M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling

Program Information

Additional information about the Childhood Trauma Studies program is available below. If you have a question that is not answered on this page, please contact Neil Andress, the Childhood Trauma Studies program representative.

What is the Childhood Trauma Studies program?

The Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) Community and Trauma Counseling program is a four-course curriculum, resulting in a certificate or minor, intended to enhance trauma knowledge, skills and competencies.

The program is offered in partnership with The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), and The Institute for Family Professionals (IFP), a division of Lakeside Educational Network.

This curriculum has been previously piloted and evaluated for its efficacy and impact in enhancing trauma competency. All course materials will be provided for free by The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

What is the difference between the Minor and Certificate?

Both require the same four courses, offered at the same times.

  • The minor is available to current undergraduate Jefferson students
  • The certificate is available to non-students and Jefferson graduate students interested in childhood trauma studies 

Why should I gain trauma competencies?

The overwhelming incidence and impact of childhood adversity demands a trauma-informed workforce, regardless of the sector of employment.

According to a 2011 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 60% of adults report exposure to abuse or difficult family circumstances during childhood. In the United States, 26% of children will witness or experience a traumatic event before the age of four. The majority of public school children in America are reported to grow up in impoverished communities (Layton, 2015) and will likely grow up having endured additional adverse childhood experiences and chronic stress. Greater than 28% of children will experience physical abuse, 20.7% sexual abuse and 14.8% neglect (ACES, 2013). These statistics are reflective of the pervasive nature of trauma within our communities and its potential impacts on childhood development and school performance.

Trauma-informed professionals engage with children and families with compassion, sensitivity and intention to aid in healing.

What is the program’s mission? What are the Learning Outcomes?

This program aims to develop competent trauma-informed service providers who have the knowledge and skills to work effectively with children and families impacted by childhood adversity.

The program’s Learning Outcomes include:

  1. Recognize the causes, symptoms and behaviors associated with unresolved trauma.
  2. Distinguish among varying types of trauma
  3. Discuss the myriad of ways to apply trauma-based information, concepts, approaches, principles and skills
  4. Analyze and appraise specific situations in which trauma is impacting child development.
  5. Formulate strategies, creating and designing approaches that reflect their learning using trauma-focused strategic planning.
  6. Describe how to appropriately assess, choose and execute specific intervention plans
  7. Demonstrate an awareness and knowledge of their own cultural values and biases.
  8. Demonstrate an awareness and knowledge of the diverse worldviews of their clients, and will evaluate, select and employ culturally appropriate assessments and intervention strategies in their work.

Will I earn graduate or undergraduate credits?

The courses will be listed as undergraduate offerings. For students seeking graduate credits, courses are cross-listed with graduate-level courses. Additional assignments will exist in all syllabi for those seeking graduate credit.

Who will teach the classes?

Instructors from Lakeside Institute for Professional Education and Development will teach the program. All instructors are success certified trainers through The Lakeside Institute for Family Professionals trained in childhood trauma.

Additionally, course instructors will serve as advisors for students, and will hold office hours prior to each class at the off-campus course location.

Who can participate in the program?

The Childhood Trauma Studies Minor is open to all undergraduate students at Jefferson in majors that permit four elective courses. The program is especially relevant to Health Sciences, Pre-Medicine, and Psychology students.

Note that there are 4 sequential courses required and only one course is offered per semester. You must work with your advisor or speak with the program director to ensure that you will have adequate time prior to graduation to meet the requirements. You must also verify that the courses will be accepted as electives in your major.

The Childhood Trauma Studies Certificate is open to PhilaU graduate students, and professionals and paraprofessionals that work directly or indirectly with young children across a variety of disciplines including but not limited to childcare directors, teachers, mental health clinicians, Early Childhood Education Coaches and trainers, occupational therapists, physicians/ physician assistants, nurses, and undergraduate/graduate students intending to embark on a career working with children and families.

Are there pre-requisite courses for the program?

Yes. Students in the minor and applicants to the certificate must have successfully completed the following courses.

  • One college level English (or Composition) course (3 credits)
  • Two (2) courses in Psychology, Sociology, Child/Human Development, Pediatrics or Early Childhood Education*

*Please check with Neil Andress if you require an exception to this requirement.


For specific questions about the Childhood Trauma Studies program, please contact the Jefferson program representative:

Neil Andress
Email: andressn@philau.edu Childhood Trauma Studies program representative
Manager of Clinical Sites and Community Relations for
Community and Trauma Counseling