Using the core curriculum on childhood trauma to strengthen clinical knowledge in evidence-based practitioners

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2014;43(2):286-300. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2013.865192. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


The high prevalence of trauma exposure in mental health service-seeking populations, combined with advances in evidence-based practice, competency-based training, common-elements research, and adult learning make this an opportune time to train the mental health workforce in trauma competencies. The Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma (CCCT) utilizes a five-tiered conceptual framework (comprising Empirical Evidence, Core Trauma Concepts, Intervention Objectives, Practice Elements, and Skills), coupled with problem-based learning, to build foundational trauma knowledge and clinical reasoning skills. We present findings from three studies: Study 1 found that social work graduate students' participation in a CCCT course (N = 1,031) was linked to significant pre-post increases in self-reported confidence in applying core trauma concepts to their clinical work. Study 2 found significant pre-post increases in self-reported conceptual readiness (N = 576) and field readiness (N = 303) among social work graduate students participating in a "Gold Standard Plus" educational model that integrated classroom instruction in core trauma concepts, training in evidence-based trauma treatment (EBTT), and implementation of that EBTT in a supervised field placement. Students ranked the core concepts course as an equivalent or greater contributor to field readiness compared to standard EBTT training. Study 3 used qualitative methods to "distill" common elements (35 intervention objectives, 59 practice elements) from 26 manualized trauma interventions. The CCCT is a promising tool for educating "next-generation" evidence-based practitioners who possess competencies needed to implement modularized, individually tailored trauma interventions by strengthening clinical knowledge, clinical reasoning, and familiarity with common elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Competency-Based Education*
  • Curriculum*
  • Evidence-Based Practice*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Psychiatric Nursing / education
  • Students
  • Workforce