CTS Course FAQs

Who is this course for?

For five years The International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaching has been offering courses to those wishing to become Trauma Recovery Coaches. Lately, they have had people ask for a certification course for those who don’t want to coach, but that still offers the high-quality education about trauma and how it impacts individuals that the IAOTRC is known for and has a track record of providing.

In response to those requests, the Association launched its Certified Trauma Specialist program in January of 2023. These courses are specifically designed to provide students who don’t wish to offer healing interventions, but who instead wish to incorporate a knowledge of trauma into their existing profession – teachers and other school staff members, clergy people and church staff, non-profit agency staff, those who work in medical and dental offices…the list is limitless.

Sadly, trauma surrounds us everywhere. If your business serves people, it serves trauma survivors. Knowing how to best support your customers and create policies, procedures and processes that make you able to serve them more effectively is what the Certified Trauma Specialist course is all about.

What will I learn?

  • The definition of trauma, its subtypes, and classifications, including moral injury
  • The biological aftereffects of trauma on the brain, nervous system and the body systemically including Polyvagal Theory
  • The psychological aftereffects of trauma
  • The emotional aftereffects of trauma
  • The relational aftereffects of trauma
  • The Parish Trauma Response Model – a framework for how people respond to and recover from trauma
  • The intersection of trauma, attachment and childhood psychosocial development
  • Healthy and toxic shame
  • Somatic trauma responses including Fear and Shame Adaptation
  • Understanding and de-pathologizing trauma coping strategies
  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Understanding the multi-dimensionality of trauma survivors, being able to understand trauma in the context of social, gender, racial, ethnic and historical frameworks
  • Relationship rupture and repair in the context of trauma
  • What is trauma informed care and how can you incorporate it into your business’ policies, procedures and processes as well as understanding the needs of your clients who are trauma survivors
  • How to work with trauma survivors safely
  • How to remain centered, grounded and anchored in your work which benefits you as well as the clients you work with who have experienced trauma

Achara’s Certified Trauma Specialist Class will include all of the general information stated in the course description with an additional deep dive into accessing Self- Energy while living with the aftereffects of trauma on a daily basis. All material taught in class will be examined through the lens of Self Energy and Mindful Self Compassion, specifically how trauma affects your relationship to Self, others, and the world around you. This class is designed as an interactive learning experience with skills gained through using tools like curiosity and compassion to support you in personal and professional environments.

How are the classes provided?

All of the courses are offered online with live and recorded instruction.

Who is teaching the course?

The Association has accredited Achara Tarfa, one of our most qualified coaches to teach this course. Not only is she a coach credentialed as a Supervisor, our highest level of coaching certification, but she has years of experience working in the field of trauma.

Achara is not only certified as a Supervisor level trauma recovery coach, received Group Certification training, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Disorders, but has taken courses from Dr. Kristen Neff and Dr. Chris Germer on Mindful Self-Compassion & Shame, the IFS Institute on Internal Family Systems, Dr. Dan Siegel on Interpersonal Neurobiology, Deb Dana, LSCW on Polyvagal Theory applied to trauma, and Linda Thai, LMSW on Somatic Embodiment & Resilience. She has personally been selected to receive 1:1 demonstrations with Dr. Gabor Mate founder of Compassionate Inquiry and Dr. Richard Schwartz, founder of Internal Family Systems with whom she attends a consultation group through the IFS Institute.

Achara is a former student advisor to the Provost of Multi-Cultural Affairs at Auburn University, a current 6-time panelist for the Trauma Research Foundation’s Book Club, serves as a two term elected supervisor to her local district where she brings a trauma-informed voice to local policy, and a board member of PATH, an IFS informed addiction & recovery global online support group. She is also pursuing her Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Trainer Certification, Level 1 IFS training, and is Co-Creator of a new IAOTRC course on Polyvagal Theory, Parts Work, and Mindful Self-Compassion with IAOTRC founder Bobbi Parish.

When are these courses being offered?

There are courses offered throughout the week, during different times of the day.

Course Option #1: Tuesdays at 10am EST starting 1/31/23

Course Option #2: Wednesdays at 7pm EST starting 2/1/23

How long does the course last?

The Spring 2023 CTS course is will run from Jan 31st until April 12.

What is the cost?

The course costs $2000 USD. Payment plans are available. However all payments must be received before certification is given.

What are the certification requirements?

The Association has required reading and homework. The course requires you to read Bessel Van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score and Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. It recommends you read Richard Schwartz’s No Bad Parts and Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.

After you have completed the course, Achara will let the Association know that you have completed all your homework to a satisfactory level and paid your tuition in full. Then you will take an examination through the Association, which you must pass with a score of at least 80%.

After you meet those three requirements you will be credentialed as a Certified Trauma Specialist. Your credential will come from The International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaching.

Once you are credentialed you will be listed on our new directory of Certified Trauma Specialists.

Your credential will be good for two years. If you wish to renew your credential you must obtain 15 hours of Continuing Education credits, complete a Code of Ethics Review and pay a certification renewal fee of $50.

You can review the Certified Trauma Specialist Code of Ethics and the Guiding Principles.

Limitations with the Certified Trauma Specialist Credential

The Certified Trauma Specialist course gives an individual an in depth knowledge of trauma, the various forms that it takes, how it might impact an individual as well as ways that this information can be integrated into a career or business in order to provide trauma informed services. You may offer trauma informed interactions, psychoeducation and formulate policies and procedures that are trauma informed in your and other’s businesses.

For example, if one is a teacher they can use their certification as a Trauma Specialist to make their classroom experience more trauma informed as well as having the ability to understand the behaviors and responses of their students through a trauma informed lens.

If one is a business owner, they can use their certification as a Trauma Specialist to develop policies and procedures that make it safer and easier for trauma survivors to access their services, as well as understanding why some of their customers may have the needs and responses they do in interacting with your business.

However, certification as a Trauma Specialist does not give you skills to serve as an interventional helping professional in any manner. You may not use it to coach, treat or help a trauma survivor heal in any capacity. This would be a breach of the Certified Trauma Specialist Code of Ethics and could jeopardize your credential.

If you complete the Certified Trauma Specialist course and decide you wish to continue on with your education through the Association to get your coaching credential you may join our Certified Trauma Recovery Coaching Course for a reduced tuition rate of $1500. You can move into the course in progress the week of April 17, 2023. We will make a link available to complete that registration to you after you have enrolled in your CTS course. 

Registering for the Certified Trauma Specialist Course

After you review the course, when you register you will pay a non-refundable deposit equaling 25% of the cost of the course. The Association will collect initial registration information from you, ask you to complete our course agreement (which you can review here) and invite you into our learning platform, Mighty Networks. From there Achara will contact you and provide you with information specific to your course, set up remaining payments and request any additional information I might need from you.

More Questions?

If you have questions about this specific course. Please reach out to Achara Tarfa, BS, CTRC-S at hello@acharatarfa.com or http://www.acharatarfa.com.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw

What People Say

“As a result of working with Achara, my life has been radically directed towards beneficial life choices.”


“Achara listens with intentionality. She has the natural ability to be present in the moment with someone all the while connecting all the dots.”


“She is the epitome of LOVE but even better, Achara coaches others how to be the same. “


What is Trauma Informed Care?