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Trauma Academy



Provide the skills necessary to impart healing and primary prevention that will address adverse childhood experiences, race-based trauma, and community violence by offering trainings, conferences, webinars, certificate programs, and community outreach.


To create a pipeline of healing professionals trained to provide culturally responsive and trauma–informed care.

DSU’s Trauma Academy will focus on imparting knowledge and values that enable helping professionals to skillfully engage in service delivery to individuals who were impacted by toxic stress.

The DSU Trauma Academy also offers various training and educational opportunities that will enhance a participant’s understanding of trauma and the developmental impact that it can have on an individual.

The Delaware State University Trauma Academy was established to respond to two clarion calls. The first, the nationwide responsibility to respond to the growing awareness of the long-term impact of trauma on individuals, communities, and society at large. The second, to promote a culture of healing and mental health in underserved populations thought focused training and education for practitioners and those entering the human service fields.   

Through certificate programs, empowering students, community engagement, professional development, and engaged research, the Academy seeks to improve wellness outcomes throughout the state of Delaware.  

Certificates and Professional Development

Trauma Healing Certificate

The certificate program, Healing Trauma from an African Centered Healing Approach is made up of six courses with the goal to give students who study mental health intervention, as well as mental health practitioners and other professionals, the opportunity to explore healing from an African-Centered paradigm that is different than mainstream world view and values that undergird standard therapeutic approaches. This alternative healing paradigm is designed to build resilience in children, adults and communities exposed to trauma and toxic stress. The certificate program is designed to provide alternative treatment options for diverse populations in an effort to move from a Eurocentric approach to one that addresses the needs of oppressed populations.

The goal of the program is to give students who study mental health intervention and practitioners, as well as other professionals, the opportunity to explore healing from an African-centered approach through this six-course certificate program. The program aims to orient or re-orient participants to an African-centered paradigm that is different than mainstream world view and values that undergird standard therapeutic approaches. This alternative, healing paradigm is designed to build resilience in children, adults and communities exposed to trauma and toxic stress.


  1. Analyze mental health from a Black perspective, and orient or re-orient participants to an African Centered Paradigm that can be distinguished from a Eurocentric approach to trauma treatment.

  2. Understand the biopsychosocial spiritual manifestations of trauma particularly when intersected with racism.
  3. Demonstrate the approach ethically and professionally in diverse communities and sub-communities. 



Domestic Violence Specialist Certificate

Offered in 100% online or hybrid formats, Delaware State University’s Domestic Violence Specialist Certificate Program is designed to strengthen the workforce by training domestic violence/sexual assault advocates to work with all populations — but particularly underserved survivors — and to address the needs of oppressed communities.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental and foundational knowledge of domestic violence and sexual assault, including the history; gender issues, empowerment, power/control; family dynamics; risk assessment/safety planning; community resources; and ethical responsibilities.
  • Understand and apply an increased cultural humility and competency particularly with underserved populations to include but not be limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and ability.
  • Assess and demonstrate intervention with those impacted by trauma, spanning developmental stages from childhood to elder populations.
  • Evaluate evidenced-based interventions and policy trends, practices and advocacy that impact micro-, mezzo- and macro system-level practice with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Understand criminal and civil justice systems that impact perpetrators as well as victims.


Course # Course Name Credits
WMGS-201 Intro to Women & Gender Studies 3
SCCJ-309 Men & Women in Society 3
WMGS-319 OR SCCJ-415 Intersectionality OR Victimology 3
SCWK-402 Family/IP Violenc 3
SCWK-410 Issues in SS Delivery 3
SCWK-450 Field Practicum 3
  Total Credits 18


The Domestic Violence Specialist Certificate Program requires the completion of 18 credits, plus additional internship hours with an agency specializing in domestic violence services under a DVS supervision. The program provides students with the opportunity to graduate with domestic violence/sexual assault coursework, preparing them to work as advocates and to be well on their way to certification.


  • No history of violent behavior for five years; review of complete criminal and substance abuse history;
  • Submit a Criminal Background Check from the State of Delaware, state of residence and state of employment (or verification of background check from employer);
  • Abide by the Professional Code of Ethics of Delaware Domestic Violence Specialist;
  • Complete 2,000 hours of service in the area of practice (direct services/systems advocacy and/or prevention);
  • Complete 70 clock hours (110 clock hours for Dual Certification) of Training and Education with documentation;
  • Complete 12 hours of mentoring sessions with a DCADV Certified Domestic Violence Specialist;
  • Submit three evaluations — one each from a supervisor, a colleague and a local community agency — and a self-evaluation.


Students should apply through their advisor or by contacting Dr. Eleanor Kiesel at ekiesel [at] desu.edu.

Students are encouraged to apply early in their academic career at Delaware State University and/or prior to taking electives in order to fit the certificate requirements into the existing major program

Professional Development

DSU’s Trauma Academy offers various trainings and educational opportunities that enhance participants’ understanding of trauma and the developmental impact that it can have on an individual or organization. DSU’s Trauma Academy is unique because of the substantial attention given to informing participants about how one’s cultural background can determine their orientation and philosophical beliefs towards the healing process and resiliency. Strength-based practice with diverse populations are highlighted along with a focus on the identification of protective factors that cultivate resilience and support healthy emotional and psychological development.  Workshop presenters are experienced facilitators in their fields.   Workshops have been provided for the following topics:

  • Trauma 101
  • Conflict Management
  • Self-Care
  • Team Building
  • Diversity Equity and Inclusion
  • Organizational Trauma

All sessions are developed through collaborative meetings with the requesting organization.  Sessions can be developed to meet the specialized needs of your organization.


Mental Health Ambassadors

The Mental Health and Trauma Ambassadors will help to promote emotional wellbeing and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide that is still so prevalent within BIPOC communities

Ambassadors are responsible for educating their peers on the Delaware State University campus and the surrounding community about the importance of wellness from a mental lens, the impact of historical trauma on individuals and communities, the need and power of showing empathy to others, and the responsibility that each of us has as a member of a collective community.

Essential Functions

  • Challenge mental health stigma through a minimum of 3 group peer education events.
  • Engage social media as a tool for positive mental health promotion.
  • Serve as a bridge to formal mental health supports and resources.
  • Educate faculty and staff on mental health and trauma from a student lens.

Task Force Members

  • Dr. Gwendolyn Scott-Jones
  • Dr. Eleanor Kiesel
  • Ms. Leandra Casson
  • Dr. Wade G. Jones
  • Dr. Michelle Ratcliff
  • Ms. Kim Graham, Director

Trauma Academy Staff

Dr. Gwendolyn Scott-Jones, Dean
Trauma Academy Executive Director
Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences
gscottjones [at] desu.edu

Kim Graham
Trauma Academy Director

Leandra Casson
Trauma Academy Coordinator


For more information: 
Kim Graham,  M.A., LMSW
Trauma Academy Director
kgraham [at] desu.edu