M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling

News and Upcoming Events

CTC Students and Faculty Participate in Jefferson Hosted Program on Trauma Informed Practice in Community-Engaged Art

Arts and health professionals, students and community members gathered at Jefferson University’s center city campus on Saturday, December 2, 2017, to examine the intersections of trauma-informed practice and community-engaged art.  Attendees first heard a presentation from renowned psychiatrist Sandra Bloom, author of the Sanctuary model of treatment and pioneer of Trauma-Informed clinical practice.  Bloom is also a strong advocate for the arts in healthcare.  Presenters were representatives from Philadelphia arts organizations who run programs designed to promote and assist in maintaining health initiatives.  Presenters included the Delaware Valley Art Therapy Association’s (DVATA) Events Chair Stevie French, who is the Assistant Director of Community Programs for BuildaBridge.  Other organizations represented included the Village of Arts nad Humanities, the Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light Program, Warrior Writers, Paul Robeson House Museum, and Jefferson University’s Community and Trauma Counseling Program and Art Therapy Specialization.  Attendees engaged in interactive breakout groups which included art making and discussion, and enjoyed a networking lunch before a panel discussion addressing issues of social justice.

The daylong event was organized by Megan Voeller, Director of Humanities in the Jefferson Office of Student Life and Engagement as a part of the annual Dr. Yoshihisa Asano Humanities and Health Series. “Having a leading medical institution like Jefferson producing programming that furthers the conversation of the use of the creative arts and community involvement in addressing the symptoms of trauma validates what we know to be true through much research and clinical study,” said Rachel Brandoff, assistant professor of community and trauma counseling and coordinator of the art therapy specialization at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). “Trauma-informed and trauma-responsive approaches that draw on creativity help heal community and generational hurts and provide seeds for growth and resiliency.”

This event was free and open to the public.  Attendees expressed interest in continuing the conversation around arts and health as pertains to social justice issues, and Voeller confirmed Jefferson’s intention of hosting more events of this kind.

Rachel Brandoff, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Art Therapy Specialization in the CTC program served on an expert discussion and reflection panel.  Several CTC students attended and participated in this fantastic event (Photos: Thomas Jefferson University Photography Services)


The Greater Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference featured in Philadelphia Public School the Notebook

thenotebook.org featured an article on the upcoming Greater Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference (GPTTC).  Paul Jablow, a regular contributor to the Notebook, spoke with CTC Program Director Jeanne Felter about the conference, running on Jefferson's East Falls campus July 18-21.  Please visit Mr. Jablow's article here.  For details on the conference, and to register please visit the GPTTC website.


Congratulations to the M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling Class of 2017!

The two cohorts of the CTC class of 2017 walked across the stage of the Pennsylvania Convention Center on May 15, as part of the graduate commencement ceremony.  CTC graduate Warren M. Young bore the gonfalon for the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts.  

2017 Grads

Kelsey Jones, CTC class of 2018, was recognized as the valedictorian of her undergraduate class.  Kelsey joined the CTC program through the B.S. in Psychology/M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling combined five year program.

Kelsey Jones

Congratulations graduates!  Your perseverance and dedication led to this achievement, and we look forward to witnessing the impact you have on the profession and your communities throughout your careers!  

Please Join Us for The Greater Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference



The CTC Program, in association with Penn's Graduate School of Education, Lakeside Global Institute, the United Way (UWGPSNJ), Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, and our city’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, is very excited to launch this critical workforce development initiative.  The aim of the conference is to provide to people across child-serving sectors and disciplines foundational trauma training, coupled with interprofessional learning opportunities, to improve health and educational outcomes for children in our region.  

The target audience for this event includes direct service providers, supervisors, leaders, and trainers in the following disciplines/sectors:

  • Medicine/health
  • Mental/Behavioral Health
  • Child Welfare
  • Juvenile Justice,
  • K-12 Education
  • Young Child (0-5 years old)- including child care providers, early interventionists, pediatricians, etc…
  • Philanthropy

Student and group rates are available, and continuing education credits will be granted.  

We hope that you will join us for some or all of the conference, and additionally hope that you will spread the word to the greater community.  Please visit the link above for more information and to register.  This promises to be a wonderful and critically important event for Philadelphia- a city that aims to be a flagship for trauma-informed care. 

Please visit the conference website here.

CTC Celebrates Graduates and Inaugural Honor Society Inductees

On Sunday, May 7, the Community and Trauma Counseling Program met to honor our third graduating class, and to induct the first members of Delta Sigma Mu, the Philadelphia University Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota. 

Students and faculty received awards during this wonderful event.  George Glover and Emily Capelli received the Daniel Gerstein Memorial Award, established in 2015 by Fran and Stuart Gerstein in memory and honor of their son Daniel. The award is presented to a graduating student who best represents Daniel's compassionate and inspiring spirit.  The award recipient, selected by CTC faculty, serves as a leader among his/her peers, consistently models compassion for others, and demonstrates a strong investment in the health of the CTC community and the personal and professional growth of all community members.

Warren M. Young received the DSM Emerging Professional Award. The DSM Emerging Professional Award, established in 2017 by the student members of DSM, is bestowed upon a graduating student who best represents the attributes and dispositions critical to competent and ethical practice as a professional counselor. The award recipient, selected by CTC faculty, is invested in lifelong learning to further knowledge, competencies, and professional growth, embraces and incorporates feedback, is a strong client advocate, and is deeply committed ethical, compassionate counseling practice. 

The DSM Faculty Appreciation Award, established in 2017 by the student members of DSM, is bestowed upon a part-time faculty member who has exemplified the highest level of educator virtue. The award recipient, selected by CTC students, has demonstrated a consistent commitment to supporting student achievement, academic growth and open dialogue.  The CTC students have selected Sarah Powell as the 2017 award recipient and are deeply appreciative to Sarah for her encouragement, dedication, and leadership.

Over 40 members of the CTC community were inducted to Delta Sigma Mu.  DSM focuses on promoting excellence in the profession of counseling and strives to keep members focused on professional development, community engagement and wellness.  Dale Michaels served as the inaugural speaker for the honor society, which was named in his honor.

Dale Speaking       Pins

Congratulations to our graduates and inductees!  We are so proud of you all!


CTC Alum Winden Rowe Presents to House Majority Policy Committee

On April 6th, Winden Rowe, CTC Class of 2014, joined an expert panel discussing the opioid epidemic with members of the House Majority Policy Committee.

From the Chester County Press:

For panelist Winden Rowe, her work as a therapist and counselor in Kennett Square came from a call her family got 11 years ago. Her husband's best friend had overdosed after getting sober for an extended time.

“In the life of a recovering person, shame is what you and I might experience – magnified exponentially,” she said.

Rowe explained how drugs affect the brain and ultimately rewire it to crave “liquid love” in the form of a drug that goes directly to pleasure centers, giving addicts a feeling of well-being that they otherwise cannot experience.

“I have heard horrific tales of abuse,” Rowe said. “We are talking about some of the most severely wounded people, and giving them a week or 10 days to address the biology of detox is not realistic.

“This is not a disease,” Rowe said. “This is a maladapted structure that has a lot to do with how we are as a society. I've seen doctors and nurses, lawyers and bankers, too many veterans to count, children, black and white, gay and straight – this problem is everywhere, and it's everyone. It hit my family. I hope it doesn't hit yours, but the odds aren't good.

“We are in the throes of a serious, serious problem, and we are addressing it with Band-
Aids,” Rowe said. “I appreciate all the efforts of law enforcement and the judicial system, but we need to redirect the dialogue.”

The full story from the Chester County Press can be viewed on their main site.

The full video is available here.  Winden's testimony begins at the 2:00:00 mark in the recording.


Tyler Wims, CTC Class of 2017, invited to the White House *Updated*

*Update*  Please see PhilaU Today's reporting of Tyler's visit.

Second year CTC student Tyler Wims works as Director of Student Leadership for the School District of Philadelphia.  One of Tyler's many duties is to serve as the District Captain for the My Brother's Keeper Success Mentors Initiative(please visit the MBK website for more information on My Brother's Keeper). The initiative, which serves to reach and support chronically truant students with an evidence-based, data-driven mentor mode, is currently running in 26 schools. The Success Mentors Initiative is focusing on providing existing school and community resources(school staff) to drive the effort for students that are in 6th and 9th grades, where 470 students are currently supported. 

 This work is being done with the help of US Department of Education, City Year, MENTOR Affiliates, Attendance Works, and John Hopkins University, all in an effort to destroy the "school to prison pipeline" and create the "school to college or career pipeline."

In recognition of the work Tyler has been doing with My Brother's Keeper, he will be visiting President Obama at the White House on Wednesday, December 14 2016.  Please join us in congratulating Tyler on this amazing opportunity, and in expressing gratitude for the exemplary work that inspired the invitation!

NPR's Radio Times Features CTC Alum Winden Rowe

Winden Rowe, Community and Trauma Counseling class of 2014, was featured on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane on Friday, November 11, 2016.  In this Veteran's Day program, Winden joinedin a discussion around bridging the military/civilian divide.  You can listen to the show here.


Ms. Rowe has a Masters of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling from Philadelphia University, one of few trauma-focused clinical programs in the country. She did her graduate work at a dual diagnosis inpatient treatment facility where most of her clinical time was directed at traumatic exposure and substance use recovery. While there, many of her clients were veterans who had lost their VA benefits and were getting treatment via state and county-funded assistance programs. She is now in private practice in Kennett Square, PA where she treats individuals, couples, and families, and maintains a particular focus in working within veteran communities. As the daughter of a two-tour Vietnam veteran, Winden is aware of how much movement there is still to make regarding trauma, diagnosing, and effective treatment. She is an advocate for the destigmatization of mental health and the implementation of systems that are designed to be trauma-responsive and sustainably driven. In addition to clinical work, Winden enjoys speaking publically and teaching professionally regarding trauma, and has appeared in several media interviews, including NPR’s Morning Edition regarding her work with veteran communities. Her private practice is Hess & Rowe Counseling, LLC.

CTC Student Jessica Francar Awarded Melanie Foundation Scholarship

We would like to congratulate Community and Trauma Counseling student Jessica Francar.  Jessica is one of five recipients of the prestigious Melanie Foundation Scholarship for 2016.  Please see the original article on the Philadelphia University WordPress site.


Jessica Francar traveled throughout Jordan and Iraq where she studied their languages and cultures and learned about the injustices occurring there.

Philadelphia University community and trauma counseling student Jessica Francar is one of the five recipients of the Melanie Foundation 2016 Scholarship for her work with children and adults in traumatic situations.

The scholarship goes to graduate-level students in the mental health field who demonstrate commitment to helping others through the exercise of empathy and wisdom, according to the Foundation. The recipients convey their commitment to their studies both inside and outside the classroom through research, volunteering and work experience.

Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned degrees in social work and history and certificates in global cultures and African studies, Francar traveled throughout Jordan and Iraq, studying the languages and cultures and learning about the injustices occurring there. She designed, implemented and managed trauma-sensitive “child-friendly spaces” for vulnerable children displaced by ISIS, advocated for women who had been kidnapped by ISIS and provided educational assistance to refugees.

“I am really thankful for the trust and support the Melanie Foundation has in me by choosing me as a recipient of this generous scholarship,” Francar said. “I hope that I can honor that confidence through my words and actions in my personal and professional life in the years to come.”

New Book From Faculty Member Michael Shelton, LPC

We would like to congratulate our CTC faculty member, Michael Shelton, on the publication of Fundamentals of LGBT Substance Use Disorders. The book is a successor to Counseling Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Substance abusers: Dual Identities and features a foreward by the authors of that text, Dana G. Finnegan and Emily B. McNally.  Michael's book will be available soon.  Please visit the book's page on Columbia University Press' site to pre-order, read the stellar reviews, and for more information.

Fundamentals of LGBT Substance Use Disorders

Community and Trauma Counseling Program Discount for Alliance of Community Service Providers Employees

The Community and Trauma Counseling Program has joined with The Alliance of Community Service Providers to support the education of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s mental health clinicians and to aid in growing the number of competent, trauma-informed professionals in the region. 

Philadelphia University is pleased to offer a 25% tuition discount to full time and part time employees of Alliance member organizations for the M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling. 

Interested employees of Alliance member organizations may apply through the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Please join us for two exciting programs on campus

The CTC program, in partnership with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, will be offering a free screening of Portraits of Professional Caregivers in the Tuttleman auditorium at 5:30 P.M. on Thursday, April 7, 2016.  Please join us after the film for a short presentation and facilitated discussion with two of the caregivers profiled in the film; Sandra L. Bloom, M.D. and Diane Wagenhals, M.Ed., CFLE. 


Please sign up for this free event at Caregivers screening.

On Thursday, April 26,2016 at 5:00 P.M. the CTC program and The Renfrew Center Foundation will present The Art of Recovery: An Exhibit of Artwork by Women in Recovery from Eating Disorders in the Kanbar Campus Center Performance Space.  The Renfrew Center's art therapist, Sondra Rosenberg, ATR-BC, will be joined by one of the featured artists to interpret the powerful themes contained within the images.

The Art of Recovery

Please sign up for this free event at The Art of Recovery.

The CTC Community is excited to welcome Dr. Astra Czerny to the Faculty!

Astra Czerny

Dr. Astra Czerny comes to Philadelphia University with strong clinical skills, and a deep passion for clinical work and for the field of professional counseling. She completed her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling in 2009, and her Ph.D. in Counseling in 2014, both degrees earned from The University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  Astra has clinical expertise working with women and underserved populations.  She worked for the Shelter for Battered Women (now the Clyde & Ethyl Dickson Domestic Violence Shelter) in Charlotte, NC from 2009 to 2013 as a clinical counselor. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). She is also a Qualified Clinical Supervisor in North Carolina and eligible for the Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPCS) credential in NC.  In 2013, Astra opened a private practice in Davidson, NC where she specialized in trauma therapy and working with traumatized clients. She plans to continue her practice in Philadelphia upon relocation.  Astra has advanced training in addictions counseling, as well as several evidence-based interventions, including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).  She is also a certified Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist.

Astra’s scholarly work reflects her passion for counseling women and underserved populations, evidenced in her qualitative dissertation, which explored the renegotiation of boundaries for women in recovery from domestic violence. Her larger research agenda encompasses the practical aspects of the healing and empowerment journey for victims of trauma, oppression, and abuse, and she seeks to develop a conceptual model of empowerment for women healing from abuse.

Astra’s clinical and research expertise are a beautiful complement to the CTC faculty.  We look forward to her arrival on campus in July and to the many contributions she will make to the CTC Program and to Philadelphia University. 



Congratulations to the M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling Class of 2015!


We were honored to see our first class graduate at the 2015 commencement on Saturday, May 16 2015.  Congratulations graduates!  You should be extremely proud of yourselves for your hard work and dedication over these past two years.


We are also pleased to announce that 100% of our students who sat for the National Counselor Exam for Licensure and Certification(NCE) passed the exam.  Well done!  Your perseverance and preparation paid off.

Mortar Board



One of our amazing part time faculty members was featured recently in an entry on acesconnection.com.  The original posting, written by Sylvia Paull, can be found here.

Children’s Behavior Health Clinic Integrates ACEs Screening To Tailor Treatment

Harry AllenWhen children and their parents first visit Northeast Treatment Centers (NET) Children’s Behavior Health Services in Philadelphia, they fill out a 10-question survey about their adverse childhood experiences so that therapists can tailor treatment that may result in better outcomes.


The parents are asked about their own childhood adversity, and they also fill out the survey for their children under the age of 12. Teens answer the questions themselves. The survey came out of the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study.


Harry Allen, director of Outpatient and Specialized Services at NET Children’s Behavioral Health says the 10-question ACE survey is the simplest tool for evaluating an outpatient’s needs. Other tools for informing a therapist about a child’s traumatic experiences are more complicated and require the therapist to first develop a rapport with the family. An ACEs assessment, on the other hand, can be used at the first visit with the child and parent because it’s simple to complete and helps to establish an immediate connection between the therapist and the family. Therapists began using the ACEs screening in mid-April.  


“Educating parents in this process is crucial,” says Allen. He adds that staff appreciates the value of the ACEs integration into the treatment process because “many of our referrals have a significant trauma at the core of their family system.”


At the second weekly visit, the child and parent will work out a treatment plan targeted toward a specific trauma. For example, for a child who has experienced domestic violence, treatment might be focused on coping skills to deal with associated triggers, such as a teacher yelling at the student. Coping skills could include learning deep breathing skills or squeezing a ball to control and re-channel the patient’s immediate reactions. In addition, the therapist might suggest a referral for the parent.


Sometimes, the child will request a visit without the parent, and then the therapist will see the child for a session or two. But then the family will be asked to return.


“We prefer to see the whole family, because working with the child alone, you really don’t know what’s happening with the rest of the family,” says Allen.


Every 120 days or four months, treatment is reviewed and updated, so it’s another opportunity for an ACEs screen.


Referrals to his clinic, says Allen, who also teaches at Philadelphia University’s master’s program in Trauma and Community Counseling, come from outside agencies and also from internal sources such as its intensive family therapy in-home program (Family Focused Behavioral Health), School Therapeutic Services, and the many drug and alcohol programs that NET operates throughout Philadelphia. All 140 new outpatients who enter the clinic every six months – treatment averages six months, with 280 outpatients total – qualify for medical assistance and are treated for free.


What happens if the parents are engaged in domestic violence, or there has been sex or physical abuse of the child? “If the child’s safety is compromised, we have to report that to the Department of Human Services, which will visit the family home within 24 hours,” says Allen. “DHS can provide support and it’s an opportunity for us to help minimize these behaviors. DHS decides whether the child is removed or not.”


Usually, says Allen, the parent or family member who brings a child to the clinic is not the one abusing the child.


Training 16 therapists to incorporate the ACEs tool for the clinic, which now treats 280 clients, took only two weeks. Therapists were trained on an individual basis and first went over the ACEs publications and related research. “This is such a rich tool,” says Allen. “It’s not just ten random questions.”


Since this system was just adopted, Allen says it will take a while to evaluate its effectiveness and develop specific treatment protocols correlated to ACEs scores and types of ACEs. Staff will collect data on how many outpatients have a high ACE score – more than a 3 – and will correlate that with a consumer satisfaction survey that asks outpatients after each visit to rate the therapist on a scale of 1 to 4 on four different questions. In this way, the clinic hopes to assess outcomes of the ACEs integration into its treatment and develop ACEs-based treatment protocols. 

ACEsConnection: A community of practice uses trauma-informed, resilience building practices to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences(ACEs), and to change systems to stop traumatizing already traumatized people.

The CTC Program is excited to be hosting this upcoming event on campus, open to the Philadelphia University community and the larger public.

Renfrew Philadelphia University Art Therapy Exhibit

Renfrew Philadelphia University Art Therapy Exhibit