The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology has developed a Concentration in Trauma & Abuse as part of its MA in Counseling Psychology program, designed to train counselors and therapists for leading-edge, whole-person engagement of the complex trauma that occurs in relationship—including sexual abuse, domestic violence, harmful attachment experiences, and abusive institutions and systems.

The MA in Counseling Psychology with a Concentration in Trauma & Abuse, to be launched in Fall 2019, offers a unique specialization in Trauma-Informed Narrative Therapy, a modality that has been developed over decades of experience by Dr. Dan Allender and The Allender Center. Informed by research into neuroscience, shame, somatic psychotherapy, bodywork, and robust theology, Trauma-Informed Narrative Therapy is a therapeutic approach integrating in-depth story engagement and an awareness of trauma science through the lens of a dynamic Christian faith.

“Our mission is to train people to be competent in the study of text, soul, and culture to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships. It’s not about studying as an end in itself; that call to service is at the heart of everything we do,” says Dr. Derek McNeil, Acting President. “As students develop more clarity about the specific realm of service they are called to, their education should become more focused as well. So this concentration will offer very particular training that hones the work students are already engaging through the Counseling Psychology program.”

“As students develop more clarity about the specific realm of service they are called to, their education should become more focused as well.”

This new concentration, the first of several being developed within our graduate degree programs, is emerging at a crucial time in our culture. We are surrounded every day by evidence of trauma and abuse—including the heartbreaking revelations of widespread, systemic abuse in institutions; the rising tide of individual stories brought to light through the #MeToo movement; and the myriad ways that more subtle effects of trauma and abuse play out all around us. More than ever, our world is faced with an urgent need for well-trained practitioners who are equipped to address the complex realities of trauma as they help individuals and communities pursue healing.

Our Concentration in Trauma & Abuse will feature teaching informed by a broad range of theories and approaches, as well as experiential training in individual and group story work. Courses will be offered in a laboratory-style learning environment, combining theoretical learning with practical application. Clinical formation will be facilitated by The Seattle School’s practitioner/scholar faculty, in tandem with immersive learning with The Allender Center. Through the integration of these methodologies, students will develop trauma-informed strategies for work in a variety of mental health settings and will be equipped to provide grounded, insightful, and attuned presence to traumatized clients.

“This concentration is for those willing to listen and attune to the pain and harm they have experienced in their own life. We can only take someone else as far as we have gone ourselves,” says Abby Wong-Heffter, LMHC, Affiliate Faculty and Allender Center Teaching Staff. “From that foundation, we train wounded healers to help others understand and heal from the complex impacts of trauma and abuse by listening to the stories their body remembers and longs to tell the truth about.”

The Concentration in Trauma & Abuse is designed to be completed concurrently with the MA in Counseling Psychology, and is composed of 70 credits: four concentration-specific credits, four required MACP electives, and two intensive offerings from The Allender Center. More information about the curriculum, application process, and goals for this new offering are available here.