Trauma-Effective Leadership Certificate

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

This fully online, rigorous, ten-moth synchronous online education certification program will use a cohort learning modle to provide learners with:

  • 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 are 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 are wondering what a “trauma-effective organization” looks like;
  • you wonder how to define, measure, and recognize well-being when you see it.

Many leaders are trained in traditional practices and leadership approaches. This training and education does not teach leaders to adapt to new and changing environments by utilizing new knowledge and methodologies. This certificate helps leaders build on their previous training to respond effectively to the new 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 20 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 WebEx 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, the 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, and Debi Grebenik, PhD, MSW, LCSW, utilitze their knowledge and skills to inform not just the content, but the way they deliver it.

Program Schedule

The Trauma-Effective Leadership Certificate combines online, experiential, and cohort learning to maximize learning outcomes. All of the coursework is online with the majority of the content being asynchronous, allowing busy learning 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 10 months.

Dates for the next cohort will be posted soon.


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 usse 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