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Course Description

To date, the majority of trauma therapy interventions have focused primarily on the individual. Except for within the couple and family therapy field, relational impacts and healing resources within trauma survivors’ relationships have generally been overlooked. Research has shown that when trauma survivors’ intimate relationships are strengthened, their ability to cope with the impacts of post-traumatic stress is also strengthened.

In addition to individual interventions, this course intentionally examines therapeutic interventions from systemic perspectives. It integrates interpersonal and intrapersonal approaches that are useful in helping clients heal from the impacts of trauma. The course will encompass a broad range of trauma experiences (e.g., intimate violence, sexual abuse, natural disasters, witness to violence, war, political terror, vicarious trauma) and its impact on the therapist.

The course is conducted through presentations, interactive discussion, readings, experiential exercises, case vignettes and/or video tapes. Students are expected to actively participate throughout the course. There will be less emphasis on didactic lecturing from the instructors, thus, students are required to take significant responsibility for their learning.

This course is typically recognized by AAMFT as a Therapy course.

Designed For

Counsellors, therapists, social workers, mental health workers, pastoral / faith-based, and other practitioners seeking to build or enhance their practical skills and theoretical foundation in couple and family therapy, as well as those exploring therapy as a career.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate the impacts of trauma on individuals, couples, families and communities using a systems theory framework
  2. Implement effective trauma therapy assessment and intervention approaches with couples and families
  3. Work collaboratively with clients in ways that honour hope, social inclusion, diversity, equity, empowerment, resistance, resilience and strength
  4. Understand the use of self, vicarious trauma, and vicarious resilience

Course Topics

The following key topics are addressed during the course:

  • Day 1: Introduction to trauma (Historical context, contemporary views); Impacts of trauma Part I; Positioning ourselves to respond effectively
  • Day 2: Impacts of Trauma - Part II; Assessment
  • Day 3: Intervention - Part I; Beginning interventions: Building the foundation
  • Day 4: Interventions - Part II
  • Day 5: Intervention continued; Vicarious trauma and the therapist

Additional Requirements

Pre-requisite course: Theories & Methods of Family Therapy: Foundations of the Field

Note: If you wish to take the course but have not completed the pre-requisite, please contact Beverley Fretz, Manager, Program Development at bfretz@uoguelph.ca.


Assignment Weight %
Presentation 25
Dialogues: Exploring Trauma Work 25
Major Paper 50


The course is offered jointly by the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT) and the University of Guelph, Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd).

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

*Course details are subject to change.


Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrolment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrolment opens.

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