Discover Trauma and Crisis Counseling Degree Programs

Crisis intervention counseling involves helping clients in acute mental health crises work through feelings and emotions effectively in an effort to prevent harm. Counselors in this field can respond on-site to clients in need as part of their daily duties or even work on staff for mental health facilities that provide emergency services to patients.

Crisis intervention counselors can be lifesaving professionals in the midst of an escalated crisis situation brought on by past trauma, post-traumatic stress, depression, or other acute mental health illnesses. One of the best ways to earn the necessary skills to work in crisis intervention is to enroll in a trauma and crisis counseling degree program.

MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine
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Degrees in crisis intervention counseling focus on preparing students to work in critical situations with patients. Some of the components of this degree program include a look into the human brain during a mental health crisis, as well as the effects of acute and long-term trauma on a person’s frame of mind.

Online degree programs in counseling that can lead to a professional license begin at the master’s level. Students should seek out programs that the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (or CACREP) has accredited if they are interested in becoming licensed counselors. These programs can prepare students to conduct assessments, educate students on different therapeutic interventions, and explain follow-up services that can be implemented in the long term.

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☰ For detailed degree information, view the guides to:
Online CACREP Accredited programs | Online MPCAC Accredited programs

Degree Levels to Consider

Several different educational paths are available for those interested in crisis and trauma counseling. Upcoming professionals with an interest in becoming licensed counselors should look into a CACREP-accredited graduate program. They can then get certified in crisis intervention through a postgraduate certificate program.

Bachelor’s programs can also help you develop skills for a career involving conducting assessments and referrals for clients during an acute mental health crisis. Consider some of the trauma and crisis counseling degree program options, and figure out which one works best for you.

  • Bachelor’s in Counseling: Bachelor’s programs in crisis intervention counseling can be a great starting point for upcoming counseling professionals starting their journey toward a career in this field. 
  • Graduate Certificate: Whether you have completed a master’s degree in counseling already or are new to the college experience overall, you could take advantage of certification programs in crisis intervention counseling online. These programs could be great options for current counselors interested in extending their skills in the field or simply providing new collegiate learners with certification prior to engagement in higher degree programs.
  • Master’s in Counseling: A master’s degree is the most common path for students who want to obtain their licensure and then practice in crisis counseling. Students considering these degree programs can locate online programs that include components for both general clinical mental health counseling and crisis response. Some students may also choose to complete their online master’s of counseling alongside a post-master’s certification program in crisis intervention to cover all of the licensing and career requirements.
  • Doctoral: Doctoral programs that can help train you further in crisis intervention can be suitable for licensed counselors interested in obtaining more education in the field of trauma and crisis. These programs can be a great way to engage in research and development in the field or to promote your knowledge and expertise in a practical setting. Online PhD programs in Crisis Intervention Counseling can be found at universities throughout the U.S.
  • Online Master’s Programs

    A master’s in counseling or trauma and crisis counseling can instruct you more on the proper protocol for crisis intervention. For students who are working or have busy schedules, online degrees might be productive options to consider. Students should seek out CACREP-accredited degree programs to make sure that they are on track for licensure as a counselor. Take a look at one of our featured online graduate trauma and crisis counseling degree programs below for more information.

    • Grand Canyon University – Online Master of Science in Trauma Counseling: If you would like to combine your education in trauma counseling with a general mental health component, you could review what is available through Grand Canyon University’s online MS in Trauma Counseling. This 74-credit program covers topics including interpersonal violence, childhood trauma, and counseling theories and principles. 

    Students interested in taking advantage of convenience in education can seek out online degree programs focusing on crisis intervention counseling at universities all over the U.S.

    Sample Courses

    Consider some examples of the kinds of coursework that may be included in a graduate trauma and counseling intervention program:

    • Strategies in Crisis Intervention: Crisis intervention counselors should have the skills necessary to de-escalate situations and provide clients with the support they need. This course provides introductory information regarding potential crisis situations, as well as some of the strategies used to help protect those in a state of crisis. It can also teach useful skills for working with clients in an acute crisis or those that may be sensitive to crisis situations in the future.
    • Techniques in Counseling: Even in crisis situations, counselors may be required to pull knowledge from their general counseling skill sets to properly diffuse situations. Students enrolled in this course can learn about the many different counseling techniques that can be used with clients in the field. Trauma experiences, goals, and treatment plans can dictate what types of methods are used during counseling services; the methods are taught to students throughout this course.
    • Adolescent Counseling: Children who are transitioning into the adolescent stage of life may require support as their mindsets and emotions change. Through training in this course, you can learn more about the counseling methods most effective with children in this age group. Different types of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral methods may be part of learning in this course.

    Path to a Career in Crisis Intervention Counseling

    If you are interested in taking on crisis intervention counseling in your career, you should start with an online bachelor’s program related to psychology or social sciences. You can then earn a graduate trauma or crisis counseling degree, or another relevant program, before applying for licensure if you meet all the requirements.

    Undergraduate Degree

    The core components of undergraduate psychology and social science courses can allow you to explore the human brain and its development — exceptionally helpful when working in crisis intervention. A bachelor’s program normally takes around four years to complete for most learners.

    Master’s in Counseling

    Moving into a master’s program could be a great step for you if you plan to become licensed as a counselor. Online master’s in counseling programs can outline counseling techniques that focus on understanding, communication, and coping that can be useful when in crisis.

    If possible, students should try to enroll in a program with a trauma and crisis intervention focus or specialization. Most universities offering online master’s programs allow students to complete work at a pace that works for them and offer both part-time and full-time enrollment options.

    Licensure and Gaining Work Experience

    After completing a relevant graduate program, you can begin your work experience requirement in the field. Most states require around 3,000 hours of supervised experience, which must be completed under a licensed professional counselor.

    State requirements may vary, and you should make sure that you have completed all the correct prerequisites for your state before applying for licensure. When you have completed this, you can move on to testing and licensure in your state.

    Organizations to Know

    After completing a trauma and crisis counseling degree program and earning licensure, there are many ways to continue your education and expand your professional network. Professional organizations in crisis intervention counseling and beyond can provide you with continuing education during the lifetime of your career. Most organizations in this field can be joined by paying a fee each year, giving you access to scholarly articles and journals on topics in your field.

    American Mental Health Counselors Association

    Some of the most prominent mental health organizations, such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association, have thousands of professional members to network with.

    Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

    Organizations such as the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists may also be a helpful resource since trauma is an important aspect of crisis intervention.

    Regardless of your preferences, there are many professional organizations to choose from to help you network with other professionals in your field and take part in programs and presentations when offered in your area.

    As you search for organizations to join, you should choose those that best reflect your goals as a professional as well as encourage your growth as a counselor in the field.

    Careers to Consider

    According to PayScale, crisis counselors have a median annual salary of $42,526 as of August 2021. Salary figures are subject to change based on specialty, location, position, and experience.

    As a crisis intervention counselor, you can interact with clients in some of the most critical times in their lives. Some counseling organizations require crisis counselors on staff to manage crises during the day and at night. Counselors in this field may also work with patients in an office setting to provide ongoing support to those experiencing crises.

    Certificate-level jobs, such as crisis hotline specialist, can provide advisory services to clients via phone. These services can be critical to people facing dangerous or life-threatening situations in real time.

    Social service agencies, research facilities, and mobile crisis operation centers can also be great places to pursue careers in this field if you earn your counseling license.

    Find the Right Trauma and Crisis Counseling Degree Program

    If you want to help people through acute and difficult life experiences, a trauma and crisis counseling degree program could help you toward a fulfilling career. Explore more of our resources featuring online counseling programs, licensure information, and course details to pursue your professional goals.

    Source List:
    American Mental Health Counselors Association
    Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists
    Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
    Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Find a Program
    National Board for Certified Counselors, Understanding Certification and Licensure
    PayScale, Average Crisis Counselor Hourly Pay

    List of Programs

    Counseling Career Guide

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