MSW Programs With Trauma-Informed Care Training

Learn how schools incorporate trauma-informed care into their human services programs and read about the best MSW programs that offer this type of training.
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Doug Wintemute
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Doug Wintemute is a writer who focuses on higher learning and entertainment. Since 2014, he has contributed to content and editorial work for award-winning publications. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum l...
Updated on September 6, 2023
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Melissa Russiano, LCSW, LISW
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Melissa Russiano is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice, which has developed into a specialty helping working professionals. She is also a professor of graduate social work studies at Simmons University online. Russiano has a pro...
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  • Human services professionals need to understand and respect the effects of trauma.
  • All human services organizations should integrate trauma-informed care practices.
  • Trauma-informed MSW programs teach valuable clinical and management skills.

Trauma can have a lasting impact on the physical and mental health of individuals and groups, even permeating across generations. According to the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), the lengthy negative influence of trauma has led to changes in some of the policies and care programs that deal with it.

As a result, professionals have developed trauma-informed practices in schools, and curricula now emphasize trauma-informed care training. To help prospective students distinguish between their many options, the following guide delves into the top MSW programs incorporating trauma-informed practice.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care is a framework for working with and supporting victims of trauma. This system focuses on removing support obstacles and potentially traumatic experiences from human services and healthcare practices in favor of practices that will empower patients, offer them choice, and build and maintain trust.

For greatest impact, the CHCS suggests that adherents implement this revised approach throughout their entire organization, not just at the clinical level. Many colleges and universities have followed this advice, implementing trauma-informed practices in their mental health and social work curricula and offering support and wellness resources, such as help for managing stress.

Featured MSW Programs

Why MSW Programs With Trauma-Informed Care Training?

Many MSW programs emphasize trauma-informed care training for aspiring social workers. Trauma-informed practices teach students how to evaluate and revise potentially triggering approaches, screen clients for traumatic histories, and discuss and understand personal histories without disrupting or retraumatizing them.

Trauma-informed care training can also improve management and leadership practices. Graduates can help organizations reform and adopt new policies, develop appropriate communication strategies, create and run training programs, and plan and revise operational processes. In addition to offering professional benefits, trauma-informed care training equips MSW students with the skills needed to build safer environments for their patients, clients, and co-workers.

Best MSW Programs With Trauma-Informed Care Training

Online MSW at University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo's 60-credit online MSW emphasizes trauma-informed care. Since 2009, UB has offered this program, which includes professional development courses in human behavior in the social environment and perspectives on trauma.

In addition to introducing trauma-informed care, UB has also developed a new approach to navigate the challenging material and protect trauma survivors. Furthermore, the school established the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care to guide research, independent studies, and interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts.

Online MSW at Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University's online MSW infuses trauma-informed practices into its courses, providing students with sensitivity training and clinical preparation. The program also explores how trauma can influence various mental health disorders and substance use issues.

In addition to learning specific trauma-informed care approaches, VCU's MSW students can take courses in trauma and social work practice and core concepts of child and adolescent trauma. These courses teach learners how to safely provide trauma interventions and assessments.

MSW at University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa's MSW program features a trauma-informed specialization, which explores the effects of different types of trauma and methods for working with trauma survivors. The curriculum also covers organizational trauma-informed practices.

Courses may cover post-traumatic growth and primary and secondary trauma. Students will also learn the diagnosis and treatment process for clients and patients with traumatic histories. UNI also offers trauma-informed instruction in systems redesign, clinical practice, and program planning.

MSW in Direct Practice at Carlow University

Carlow University's MSW in direct practice teaches clinical methods with a trauma-informed approach. The 60-credit program teaches students how to evaluate and support individuals with a traumatic past.

The curriculum also deals with complex trauma, cultural awareness, and mental health and diagnosis. Carlow also offers a BSW with a concentration in crisis and trauma.

MSW at Simmons University

Simmons University's MSW program offers a certificate option in trauma practice, which prepares graduates to work with trauma survivors from various populations and settings. Degree-seekers learn how to approach different types of trauma in the most productive manner.

Simmons allows students to complete the MSW and certificate without adding additional credits or time to the original program. In place of electives, learners complete courses in trauma practice with children and adolescents and trauma practice with adults and families.

MSW at Michigan State University

Michigan State University integrates trauma-informed practices into its MSW in clinical social work. However, students can receive the most focused training in this field through the university's evidenced-based trauma certificate.

Available in the clinical practice track, trauma certificates for social workers feature focuses in relationship violence and sexual assault and complex trauma in children and adolescents. MSU also offers a trauma certificate for practicing human services professionals.

Online MSW at Walden University

Walden University's online MSW program offers a crisis and trauma focus area. Students learn to help trauma patients and develop treatment options. Learners also gain the ability to incorporate trauma-informed practices throughout their work.

Each focus area features two courses, but students can complete an additional course and earn a trauma certificate as well. Courses include trauma response, trauma-informed practice, and vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.

Online MSW at Widener University

In Widener University's online MSW program, students learn how trauma influences mental health challenges and how it can and should change social service approaches. The training prepares graduates to serve a wider clientele and provide more effective and impactful treatment.

Widener's MSW students can apply for a trauma certificate during their studies. As part of the certificate, learners complete a two-semester trauma supervision seminar.

Frequently Asked Questions About MSW Programs With Trauma-Informed Care Training

How do you get trauma-informed certified?

Students can earn certificates in trauma in several different MSW programs, but they must go through an official channel to become trauma certified. Trauma Institute International offers various certification options for clinical professionals and MSW students, such as certified family clinical trauma specialist, certified individual clinical trauma specialist, and certified trauma support specialist.

What are the five principles of trauma-informed care?

According to the CHCS, the five principles of trauma-informed care are patient empowerment, choice, collaboration, safety, and trustworthiness. To truly transform human services and provide effective care, professionals must employ these principles.

What are the three pillars of trauma-informed care?

According to Reclaiming Children and Youth, the three pillars of trauma-informed care, specifically when dealing with children, are safety, connections, and managing emotional impulses. Safety refers to creating and maintaining a safe environment, connections refers to the necessity for strong bonds and relationships, and managing emotional responses refers to children gaining mastery over their emotions as a coping mechanism.

How hard is it to get into MSW programs?

Prospective students typically need a bachelor's degree in social work or a related discipline for MSW admission. Some programs may require a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students should not find the admissions process for an MSW program any harder than the process for other master's programs.

What is trauma theory in social work?

Trauma theory explores the physical and mental impacts of traumatic events. Studies in this field may examine effects, triggers, recovery, and support approaches. Learners can delve into the effects of different magnitudes of traumatic events, contexts, and populations as well.

What's the Difference Between an MBA and an MPA?

Both an MBA and a MPA prepare graduates for administrative roles. However, an MPA focuses on public affairs, while an MBA covers business management.

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