How Do I Become a PTSD Counselor?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
A PTSD counselor helps people who have experienced traumatic events.
A PTSD counselor helps people who have experienced traumatic events.

To become a PTSD counselor, you will need to first research the regulations for becoming licensed as a mental health professional in the area where you live. In many places, including the United States, individuals who offer professional counseling services must typically complete an educational training course and supervised internship prior to receiving a license to practice. In addition to completing this education and receiving your license, you will typically want to take additional training that focuses on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before you become a PTSD counselor. If possible, you may wish to request that your pre-licensure internship take place in a setting where you will have the opportunity to work with individuals who have PTSD and professionals who are experienced in treating them.

Anxiety and emotional detachment are signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Anxiety and emotional detachment are signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is a condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that caused, or could have caused, death or serious injury. While the condition is often associated with soldiers and former soldiers, many other situations, such as criminal assault or natural disasters, can also lead to PTSD. Signs of PTSD include emotional detachment, anxiety, and episodes of reliving traumatic events in one's mind. Individuals who have been diagnosed with PTSD or who demonstrate symptoms of the condition may be referred to counselors with special training for assistance.

PTSD counselors may work with soldiers coming back from combat zones.
PTSD counselors may work with soldiers coming back from combat zones.

As PTSD is a mental health condition, you will typically need to complete a series of licensing requirements before you can become a PTSD counselor. There are several different mental health disciplines, so you will need to choose which profession you wish to enter. For example, you may wish to become a clinical psychologist, a clinical social worker, or a licensed professional counselor. Each discipline has its own educational requirements, which often involve earning a postgraduate degree or certificate. During your training, you may wish to talk to your academic adviser about your desire to become a PTSD counselor. He or she can advise you on good courses to take and may be able to steer you to a clinical practice internship that will provide you with experience in working with those who suffer from PTSD.

PTSD counselors may work with someone who has been through a natural disaster.
PTSD counselors may work with someone who has been through a natural disaster.

After you achieve your licensure, you may have the opportunity to obtain additional education in treating PTSD. This can come in the form of postgraduate certification programs or continuing education classes. In addition, you can attend professional workshops and classes during industry conferences. Finally, it is also wise to keep up on the professional literature in the area of PTSD and anxiety disorders. By reading what other professionals have learned about these conditions, you will be better able to serve your own clients.

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    • A PTSD counselor helps people who have experienced traumatic events.
      A PTSD counselor helps people who have experienced traumatic events.
    • Anxiety and emotional detachment are signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
      Anxiety and emotional detachment are signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
    • PTSD counselors may work with soldiers coming back from combat zones.
      PTSD counselors may work with soldiers coming back from combat zones.
    • PTSD counselors may work with someone who has been through a natural disaster.
      PTSD counselors may work with someone who has been through a natural disaster.