We change people's lives, we help people heal from the horrific things that happen in human existence. The value of this is priceless.

Want to build knowledge, skills and credentials in a specialized area above and beyond a master’s degree? The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Trauma-Informed Practice is a 15-credit hour graduate program to further your knowledge through a comprehensive, specialized curriculum of applied skills in trauma intervention. The CAS in Trauma-Informed Practice is structured for clinicians, mental health professionals, and practitioners from allied disciplines to expand their knowledge and skills in the field of trauma response and intervention. Trauma-informed practice is based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.

Why this degree makes a difference in society today…tomorrow…

The CDC statistics on abuse and violence in the United States are sobering. They report that one in four children experiences some sort of maltreatment (physical, sexual, or emotional abuse). One in four women has experienced domestic violence. In addition, one in five women and one in 71 men have experienced rape at some point in their lives — 12% of these women and 30% of these men were younger than 10 years old when they were raped. This means a very large number of people have experienced serious trauma at some point in their lives. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente assessed associations between childhood trauma, stress, and maltreatment and health and well-being later in life. ACE scores were found to be highly correlated with serious emotional problems, health risk behaviors, social problems, adult disease and disability, mortality, high health care and other costs, and worker performance problems. Higher scores were also significantly correlated with liver disease, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, heart disease, autoimmune disease, lung cancer, depression, attempted suicide, hallucinations, the use of antipsychotic medications, the abuse of substances, multiple sex partners, and increased likelihood of becoming a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. Effective trauma treatment is crucial to break cycles of violence and to improve the quality of life for victims.

Sample Courses

Courses are designed to help students gain knowledge and emerging skills in the area of trauma-informed assessment and intervention, including the ability to match interventions appropriately to the type(s) of trauma experienced. Sample courses include:

  • Family Therapy with Complex Trauma
  • Treatment of Complex Trauma with Individuals
  • Applied Neuroscience in the Human Services
  • Violence, Bullying, & Trauma: Clinical Perspectives
  • Spirituality in Therapy
  • Psychopathology
View all course requirements and electives

Why a CAS is Important

Students consider CAS programs to advance or complement an existing skill set, or to develop a new one. For some students, CAS programs are helpful stand-alone options to enhance an advanced degree they already have. For others, supplementing a master’s program with a CAS generally entails coursework that matches M.A. or M.S. requirements. With little to no additional time or financial investment required, pairing a master’s degree and a CAS simultaneously is appealing. Take for example, a student in Falk College’s MFT or M.S.W. programs, or its dual degree program in MFT-M.S.W. Enrolling in the CAS in Addiction Studies while pursuing one of these master’s degree pairs two important skills in high demand. Today there is a prevalence in individuals experiencing a co-existing addiction disorder and mental health disorder. Failure to recognize that an individual with a mental health disorder is also dependent on alcohol or drugs (or vice versa) impedes treatment. So combining competencies in mental health counseling with addiction studies prepares students to address society’s needs while enhancing their marketability for employment.

What’s the advantage of earning a CAS credential and a master’s degree?

Graduate certificates are important when pursuing a master’s degree because they can give you a leg up on employment once you graduate. You build knowledge, skill and credentials in a specialized area of interest above and beyond the master’s degree without extending your time at Falk. And when you graduate with a master’s degree and a Certificate of Advanced Study, the CAS letters next to your M.A., M.S., M.S.W. or MFT on your new business cards are a valuable addition.

Our Facilities

Peck Hall is a five-story, 30,000 square-foot facility that houses MFT faculty and administrative offices, classrooms, a student lounge/kitchen, and a seminar room. Other key features include a children’s clinic and expanded counseling rooms for the Couple and Family Therapy Center, which serves clients referred from mental health and human service agencies and school districts throughout the area. The facility is equipped with state-of the art technologies, including smart classrooms with video conferencing, and counseling rooms with digital video imaging for clinical training purposes. Peck Hall is situated adjacent to the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, enhancing collaborations with the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy specifically around issues of child and family trauma and giving students a technologically advanced, interdisciplinary training environment working with highly skilled and very dedicated mental health professionals. Additional long-standing community partnerships provide experience-rich learning opportunities for MFT students, including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Jewish Family Services, Vera House, and the Brownell Center at Liberty Resources, among many others.

Experiential Learning

All students spend one year providing therapy in the on-campus Couple and Family Therapy Center, which is well equipped for videotape and live supervision. They also see clients in off-campus practica sites after their first semester of client contact. The Couple and Family Therapy Center offers no cost, confidential therapy services to families, couples, and individuals who are coping with life’s challenges. Some of the issues most frequently addressed at the Center include resolving marital and couple difficulties; easing relationship or communication struggles; helping a troubled child, teenager, or family; moving beyond family violence or substance abuse; or dealing with emotional distress such as anxiety or depression, grief, and loss. The Couple and Family Therapy Center serves diverse clients from across Central New York. It is located in Peck Hall, which provides a comfortable therapeutic atmosphere. Rooms provide flexibility in treatment options, from talk therapy to play therapy and sand tray interventions. Therapists are masters and doctoral students in the Marriage and Family Therapy Department at Syracuse University who work closely under the supervision of licensed faculty. Advanced technology affords students excellent training oversight and ultimately improves the quality of service to clients. The Center also features the Trans Team, which provides a unique opportunity for students who want to gain training and experience working with transgender people and their loved ones. In addition to their general caseload, therapists on the Trans Team work with transgender individuals, couples, and families, providing general therapy, helping families become more attuned to their transgender family member, navigating with clients through the process of gender transition, and providing letters of support for medical gender transition.

What's next after this degree

A Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) complements a M.A. in marriage and family therapy degree and other masters degrees, not to mention their marketability after graduation, with additional knowledge, skills, licensing and credentials in a specialized area. Additional licensing and credentialing strategically positions students in the counseling and mental health fields. Students wishing to pursue a university level-teaching career can further pursue a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy.


According to U.S. News & World Report, marriage and family therapy is one of the fastest-growing mental health disciplines in the U.S. today. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected in both occupations as more people have mental health counseling services covered by their insurance policies. Counselors working with trauma often work in private practice, government organizations, non-for-profits, and health organizations. You might not always be counseling inside a comfortable office setting. Trauma counselors often work in places like emergency rooms and shelters. Experienced trauma counselors can be hired by the military and work in war settings or hired by police departments and work with victim immediately after a crime. The Red Cross is one organization that looks for counselors with trauma experience to volunteer during natural disasters such as; tornados, floods and earthquakes. They have to be skilled individuals to provide effective and empathetic support without becoming too emotionally involved or invested in their cases. The role is particularly important because the after-effects of trauma can go on indefinitely if not dealt with and can progress to seriously impact upon someone’s life. Sample career positions include:

  • Trauma Informed Specialist
  • Director Trauma Informed Early Care
  • Trauma Informed Care (TIC) Consultant
  • Crisis and Trauma Counselor or Therapists
  • Crisis Response Clinician
  • Psychotherapist for Trauma Recovery

Student Organizations

Students should maintain membership in AAMFT throughout their enrollment in the M.A. and doctoral programs. M.A. students should apply for Student Membership in AAMFT their first term in the core program and maintain registration until receiving their degree. Students interested in working with faculty on research projects will find numerous projects available to them. Additionally, specialized opportunities based on a student’s interest are also available to broaden his or her professional skills. For example, the Trans Team involves student therapists providing LGBTQ affirmative therapy and assisting clients who are preparing for gender transition. The Trans Team provides a unique opportunity for students who want to gain training and experience working with transgender people and their loved ones. Students volunteering for this team attend specialized training, where they learn about a gender-affirmative approach to therapy and how to support transgender clients through the readiness process for medical gender transition.

Tuition and Financial Aid

New reduced 2021-22 tuition for graduate students:

Beginning Summer 2021, tuition rates for matriculated students in the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate programs were reduced from $1,734 to $1,084 per credit hour for the 2021-22 academic year! This reduced pricing is for both new and current students. With few exceptions, the reduced rates can not be combined with other funding awards and are not applicable toward prior semesters’ tuition. For questions about the new tuition pricing, please contact Falk Admissions.

Getting Admitted

Completed bachelor’s degree, minimum GPA of 3.4. Prefer experience in the field of trauma or enrollment in or completion of a master’s degree in an allied field. GRE’s not required. An admissions committee consisting of members of Marriage & Family Therapy, Social Work and Public Health faculty will consider requests for exceptions to the admissions requirements. A completed bachelor’s degree, minimum GPA of 3.4, or enrollment in or completion of a master’s degree in an allied field is required. GRE’s are not required. For the completion of a CAS, a student must be matriculated in the certificate program for at least one semester. Matriculation may not be backdated. Graduate students must earn a minimum average of 3.0 for work comprising the program for the degree or certificate and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8. A maximum of three credits from a combination of transfer and/or external examinations/extra-institutional and experiential learning will be accepted toward a CAS. Apply Today!

Learn More:

For additional admissions information, contact the Office of Admissions at falk@syr.edu, or fill out our online form: Get more information!

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