Trauma Across the Lifespan

Trauma Specialization: Trauma Across the Lifespan

WMU's School of Social Work has instituted a specialization in trauma practice across the lifespan, for interpersonal practice concentration MSW students.  Students need to declare their plan to obtain the trauma specialization through the Office of Admissions and Student Services, and organize their program plan to meet the requirements detailed below.

The trauma specialization prepares students to provide evidence-based clinical services to those with a history of trauma across the lifespan, including children, adolescents, adults, survivors and perpetrators; and those who have experienced a wide range of traumas, such as child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, community violence, combat, witnessing violence, human trafficking, natural disasters and/or traumatic accidents.

Trauma Specialization Courses

Students who wish to complete the Trauma Specialization need to complete nine elective credits in courses focused on trauma across the lifespan. These elective credits will meet degree requirements for the nine credits of electives. The specialization will not create any additional credit-hour requirements for students. The proposed specialization also does not extend the time required to complete the MSW degree.

Course schedule

  • SWRK 6500, Core Concepts of Child Trauma (3 credits) is a required course for the Trauma Specialization, and is offered during summer I in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids; and during the fall semester, rotating between GR and Kalamazoo.
  • SWRK 6379, Integrative Seminar in Trauma Studies is a required (1 credit) course for the Trauma Specialization, and is offered during spring semester in the students' concentration year, in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. This integrative seminar meets monthly during the spring semester, and integrates the variety of trauma-informed experiences (e.g. coursework, classroom, readings, research, treatment training and clinical work).
  • In addition to SWRK 6500: Core Concepts of Child Trauma (3 credits) and SWRK 6350: Integrative Seminar in Trauma Studies (1 credit), students will select five additional elective credits by choosing courses, 5000 level or above, that have a trauma focus in terms of assessment and/or treatment and that are approved for the Trauma Specialization. Two of these credits need to be taken in the School of Social Work.
  • The following one credit courses periodically offered at WMU meet this requirement (tuition costs vary by location).  More courses are being developed.
    • SWRK 6350: Secondary Traumatic Stress and Self-Care in Trauma-Focused Practice
    • SWRK 6350: Integrating Body-Based Interventions with Treatment for Trauma 
    • SWRK 6350: Integrating Mindfulness with Treatment for Trauma
    • SWRK 6350: Trauma and Neurodevelopment
    • SWRK 6350: Assessment and Treatment for Adult Survivors of Sexual Trauma
    • SWRK 6350: Trauma and Military Social Work
    • SWRK 6350: Risk Assessment and Treatment Planning for Adolescents with Sexually Abusive Behaviors
    • SWRK 6350: Strengthening Trauma-Informed Organizations
    • SWRK 6350:  Domestic Violence: Assessment and Intervention
    • SWRK 6350: Intergenerational Trauma: Assessment and Intervention in Indigenous Communities
    • CECP 5830: Forensic Psychology
    • CECP 5830: PTSD
    • CECP 5830: Self-Harming Behavior

Trauma-Informed Field Placement

Students also need to complete a MSW Interpersonal Practice concentration field placement that meets established trauma specialization criteria:

  • Identifies itself as having a trauma-focused approach
  • Serves those with trauma history
  • Clients are assessed for trauma
  • Treatment plans are focused on trauma resolution
  • Provides trauma-focused treatment to individuals and families
  • Field instructor has training and experience in providing trauma-focused treatment

Contact: Dr. Karen VanDeusen