medical facilities, and non-profit organizations are included. Specific groups can be sought out by Trauma Counselors as well. If you are interested in working with a specific group, it may be helpful to research if your group of interest is looking for Trauma Counselors.
Skills and Attributes Preferred in Trauma Counselors
Working with clients that have experienced trauma may require a unique set of skills. Working with survivors of trauma can be challenging. You may want to ensure that you ready to manage the challenges and emotions that come with trauma work.
We’ve listed some of the well-known characteristics of Trauma Counselors. These can be beneficial for those interested in being a part of this field. See if any of these traits are similar to how you would describe yourself.
- Willingness to Follow Client Lead
- Attention to Detail
- Client Centered
- Emotional Strength
Steps to Becoming Licensed in Trauma Counseling
Licensing in Trauma Counseling can be a long and time consuming process. Each state has their own expectations for counseling licensure. It is important to review what your state requires before making educational decisions. The steps to achieve your license contain little room for modification.
The degree level required for licensing in counseling is a Master’s degree. Listed below are some of the most common steps for getting licensed in Trauma Counseling. You may want to think about accreditation and experience requirements within each step. This may help you make the right decision about your path to success.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Counseling, or Trauma Counseling is important. This first step will provide students with a foundation for advanced degrees later on. A Bachelor’s degree is also required to earn a Master’s degree. This step not only educates students on the foundation of psychology, but provides a wide range of coursework.
Step 2: Earn a Master’s or Doctoral Degree
The Masters in Counseling is the general minimum standard for professionals interested in becoming licensed in their future. Whether its 2-3 years in a masters program or 3-5 in a doctoral program, you can use your degree to find meaningful careers in counseling after completion. There are plenty of doctoral programs that can also help you gain the skills necessary for success in the field, so the degree program you choose is really a matter of preference. You should be sure to check the accreditation status of your program since this is often required for licensure in each state.
Step 3: Take Part in Field Training
During and after your degree program, you can expect to take part in a supervised work experience requirement to help extend your capabilities as a professional Trauma Counselor. These requirements can also vary depending on which state you live in, with most states requiring 3,000 – 4,000 supervised hours under a licensed counselor. This can translate to around 2-3 years for most students.
Step 4: Successfully Pass the Exam
Before you apply for your license, you must receive proper certification. After applying for your certification, you can take the National Counselor Examination in order to test your abilities and knowledge in the field. When you pass this examination, you can move forward to apply for a counseling license in your state.
Step 5: Apply for Your License
Each state may have varying processes for becoming licensed. In general, you submit an application with proof of degree completion, supervised experience, and certifications to your state’s licensing office. Some states also implement a short and standard law examination prior to approving your for practice in their state.
Professional Organizations for Trauma Counselors
The American Counseling Association
Finding support as a new Trauma Counselor can be best achieved by joining professional agencies such as the American Counseling Association. This organization can be great for counselors interested in learning about advancements in their field, new technologies, and methods for success with diverse groups.
The American Mental Health Counselors Association
Mental health organizations could be an option for you to consider when working as a Trauma Counselor. The American Mental Health Counselors Association brings together Counseling professionals. Counselors from diverse settings work together to coordinate new methods for working with people from all age groups, group activities to assist with networking, and partnerships for field advancement.
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
If you want to make sure that you are taking all of the right steps as a student in Trauma Counseling, you should seek out information from the NBCC. This credentialing agency sets the standard for upcoming counseling professionals interested in becoming licensed in the future.
Many counselors focus their practice on a specific population or need. Below you will find details about different counseling specializations and degree programs within that specialization.