Certificate in Trauma
& Spiritual Care

The Certificate in Trauma & Spiritual Care provides working professionals in both clinical and pastoral settings with the skills needed to adequately care for and help people during life’s most difficult situations.

Focusing on the spiritual understandings of trauma and healing, this intensive program combines crisis intervention training and trauma counseling courses to give caregivers a comprehensive set of skills to help trauma victims recover from their experiences.

Traumatic experiences affect people and communities in particular and complicated ways. In addition to physical and psychological impacts, trauma also can shatter trust and hope, which are the foundations of spirituality.

Courses are offered over four weekends (Friday evenings and Saturdays during the day) each fall and spring semester. If a summer course scheduled, it’s offered during an intensive week-long schedule. Each course is 40 contact hours of continuing education or 3 academic credits.

Admissions requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school of higher learning.
  • Some undergraduate studies in general psychology or sociology, as well as theology, spirituality, or religious studies are highly desirable.
  • International students whose first language is other than English will be required to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a score of 80.

Transfer credit
If upon entering the certificate program students do not have a(n) M.Div., MA, or MATS, and later choose to enroll in one of these degree programs at SFTS, the completed certificate courses cannot be transferred into the degree program.

There are four courses in the curriculum held during a period of two years. Each course meets once a month for four months, usually Friday evening for 3 hours and all day Saturday. Courses can be taken in any order and cannot be duplicated.

Our curriculum is as follows:

“God and Human Suffering” which deals with issues of theodicy—how do we make sense of evil in a world that is supposed to be under the care of the good God while providing pastoral care in relation to those who are suffering? What is the relationship between human suffering and the human spirit?
Instructor: Greg Love

“Dynamics of Trauma” explores the basic dynamics of trauma from a variety of perspectives: sociological, psychological, psychiatric, neuroscience, relational, theological and spiritual.  Additional topics include: the great variety and demographics of trauma, and the emerging field of traumatology, along with the spiritual and moral dimensions to trauma and the traumatized person, including the emerging concept of “moral injury.”

“Trauma Care Resiliency: Developing Transformative Emotional Intelligence (EQ)” applies the principles of transformative learning to foster EQ growth. This approach requires sufficient time for implicit learning to occur, space for self-reflection and questioning one’s own assumptions, and an environment which supports, confronts and clarifies.  In this class, students will learn critical care competencies for trauma care-giving including self-awareness, self-management and impulse control, empathy and the ability to attune to others, flexibility, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving, and the ability to engage and inspire others.

“Collective Trauma, Collective Memory: Systemic Issues of Trauma” will continue the examination of systems that hold and perpetuate trauma in the form of oppression and racism and how those systems govern or shape our social relationships. Further discussion will focus on transformative thought processes/actions that can then lead to healing.

The certificate is set up so that professionals/ministers who wish to take only one course may do so. The fee per course is $750.

Current course location and class schedule

San Francisco Theological Seminary
Scott Hall, Room 101
105 Seminary Road
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Friday from 7 – 10pm, and Saturday from 9am – 4pm:
February 24 & 25
March 24 & 25
April 21 & 22
May 12 & 13

Trauma and traumatic loss affects individuals, their communities and the systems and structures that surround them. As spiritual caregivers, we endeavor to be helpful resources of recovery and healing for persons who have experienced trauma.

– Rev. Ruth T. West,

Interim Program Manager, Advanced Pastoral Studies

Read Rev. West’s blog post about the Certificate in Trauma and Spiritual Care here.


For further information, please contact:

David Altshuler
Program Administrator,
Certificate in Trauma & Spiritual Care