Certified Trauma Professional Training PESI Review – Best for Curious, Driven, and Empathetic Adults Who Want To Study Trauma For 10+ Hours

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on June 28, 2023
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Did you know that becoming a Certified Trauma Professional can be personally enlightening and professionally rewarding?

Trauma is confusing on a personal and professional level, and after studying for 12+ hours and getting 13.25 Continuing Education (CE) credits for our own CE requirements, we now believe:

The PESI Clinical Trauma Professional training is best for curious, driven, and empathetic adults and professionals, such as:

  1. Mental health professionals looking to expand their knowledge base and want to learn new approaches.
  2. Adults interested in trauma (and who want to learn how to heal their inner child wounds).
  3. However, the course contains 10+ hours of comprehensive information presented at a post-graduate level. So if you’re not looking to study trauma deeply for 10+ hours (at a minimum), one of the alternatives listed below is a better idea.

Our Online Mental Health Reviews team has purchased and studied the PESI intensive training course to become a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCPT). In this blog article, we’ll give you our review of the PESI training program.

We’ll cover what’s in the program and the certification process and explore the online therapy world of trauma professionals and their diverse opportunities.

Becoming certified opens up possibilities from enhancing professional skills to healing personal trauma. Let’s dive in!

PESI Trauma Certification Training - $199.99
  • Third Party Reviews
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Design


Best for Adults Who Want to Study Trauma for 10+ Hours and Are Curious, Driven, and Empathetic.


  • Comprehensive Curriculum
  • Certification
  • Online Format
  • Expert Instruction
  • Practical Application
  • CE Credits


  • Advanced Content
  • Time Commitment
  • Cost
  • Lack of Personal Interaction

Short Summary

  • Become a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) through coursework, exams, and practical experience.
  • The benefits of becoming a CCTP include increased job prospects, enhanced practice & access to continuing education opportunities.
  • The course is recorded from live, online training over several days. Most of the course is visual or audio. This online certification highlights the dialog between Megan (lead faculty presenter) and her audience of curious individuals who try their best to ask difficult questions!
  • You’ll receive helpful information about trauma that will help you make sense of your trauma history and how to apply various therapy techniques to manage, heal and release trauma.

How To Become a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional

Becoming a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) through PESI involves three basic steps:

  1. Finish the post-graduate level course specifically designed for mental health providers.
  2. Complete the course quiz, which becomes available after you finish the course materials.
  3. Get a Certificate of Completion

After getting your Clinical Trauma Professional Certification, you may submit proof of accreditation to the organization or platform where you manage your CE credits.

For more info on how CE credits accrue after completing a PESI mental health training course, read this CE + PESI informational resource.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Trauma Professional

doctor woman couch talking smile happy
  1. Attaining CCTP status can facilitate professional development, expand job prospects, elevate earning potential, and increase the client base.
  2. Enables professionals to provide trauma treatment services more effectively. Completing the online clinical certification training course can enhance a professional’s practice and trauma treatment outcomes.
  3. Becoming a CCTP offers professional and curious learners the chance to learn specialized knowledge and skills to facilitate trauma recovery, including complex PTSD and relational trauma.
  4. Other advantages include gaining insight into the most recent trauma-informed care and treatment approaches, developing a more profound comprehension of trauma, and having access to continuing education opportunities.
  5. By becoming a CCTP, individuals can enhance their abilities associated with trauma-informed care and treatment, such as recognizing indicators and manifestations of trauma, comprehending routes for recovery, and preventing re-traumatization.

About Continuing Education (CE) Credits

Continuing education is essential for mental health professionals to keep abreast of the latest research and treatments, as well as to enhance their professional skills and address their trauma.

  • Online and in-person trauma training opportunities are some options for continuing education.
  • Licensed professionals must complete certified educational programs, courses, and classes to obtain continuing education credit hours. PESI is certified by various programs, and these CE credits will count towards meeting the criteria for maintaining your professional license.
  • The advantages of continuing education include enhancing professional capabilities, facilitating personal trauma recovery, and working with other professionals.

Of course, if you’re interested in learning about trauma for personal reasons, you don’t have to worry about CE credits. The credits only apply to licensed professionals. But you may still become certified even if the credits don’t accrue if you’re not licensed!

Who This Training is For

Overall, this information and training is highly relevant for individuals and professionals who want to learn more about trauma in their leisure time.

So if you’re driven to learn more about trauma and are curious about the topic in general, you’re probably an empathetic person who’s an excellent fit for the course.

For appropriate individuals, we believe the quality of this course is very high (hence our quality score of 4.7/5). The only criticism is that we wish more reading materials were presented and the course’s forum was more engaging.

The PESI Online trauma certificate programs offer a comprehensive understanding of trauma-related topics and can be tailored to suit the needs of both groups.

Appropriate for the PESI Online Course:

  1. Mental health professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists want to expand their knowledge and skills in trauma treatment.
  2. Social workers deal with clients who have experienced trauma and seek additional training.
  3. Counselors in schools, colleges, or other educational institutions may encounter students dealing with traumatic experiences.
  4. Nurses or other healthcare professionals who wish to better understand and respond to the psychological aspects of trauma.
  5. Students studying psychology, counseling, social work, or related fields who aspire to specialize in trauma therapy.
  6. Professionals working in crisis intervention deal with traumatized individuals regularly.

Who is Not Appropriate for the PESI Trauma Training

  1. People who prefer a more simplistic approach to trauma. The course is challenging, with course materials being presented at a post-graduate level.
  2. Reading and visual learners. The course is primarily audio, so a different learning modality may be better if you prefer written or visual teaching content.
  3. Individuals who are seeking in-person trauma therapy. While the course can provide insights, it is designed for professionals and does not replace private treatment.
  4. Professionals in unrelated fields. This course might not benefit those in non-related professions unless they have a keen interest in trauma treatment or a relevant personal reason.
  5. Children or young adults. The course content is designed for professional development and may not be suitable or comprehensible for younger audiences.
  6. Those looking for a quick fix or easy solutions to complex trauma issues. The course promotes in-depth understanding and comprehensive therapeutic approaches, which require time and effort to learn and implement.

Pros and Cons – PESI Certified Trauma Professional Training

Pros of the PESI Course:

  1. Comprehensive Curriculum: The course covers various trauma treatment methodologies, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and somatic-based interventions.
  2. Certification: Upon completion, participants receive a Clinical Trauma Professionals certificate, which can enhance their professional credibility.
  3. Online Format: The course is delivered online, allowing participants to learn at their own pace and convenience.
  4. Expert Instruction: The course is facilitated by experienced professionals in trauma treatment, providing high-quality instruction.
  5. Practical Application: The course includes practical exercises and real-world examples, equipping participants with skills they can directly apply in their practice.
  6. Evidence-Based: According to meta-analysis research looking at therapy approaches for trauma, CBT and EMDR have consistently improved trauma outcomes.

Cons of the PESI Course:

  1. Advanced Content: The course content may be challenging for those without a mental health or psychology background.
  2. Time Commitment: Despite the flexibility of online learning, the course may require a significant time commitment to grasp and apply the techniques taught entirely.
  3. Cost: Some may find the $199 course cost prohibitive depending on circumstances.
    • If you are using the CE credits, the course is a 5/5 in price.
    • However, if not using CE credits, the course is a 3/5 in price.
    • On average, we give this course a 4/5 price review score.
  4. Lack of Personal Interaction: While online learning provides flexibility, it lacks the personal interaction and immediate feedback that a traditional classroom setting offers.
  5. Few Third-Party Reviews: While PESI is established in many states with high overall ratings, this particular course has no third-party reviews (hence 3/5 in our third-party review score).

Best Features – What Is In The Pesi Certified Trauma Professional Course?

  • Section 1
  • Section 2
  • Bonus Session
  • Bonus eBooks
  • Forums
  • Faculty
  • CE Certificate

We felt the ease of course navigation and completion, plus the overall website design reflects high quality. While the certification credits can be slightly confusing, we managed to get our credits reasonably quickly. Overall, we rate a 4.3/5 design quality score.

Section 1

Certified Trauma Professional - PESI

What You Learn In Section 1

Section 1 emphasizes the comprehension, identification, and reaction to the consequences of all types of trauma.

  • You learn about the different types of trauma (most notably ACEs)
  • Brain regions related to trauma, such as fight or flight
  • Family patterns like the ‘addicted family system’ where children are forced into forgotten and hero childhood roles

Types of trauma include developmental trauma, complex trauma, PTSD, and childhood trauma.

1) Developmental Trauma

Developmental trauma is a form of trauma experienced during childhood, typically due to recurring traumatic events and losses within the child’s meaningful relationships. Its symptoms include self-harm, extreme distrust, and verbal or physical aggression.

Mentalization is the capacity to understand behavior in light of underlying mental states and intentions, an essential factor in relational trauma and attachment.

2) Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is a term used to describe the experience of being exposed to multiple traumatic events, which are often of an intrusive, interpersonal nature. The distinct difficulties associated with complex trauma include difficulty in forming and sustaining relationships, difficulty in controlling emotions, difficulty in coping with stress, and difficulty in trusting others.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and trauma-focused therapies such as EMDR and somatic experiencing are all viable treatment approaches for complex trauma.

3) Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop following exposure to a traumatic event, often resulting in traumatic stress. It can manifest in various symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, and hyperarousal, which can significantly impact a person’s daily life.

The potential causes of PTSD can include exposure to a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a car accident, or a violent attack. Treatment options for PTSD may include psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle modifications.

4) Types of Childhood Trauma

The primary forms of childhood trauma can encompass physical abuse, sexual trauma, emotional abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction.

  • Physical abuse can involve hitting, slapping, kicking, shaking, burning, or any other form of causing bodily harm to a child.
  • Sexual abuse can encompass any sexual contact or activity with a child, such as fondling, intercourse, exploitation, or exposure to sexual materials.
  • Emotional abuse can encompass verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or rejection.
  • Neglect may involve not providing for a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, or medical care.
5) Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refer to traumatic events that occur during childhood, including abuse, neglect, and witnessing experiences such as crime, parental conflict, mental illness, and substance abuse.

These experiences can have long-lasting impacts on an individual’s health and well-being, leading to various physical and mental health issues in adulthood.

The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is one of the most extensive investigations of childhood abuse, neglect, and later-life health and well-being. You can find more about this groundbreaking research here.

ACEs play a crucial role in debunking traditional notions of trauma.

ACEs highlight that trauma isn’t limited to overtly violent or abusive events.

  • More subtle adverse experiences, such as emotional neglect or living with a parent with mental health issues, can also lead to adverse outcomes in later life.
  • This challenges the conventional understanding of trauma, emphasizing that harmful childhood experiences don’t necessarily have to be extreme or obvious to have lasting effects.
  • The ACEs Aware initiative offers resources for understanding and addressing the impact of ACEs. Their website, found here, provides information, tools, and training to assist professionals in integrating trauma-informed care into their practices.

Understanding ACEs is vital to recognize how early experiences shape our lives. It highlights the importance of nurturing environments for children and the need for early intervention and support for those who have experienced these potentially damaging events.

One of the best aspects of the PESI training is their emphasis on explaining ACEs at the beginning of the program.

For many people who didn’t experience apparent forms of trauma (i.e., neglect), it can be challenging to understand why emotions and relationships are so complicated and confusing.

By learning about ACEs’ science, individuals can better sense of their childhoods and clients.

Section 2

Certified Trauma Professional - PESI

1) EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

Basic Principles:

  • EMDR focuses on reprocessing traumatic memories to reduce their long-term impact.
  • It uses bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps, or tones) to help the brain process these memories.
  • The aim is to replace negative beliefs associated with traumatic memories with more positive, adaptive ones.

What Distinguishes EMDR:

  • Unlike other therapies, EMDR doesn’t require talking in detail about the traumatic event.
  • It focuses directly on the memory and changes the way the memory is stored in the brain, which can make it less distressing.


  • Bilateral Stimulation involves following a therapist’s finger or light with your eyes while thinking about the traumatic event. This can also be done with sounds or tactile stimulation.
  • Cognitive Interweaving: The therapist helps you introduce new information into your traumatic memory to change its meaning.
  • Future Template: You visualize a future scenario that might be challenging and use EMDR techniques to ensure this situation doesn’t trigger unprocessed memories.

2) CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Basic Principles:

  • CBT works by helping you understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful actions or feelings.
  • It involves working with a therapist to identify negative thought patterns and learn more effective coping strategies.

What Distinguishes CBT:

  • CBT is generally shorter and more structured than other types of therapy.
  • It emphasizes current problems and practical solutions rather than the past.


  • Cognitive Restructuring: This helps you identify and challenge negative thoughts not based on reality.
  • Exposure Therapy: You’re exposed to things that trigger your trauma in a safe and controlled environment to help reduce fear and anxiety.
  • Skills Training: This teaches you coping skills to manage stress and anxiety.

3) Somatic-Based Interventions

Basic Principles:

  • Somatic therapy combines talk therapy with physical therapies to help release the physical tension that remains in your body from trauma.
  • The focus is on bodily sensations and somatic experiences.

What Distinguishes Somatic-Based Interventions:

  • They emphasize the mind-body connection and use the body as a tool in therapy.
  • These interventions consider symptoms as physical manifestations of deep-seated emotions.


  • Grounding Techniques: These exercises bring attention to the physical body and the present moment.
  • Body Awareness Exercises help you reconnect with your body and become aware of physical sensations and reactions.
  • Breathwork: Deep and focused breathing can help calm the nervous system and reduce trauma symptoms.

Also, woven throughout Sections 1 and 2, various excellent stories and case studies arise spontaneously from presenter-audience interaction.

Bonus Session

Bonus eBook

The manual uses the analogy of a seed blossoming into a flower to teach trauma-healing techniques.

For example, you need fertile ground to plant a seed, and then you need to water it before it can transform into a plant and grow upwards.

Similarly, you must prepare yourself with knowledge and self-care before using trauma healing techniques. Then with support and practice, you can nurture yourself to transform your trauma into newfound peace of mind, purpose, and compassion.

This 249-page PDF healing manual, authored by Dr. Arielle Schwartz, best-selling author of The Complex PTSD Workbook, offers a step-by-step strategy for trauma recovery that incorporates:

  • Somatic psychology
  • Mindfulness & yoga
  • EMDR therapy
  • Relational therapy
  • Parts work therapy


While the forum does appear to have ongoing conversation and support, closer examination shows many comments are unaddressed.

Certified Trauma Professional - PESI

Faculty – About Your PESI Trauma Course Instructor

Our team liked the lead trainer, Megan! We could tell Megan was both personable and an excellent presenter.

  • Megan Boardman is a Certified EMDR clinician and trainer, Advanced Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional II.
  • She has been invited to train internationally at the International Society of Addiction Medicine in India, the International Conference on Addiction Research and Therapy in Amsterdam, and the Psicologia Institute of Italy.
  • She formerly owned one of the largest treatment centers for substance abuse and trauma in Southeast Idaho, which was voted best in practice for 2019.

Throughout the program, Megan asks the audience questions and gets people to respond for interactive discussion.

This makes the course stand out – the interaction between Megan and the participants. Megan does an excellent job clarifying questions while not spending too much time getting bogged down on any one participant.

CE Certificate

Steps to Get PESI Certification

After you have taken the course, you’ll be ready to take the quizzes required for certification.

  1. Complete the course.
  2. Take the 80-question quiz in module one. This comprehensive quiz covers both course sections. After completing the examination, you’ll meet course evaluation requirements with an 80% score or better.
  3. Take the second 16-question quiz for the bonus training.
  4. Click “CE Certificate” to see any remaining steps you have, such as the course evaluation if you forgot earlier.
  5. Assign your CE credits to a licensing and education organization. PESI is partnered with many states for nurses, psychologists, counselors, and more. You’ll have to choose where to designate your CE credits.
  6. Get a Certificate in your inbox!

Alternatives to PESI’s Trauma Training Certification

In the ever-evolving mental health field, trauma-informed care has become a critical area of focus.

While online trauma training certification programs have made this crucial education more accessible to many, they are not the only available options. There exists a multitude of alternatives that cater to different learning styles, time commitments, and budget constraints.

For example, if you want to learn about mental health in general (instead of trauma-specific), there are various mental health certification programs. You may also learn about past trauma techniques for abandonment issues and vicarious trauma.

Of course, there are many do-it-yourself-at-home alternatives as well, such as evidence-based journaling.

Online Trauma Certificate Programs

  1. Trauma Institute International – Online Trauma Certifications: This program provides extensive knowledge and skills for effective and ethical trauma treatment. Learn More
  2. Trauma-Informed – Social Work Continuing Education: An online certificate program that offers an overview of creating a trauma-informed environment within organizations. Learn More
  3. Trauma Informed Care Certificate Program: Designed to equip human service professionals with techniques to improve their work with children, adolescents, adults, and families who’ve experienced trauma. Learn More
  4. TSS Certificate Program – Trauma Research Foundation: A comprehensive 7-month online Certificate Program in Traumatic Stress Studies that covers the impact of trauma on the brain and body. Learn More
  5. Trauma-Informed Clinical Practice: A 36-hour certificate program offering critical education in trauma-informed clinical practice. Learn More
  6. Professional Certification in Trauma and Resilience: Level One: Florida State University offers an online curriculum for professional certification in trauma and resilience. Learn More
  7. Post-Master’s Certificate in Trauma Counseling: An online postgraduate trauma certificate program available through evening courses. Learn More
  8. Certificate Programs – Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute: Offers training throughout the year at your own pace through on-demand, public, or live virtual workshops. Learn More
  9. Certificate of Graduate Study in Trauma-Informed Counseling: A fully online program designed to be completed by current graduate students or professionals working in counseling. Learn More
  10. Trauma Certificate – Wheaton College: Offers trauma-informed training for mental health and humanitarian aid professionals from a Christian worldview. Lea

In-Person Trauma Training Opportunities

  1. SAMHSA’s GAINS Center Training: Provides education for criminal justice professionals about the impact of trauma and how to develop trauma-informed responses. Learn More
  2. Minnesota Trauma Recovery Institute Training & Education: Provides training for addiction treatment center staff to screen for trauma/PTSD and tailor the delivery of groups to consider trauma. Learn More
  3. Red Cross First Aid for Severe Trauma (FAST) Training: A national STOP THE BLEED course that teaches what to do in a severe bleeding emergency. Learn More
  4. University of Minnesota’s Person-Centered Thinking Training: Offers person-centered thinking and trauma-informed care training. Learn More


By becoming a Certified Trauma Professional, you can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to make a meaningful impact on the lives of trauma survivors while advancing your own professional and personal growth.

The PESI online certification program offers a high-quality program that’s best for adults, professional or otherwise, who are curious, driven, empathetic, and want to immerse themselves in learning trauma for 10+ hours.

Becoming a trauma professional is rewarding and fulfilling and can open up possibilities for you and the individuals you serve.

We hope you get as much out of this course as we did!

Tell us what mental health software to review next on Online Mental Health Reviews. If you have stories about using a particular product or know of a discount code, please share so everyone may benefit!

Frequently Asked Questions

cbt questions for anxiety

Does PESI Offer Refunds?

For recorded products, PESI’s refund policy states, “PESI gladly accepts returns within one year of purchase for a full refund.”

What is The Role of a Certified Trauma Professional

A Certified Trauma Professional may provide therapeutic, counseling, and other forms of support to trauma survivors. Additionally, they may educate and advocate on behalf of trauma survivors.

Certified Trauma Professionals may collaborate with other professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other healthcare providers, to provide comprehensive care to trauma survivors.

1) Trauma-Informed Approach

A trauma-informed approach plays a critical role in the work of certified trauma professionals by aiding them in establishing a secure and encouraging environment for trauma survivors. This entails being aware of the consequences of trauma on individuals, identifying the indicators and effects of trauma, and responding appropriately and non-judgmentally.

The principles of trauma-informed care involve safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment, which guides certified trauma professionals to create a secure and supportive environment for trauma survivors.

What are Career Opportunities for Certified Trauma Professionals?

Certified Trauma Professionals can work in various settings, including hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practices. Additionally, they may work with multiple populations, including veterans, children, and abuse survivors.

The primary roles are trauma therapist, trauma support specialist, and criminal justice professional.

Clinical Practice

The clinical practice of Certified Trauma Professionals entails providing therapy to individuals who have experienced trauma, conducting assessments, constructing treatment plans, and completing a minimum of 12 hours of post-graduate training in particular trauma assessment and treatment topics.

Certified Trauma Professionals can work in various clinical settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and community mental health centers, offering individual, family, and group therapy, assessments, and treatment plans.

Research and Academia

The scope of research and academia for Certified Trauma Professionals includes conducting studies, publishing papers, presenting findings at conferences, teaching and mentoring students in trauma-related fields, and obtaining certifications in trauma and resilience.

Certified Trauma Professionals may pursue research and academic opportunities such as conducting studies, publishing papers, presenting findings at conferences, and teaching and mentoring students in trauma-related fields as adjunct associate professors.

Nonprofit and Advocacy Work

Certified trauma professionals can provide invaluable services to nonprofit organizations that offer assistance to trauma survivors free of charge or at a reduced cost. Additionally, they can advocate for policies that support trauma survivors and raise awareness about trauma-related issues.

Nonprofit and advocacy work can offer certified trauma professionals a chance to impact the lives of trauma survivors positively, and it can assist them in developing their professional abilities and obtaining experience in the trauma field.

What does it mean to be trauma certified?

Trauma-certified means that the individual has received the necessary training to provide compassionate, skilled, and practical support for trauma survivors to assist them in their recovery.

This training includes understanding the impact of trauma on the individual, recognizing signs and symptoms of trauma, and developing strategies to help the individual cope with the effects of trauma. It also involves learning how to create a safe and supportive environment for the individual to process.

Is the CCTP certification worth it?

Based on the facts given, the Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) certification is worth it. Most respondents reported a positive experience with their CCTP certification, suggesting it may benefit their career prospects and earning potential.

Again, are you a driven, curious, and empathetic individual who wants to study trauma intensively for 10+ hours?

What does Cctp mean in counseling?

CCTP stands for Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and provides training to become a qualified trauma counselor. CCTP courses help counselors gain knowledge and skills in treating and managing the unique needs of those affected by trauma.

These courses cover trauma assessment, crisis intervention, and trauma-informed care.

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