Examination of trauma training for postgraduate psychology students

Andrea Sadusky, Emily P. Berger, Lioudmila Toporkova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Psychologists are at the forefront of assessing and treating clients who been affected by trauma. This study determined the proportion of Australian postgraduate psychology courses that provide training on trauma in coursework units. Method: Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyse the trauma-related contents of online unit handbooks from Masters of Psychology courses that were offered in 2019. Results: Forty-two unit handbooks from 25 courses delivered by 16 institutions explicitly mentioned trauma-related content, equating to 31.65% of courses included in the present study. Of those unit handbooks, 30 were unique (i.e., not duplicates across courses at the same institution). Content analysis of the unit handbooks revealed (a) trauma was most commonly discussed as a disorder (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, stressor-related disorders) and (b) postgraduate psychology students were often taught about trauma-related assessment, intervention and theory. Conclusions: Trauma training appears limited within postgraduate psychology coursework in Australia. Further research is warranted into how well-prepared psychology graduates are to work with clients who have been exposed to trauma. Such preparedness is vital in the current Australian climate whereby many individuals are impacted by potentially traumatic loss or adversity, for example, due to bushfires and COVID-19. KEY POINTS What is already known about this topic: The effects of traumatisation are highly variable across individuals and thus psychologists must be well-informed about the different presentations of trauma. Trauma- and stressor-related disorders are often challenging to treat and psychologists must be well-trained in appropriate interventions for doing so. Mental health practitioners often lack the appropriate support and training in addressing the needs of clients who have been affected by traumatising events. What this topic adds: Only a minority of postgraduate psychology courses in Australia appeared to contain information about trauma. Further research is warranted to continue to explore psychologists’ training and competency development in trauma-informed practice. Systemic changes to postgraduate psychology courses are required to ensure all provisional psychologists receive foundational knowledge and skills in supporting clients who have been impacted by trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Course syllabi
  • curriculum
  • postgraduate training
  • provisional psychologist
  • skills and competencies

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