Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Dr. Catherine Y. Chang

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian Dew

Third Advisor

Dr. Greg Brack

Fourth Advisor

Dr. julia Whisenhunt


Trauma is ubiquitous (Beck & Sloan, 2012: Brown et al, 2011; Solomon & Johnson, 2002). Beck and Sloan (2012) reported that the vast majority of United States residents have experienced one or more posttraumatic stress disorder-level events as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (5th ed). Additionally, the persistent negative physical and psychological consequences of traumatic stress is a growing public health concern (Lupien, Mc Ewen, Gunnar & Heim, 2009). Nonetheless, there remains a paucity of training about posttraumatic stress in graduate counselor education programs (Courtois & Gold, 2009; Layne et al, 2014; Litz & Salters-Pedneault, 2008; Logeran et al, 2004). Since counselors working in a variety of mental health settings will likely be working with survivors of trauma, it is imperative that their training include foundational trauma knowledge and trauma-competent clinical skills (Layne et al, 2014). Standardized trauma-based curriculum to inform the education of professional counselors have yet to be integrated into graduate training despite the fact that researchers report high trauma-exposure rates among United States residents (Courtois, 2009). Further, trauma counseling competencies to inform the education of trauma counselors have yet to be identified (Layne et al, 2014; Mattar, 2010; Turkus, 2013). This study addressed these gaps in the literature using Qualitative Content Analysis (Schreier, 2012) to examine the experiences of thirty-nine trauma-competent mental health professionals. Participants with advanced counseling skill who scored in level 3 or 3i on the Supervisee Levels Questionnaire-Revised (McNeill, Stoltenberg, & Romans, 1992) were included in the data analysis. Authors developed trauma competencies, including intervention objectives and practice elements (Layne et al, 2014), based on the derived categories and subcategories emerging from the data. These trauma competencies are consistent with the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma training tool (Layne et al, 2014) as well as the New Haven Trauma Competencies (Cook & Newman, 2014) and include trauma-informed attitudes and beliefs, knowledge and skills essential to trauma competency.

INDEX WORDS: Stress disorders, Competencies, Professional competence, Professional training