Trauma response training at York U. will set new standard for assisting victims


TORONTO, February 20, 2003 -- An estimated 70 per cent of the population in North America will experience trauma in their lifetime, in encounters ranging from motor vehicle accidents and serious illness to crime, natural disasters, and international terror. But victims of trauma can, and do, recover with timely and appropriate intervention.

To enhance trauma response training in Canada, York University in conjunction with the Traumatology Institute of Canada will begin offering certificate courses this summer for both professional and non-professional caregivers.

"The need for specialized training has never been greater," said Dr. Anna B. Baranowsky, academic coordinator of the program and executive director of the Traumatology Institute. "After trauma it is essential to know when to respond and how." For the majority of individuals the early traumatic reactions of shock, sleep loss, panic, isolation, guilt and grief will pass. But in 25 per cent of survivors, symptoms may persist and develop into post traumatic stress reactions.

"Each story of trauma may be different, but because the reactions are similar, we have been able to develop good treatments that are effective," said Baranowsky. She noted that appropriate training also addresses the needs of the caregiver to deal with the "silencing response" (an experience of being overwhelmed by the stories that survivors share) and "compassion fatigue" (a combination of secondary traumatization and burnout as a result of secondary exposure).

"Compassion fatigue as a defense is a double-edged sword," said Baranowsky. "The emotional passage of wounds from the victim to the caregiver can be a devastating experience." She said the new certificate programs at York would equip caregivers with the buffers they need to deal with these issues. "Caregivers learn to become resilient in the face of their challenging work and effective in the provision of up-to-date intervention."

The non-degree Certificate courses will be offered through the Division of Continuing Education, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies. The 98-hour Certificate in Community and Workplace Intervention is designed for emergency response professionals, front line community and social service providers, crisis workers, victim advocates, chaplains and clergy, emergency managers, human resource professionals, health care practitioners and others engaged in emergency and trauma work.

The 105-hour Certificate in Clinical Intervention is designed for psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors, family therapists, employee assistance professionals, clinical supervisors, and other practitioners who provide psychological treatment and therapeutic intervention for survivors of trauma.

The Division of Continuing Education is the unit in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies charged with delivering all non-credit programs, courses and certificates. The division provides opportunities for people to enhance their professional qualifications in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing labour market, by offering a broad spectrum of courses, many of them focussed on sectors not traditionally served by the academic community. The division also offers bridging courses to assist adults in gaining admission to degree study at York University. 


For further information, please visit: or contact:

Division of Continuing Education Dr. Anna Baranowsky Susan Bigelow
Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies Traumatology Institute Media Relations
York University 416-229-1477 York University
416-736-5616 416-736-2100, ext. 22091