Trauma-Effective Leadership Certificate

Imagine creating an organization where everyone understands their “why,” purpose, or belief and is working from a place where they can innovate, grow, adapt, inspire, and influence teams, clients, systems, and communities. Leaders create culture and environments where people feel safe. We invite you to step into the learning of how to become an inspired leader who can cultivate an environment that is not only informed about trauma, but is effective at mitigating and ameliorating it.

This fully online, rigorous, ten-month education certification program will use a cohort learning model to provide learners with the following:

  • What a trauma-effective organization looks like and how to define, measure, and recognize well-being.
  • New trauma-effective leadership techniques, based on an emerging understanding of the importance of both physical and emotional safety.
  • Increased awareness of the leader’s role in shaping culture to be safe in both conscious and unconscious practices in the parallel process.
  • New skills and strategies to create a toolbox of trauma-informed leadership practices.

Certificate Eligibility

This interdisciplinary certificate is open to professionals from across the country and may be of particular interest to leaders from human services, child welfare, behavioral/mental health, corrections, health care, education and more, from both the private and public sectors.

Some signs that this certificate is for you include:

  • you’ve lost your vision, your passion is no longer your driving motivation;
  • you’re struggling with worker burnout, retention, and satisfaction;
  • your outcomes or results are stagnant;
  • revenue generation is more challenging due to a lack of innovation;
  • you’re wondering what a “trauma-effective organization” looks like;
  • you’re curious about how to define, measure, and recognize well-being when you see it.

Many leaders are trained in traditional practices and leadership approaches. Such training does not teach leaders to adapt to new, changing environments by utilizing new knowledge and methodologies. This certificate helps leaders build on their previous training to respond effectively to changing realities and demands facing organizations in today’s service environment.

Major Learning Modalities

This course will bring together a small cohort of leaders from human services, child welfare, behavioral/mental health, law enforcement/corrections, health care, education, and more, from both the private and public sectors. The cohort size will be limited to 25 to ensure an engaged learning community. Major learning modalities will include course readings, real-time instructor-facilitated discussions with peers, instructor-created videos, peer-led discussion forums, critical response papers, organizational case studies and assessments, reflective writing, and a final project.

The majority of course content is asynchronous, meaning learners can engage in course content whenever they find it convenient. The praxis between learning and practice occurs though a monthly two-hour, live Zoom discussion with all students and faculty.

Benefits of This Certificate

New practice wisdom that has not been taught in most traditional educational settings is available to leaders. It is vital to understand the role that parallel process plays. When healing of the healers occurs, visible outcomes include:

  • Increased retention
  • Improved outcomes and results
  • Increased innovation and creativity
  • Decreased burnout
  • Decreased cost

Major Learning Themes

Trauma-effective leadership begins with an understanding of trauma and its impact on the brain. This knowledge sets the framework for leaders to build their own personal self-awareness and understanding to create informed and effective leadership strategies. Major learning objectives for each month’s modules include:

  • Identifying your goals and assessing your and your organization’s level of well-being.
  • Developing a personal strengthening plan and your leadership fortitude: Understanding your “why” while learning self-regulation strategies and developing your own leadership goals.
  • Developing an organizational strengthening plan—protective factors and fostering resilience to mitigate the impact of the work — developing your role as a leader.
  • Using a universal precautions approach to trauma with leaders, staff and others: Building self-awareness about how the impact of trauma, culture, and experience affect your leadership responses.
  • Creating organizational change: Contrasting traditional and trauma effective approaches.
  • Modeling well-being and healing for leaders and staff: Engaging the parallel process.
  • Implementing trauma-effective operational and administrative services and environments: Selecting, building, and leading trauma-effective services.
  • Navigating the elements of organizational change and the challenges inherent in the change process.
  • Integrating and applying learning: Application and ways to build sustainable support through the change process.

Preeminent Instructors

Amelia Franck Meyer, EdD, MS, MSW, LISW, APSW, Debi Grebenik, PhD, MSW, LCSW, Brandon Jones, MA, and Kim Van Auken, MSW, LCSW utilitze their knowledge and skills to inform not just the content, but the way they deliver that content.

Program Schedule

The Trauma-Effective Leadership Certificate combines online, experiential, and cohort learning to maximize educational outcomes. All of the coursework is online with the majority of the content being asynchronous, allowing busy learners to engage in course content whenever it is convenient for them. Faculty and students come together each month for a two-hour live discussion. Students complete the certificate in ten months.

The 2021 Cohort will take place February 1, 2021 through November 30, 2021.

Asynchronous Class Material

All asynchronous class material will become available to Certificate Learners January 15, 2021.  Students will have access to this material throughout the full Certificate course and for 6 month following the completion of the course (May 2022).

Synchronous Classes

All synchronous classes will occur on the second Friday of each month of the Certificate from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Central Time).  Please see below for a full list of synchronous classes:

  • February 12, 2021
  • March 12, 2021
  • April 9, 2021
  • May 14, 2021
  • June 11, 2021
  • July 9, 2021
  • August 13, 2021
  • September 10, 2021
  • October 8, 2021
  • November 12, 2021


Applications for the 2021 Trauma-Effective Leadership Certificate cohort have closed.

Information regarding the 2022 cohort will become available Fall 2021.

You must apply to be admitted to the certificate program. Apply here.

Credential Earned

The School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota awards a Certificate in Trauma-Effective Leadership to individuals who successfully complete the certificate program.


The cost to complete the certificate program is a one-time payment of $2,900. Financial aid is not available through our Continuing Education program.

Technology requirements

This certificate program will use typically available technologies to ensure that it is easily accessible to a majority of learners. A detailed list of technology requirements will be available upon acceptance to the program.

Project Partners

University of Minnesota School of Social Work; Alia: Innovations for people and systems impacted by childhood trauma; College of Education and Human Development’s Educational Technology Innovations