Crisis & Trauma: Identification, Assessment and Treatment for Acute and Prolonged Symptoms

Course materials are available as articles, and audio with transcripts.

In an age where trauma and tragedy is nearly becoming commonplace, clinicians must arm themselves with education and training in the management of crisis and trauma. This foundational course will provide a comprehensive overview of Trauma Theory, a review of the research on the management of crisis and trauma, and tools for best identifying, assessing and treating acute and prolonged symptoms associated with trauma.

This course is comprised of six articles and four audiotaped recordings (transcripts are provided). The first set of documents proffers definitions and descriptions of crisis and traumatic response including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additionally, they note the roles played by a variety of responders during crisis. The second set of documents provides several frameworks for better understanding traumatic response and the implications for the development of PTSD and other symptoms. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk speaks about his groundbreaking neurobiological approach in an interview with Dr. David Van Nuys. Dr. Van Nuys also reflects on the influence of trauma on cognitive interpretation and human experience in his interview with Pat Ogden. Measures available for the assessment and treatment of acute and long-term symptoms associated with traumatic experience are summarized in the final set of documents. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Disclaimer: This course is purely educational and does not intend to serve as a license (or permission) to mental health professionals to prescribe or practice any of the approaches discussed in this course unless they fall within the scope of practice of your profession. Check with your licensing board about the scope of practice of your profession to make sure you practice within that scope.It also does not serve as a permission to title yourself in any specific way.


  • Blix Ines, Kanten Alf Børre, Birkeland Marianne Skogbrott,Thoresen Siri (2018). Imagining What Could Have Happened: Types and Vividnessof Counterfactual Thoughts and the Relationship With Post-traumatic StressReactions. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 515.DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00515
  • Kilpatrick, D. G., Resnick, H. S., Milanak, M. E., Miller,M. W., Keyes, K. M., & Friedman, M. J. (2013). National estimates ofexposure to traumatic events and PTSD prevalence using DSM-IV and DSM-5criteria. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26, 537–547.
  • Wilkinson S, Dodgson G and Meares K (2017). PredictiveProcessing and the Varieties of Psychological Trauma. Frontiers in Psychology 8:1840. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01840

Educational Objectives

  • Summarize the research on crisis and disaster response.
  • Note the challenges associated with disaster response efforts.
  • Name the four phases of disaster response.
  • Note the foundational elements associated with the SOS Model of Crisis Management.
  • Review the evolution of the field of Trauma Recovery.
  • Identify common impacts of trauma on physical, emotional, cognitive and social function.
  • Describe a variety of acute symptoms of traumatic response.
  • Relate a variety of symptoms that may appear over an extended period of time.
  • Note tools that may be valuable in the identification and assessment of trauma sequelae.
  • Cite models and interventions that are currently in use for the treatment of trauma and PTSD.
  • Review the elements of Polyvagal Theory as it relates to trauma recovery.
  • Report the criteria for making the diagnosis of PTSD per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
  • Summarize the primary elements of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD).
  • Describe the use of EMDR in Trauma Recovery.
  • Note how Prolonged Exposure Therapy can be used to modify symptoms of PTSD.
  • Review the benefits of innovative interventions such as Modified Intuitive Prolonged Exposure Therapy (MIPET).


  • Introduction
    • What constitutes a crisis?
    • How does an event become "traumatic"?
  • Disaster Response
    • Phases of Disaster Response
    • Responder Roles and Affected Parties
      • Emergency responders, search and rescue personnel, mortuary teams, fire, police, and EMS agencies
      • Witnesses, families of those killed, missing, and injured, friends and coworkers of the aforementioned
      • Churches, schools, businesses in the affected area whether damaged or not, residents of the community and state, hospital staff
      • National guard, clean-up crews, volunteers for the many agencies responding, politicians, funeral directors, clergy, civic groups and organizations, and mental health workers
    • Challenges associated with Managing Disasters
    • Protocols for Volunteer Efforts
    • Red Cross
  • Frameworks for Contemplating and Understanding Trauma
    • The Predictive Processing Model
    • Interpersonal Neurobiology
    • Polyvagal Theory
  • Identification of Acute and Long-term Trauma
  • Impacts of trauma
    • Neurological
    • Psychological
    • Emotional
    • Cognitive
    • Behavioral
    • Interpersonal & Social
  • Assessment of Trauma and Trauma Sequelae
  • Intervention and Treatment Approaches for the Management and Resolution of Crisis and Trauma
    • Brief
      • Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
      • CBITS: Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools
      • TARGET-A: Trauma Affect Regulation: Guidelines for Education and Therapy for Adolescents and Pre-Adolescents
      • Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment
    • Intermediate
      • AF-CBT: Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
      • ARC: Attachment, Self-regulation, and Competency: A Comprehensive Framework for Intervention with Complexly Traumatized Youth
      • CM-TFT: Culturally Modified Trauma-Focused Treatment
      • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
      • CPC-CBT: Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Approach for Children and Families at Risk for Child Abuse
      • DBT-SP: Adapted Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Special Populations
      • EMDR
      • ITCT: Integrative Treatment of Complex Trauma
      • MMTT: Multimodality Trauma Treatment (aka Trauma-Focused Coping in Schools)
      • PCIT: Parent Child Interaction Therapy
      • SPARCS: Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress
      • TAP: Assessment-Based Treatment for Traumatized Children: Trauma Assessment Pathway
      • TF-CBT: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
      • TG-CBT: Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Child Traumatic Grief
      • TGCT: Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents
    • Long-term
      • CARE: Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement
      • CPP: Child-Parent Psychotherapy
      • IFACES: International Family, Adult and Child Enhancement Services, Heartland Health Outreach
      • Modified Intuitive Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Spiritual Reconnection
      • RLF: Real Life Heroes
      • Sanctuary Model
      • TST: Trauma Systems Therapy