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 education to give caregivers a comprehensive set of skills to help trauma survivors 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.

The certificate is comprised of four courses: Dynamics of Trauma, Trauma Care Resiliency, God & Human Suffering, and Collective Trauma, Collective Wisdom. Generally, one course is offered each fall and spring term over four weekends (Friday evenings and Saturdays during the day). However, this fall we are offering two courses (see descriptions below). If a summer course is scheduled, it’s offered as a week-long intensive. Each course is 3 academic credits or 40 contact hours of continuing education. Courses may also be taken on an individual basis but all four trauma courses must be completed in order to receive the certificate.

Spring 2019 Course:

God and Human Suffering deals with issues of theodicy—how we make sense of evil in a world that is supposed to be under the care of a good God while providing pastoral care in relation to those who are suffering.  This course explores the relationship between human suffering and the human spirit.

Instructor: Professor Greg Love

The other certificate courses:

Collective Trauma, Collective Memory: Systemic Issues of Trauma explores the dynamics of trauma as a set of social patterns and relationships constructed through conditions that legitimate hostile imaginations, feelings, and actions. Using race as the central category for systemic issues that exacerbate collective trauma and collective memories of trauma, this course will examine socially traumatic events, and social constructs that lead to collective memories of collective traumas. From the pastoral care, spiritual, and psychological fields it will identify the epidemiology of collective trauma and uncover roots of racial, gender, and class social injustices, such that social realities that create and reinforce collective trauma may be identified and eliminated.

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.

Instructor: Rev. Dr. Laurie Garrett Cobbina

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 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.

Registration Deadline

February 1, 2019

Course Schedules

Classes are Friday from 6:30pm – 9:30pm and Saturday from 9am – 4pm in Scott Hall #203 as follows:

February 8 & 9
March 8 & 9
April 12-13
May 10-11

Transfer Credits

If upon entering the certificate program students do not have a(n) MDiv, 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.


Degree students: CTSC courses can be taken as electives
Non-degree students: $780 per course

Temporary Lodging

If you need temporary lodging for your course at SFTS, please click HERE and complete our Guest Lodging Form. One of our events personnel will be in contact with you.

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,

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:

Rev. Paul Gaffney
Program Manager of Community Relations, Spiritual Care, and Direct Service
The Shaw Institute for Spiritual Care and Interreligious Chaplaincy