International Trauma Studies Certificate Program
Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey in Collaboration with The International Trauma Studies Program
And The Columbia University Global Center - Istanbul

This program is a partnership between Istanbul Bilgi University and the International Trauma Studies Program to establish a certificate program for mental health and other professionals working with trauma survivors. Ultimately, it serves the needs of diverse traumatized populations by ensuring that there is a growing cadre of professionals who are trained to effectively address their sensitivities.


Taking into consideration the continuing, profound, and various types of trauma in Turkey, Istanbul Bilgi University is partnering with the International Trauma Studies Program, which has been operating since 1997 in New York, to establish an interdisciplinary and clinically-oriented certificate program in which international and national trauma experts will teach solid theoretical and clinical skills to mental health and other professionals who work or want to work for trauma survivors.

Workshops began in October 2012 and will continue till July 2013. They are led by international and Turkish trauma experts and take place once a month over the weekends. The program is designed to accommodate the different groups that come into contact with trauma survivors: the first group consists of civil society practitioners, social workers, lawyers, journalists, etc. while the second group is made up clinical psychologists.

200 individuals from all over Turkey applied to the program, of which a total of 57 were accepted (32 in Module 1, 25 in Module 2). It is significant that 20% of the participants hail from outside Istanbul (Hakkari, Tokat, Diyarbak?r, Bart?n, Zonguldak, and Samsun). Grant funding by Open Society Institute underwrites scholarships to cover fees, which is a major factor for the participants.

Indeed, one of the unique features of the program is that a majority of the students received scholarships to take the program with the agreement that they in return will devote a certain number of hours working for a program or populations. In this way the program has the potential to have greater impact on the development of services for trauma affected populations. The participants who were awarded a scholarship (tuition reduction or waiver) have already started to work on a “voluntary” basis for a certain period of time at an NGO that gives services to trauma survivors.

Project Team

International Program Director: Jack Saul, Columbia University; Director, International Trauma Studies Program (ITSP)
International Program Coordinator: Søren Buus Jensen, Senior Mental Health Advisor, Psychiatric Clinic, Denmark; International Coordinator ITSP, Columbia University, NYC.
Project Coordinator: Asst. Prof. Murat Paker, Psychology Department, Istanbul Bilgi University
Project Director: Asst. Prof. Ayten Zara, Psychology Department, Istanbul Bilgi University

Program Content

Intended outcomes
• To learn how to work with victims of torture, domestic violence, sexual abuse, refugees, abandoned and street children, victims of natural disasters,
• To learn how to do outreach trauma work,
• To learn how to develop and implement crisis intervention and trauma therapy in NGOs and multidisciplinary setting, and
• To develop and implement violence and trauma prevention programs.

Topics covered
• Trauma and its effects on individuals, couples, families, different social groups and society overall,
• Types of trauma: natural disaster, accidents, war, torture, organized violence, migration, domestic violence, gender based violence, etc.,
• Clinical approaches to alleviating the negative effects of trauma: diagnosis, treatment, protection. From individual to society, various levels of intervention,
• Psycho-political analysis,
• International human rights law, and
• Transitional justice.

Although most of the trainings are clinically-oriented, the program asks participants to develop an integrated bio-psycho-socio-political point of view with the contribution of other disciplines such as psycho-political analysis, international human rights law, and transitional justice.


The program takes place over ten months from October 2012 to July 2013, with a total of 14 workshops taking place over one weekend per month (14 hours total on the weekends). Workshops are given by five Turkish and five international trauma experts.

The Trauma Program consists of two different modules.

Module 1 has 25 participants with the background of journalism, political science, social work and law. The main motivation of Module 1 participants is to understand how different kinds of trauma effects people. 65 hours of workshops, no supervised group work.

Module 2 has 32 participants with a background in clinical psychology and psychiatry who have a high motivation to learn how to work clinically with trauma survivors. 140 hours of workshops, with an additional 40 hours of supervised group-work.

• October 2012: International Program Coordinator Søren Buus Jensen, “Trauma: Understanding, healing and prevention: individual, family and collective aspects of working with trauma.”
• November 2012: Presentations by five international trauma experts. Renos Papadopolous discussed family and narrative approaches in working with refugees. Sandra Bloom gave a presentation about the sanctuary model. Winnifred Simon discussed staff welfare and team support in humanitarian assistance. Jack Saul and Steven Reisner gave a talk about individual collective trauma and recovery.
• December 2012: Ayten Zara on traumatic loss and grief, Doğan Sahin on complex trauma, Cengiz K?l?ç on post-traumatic growth, and Murat Paker on using the integrative-psychodynamic approach in working with trauma survivors.
• January 2013: international Program Director Jack Saul and international trauma expert Winnifred Simon talked about promoting individual and collective recovery in response to mass trauma and developing stress management programs for organizations
• February 2013: Peykan Gökalp on trauma and self-harm, Şahika Yüksel on gender based violence, Seven Kaptan on discrimination and homophobia.
• March 2013: Peter Fraenkel on Developmental Effects of Trauma across the Spectrum: Traumatized Children and treatment approaches. Türkay Demir on traumatized children in Turkey.
• April 2013: Responding to natural disaster and risk assessment procedure, with Nuray Karanc? on clinical concerns, psychiatric first help with Peykan Gökalp, and psychological first aid and emergency or acute-term interventions with Ufuk Sezgin.
• May 2013: Best Practices in the Trauma Field, featuring leading NGO practitioners. Haf?za Merkezi (Truth, Justice and Memory Studies Center), Murat Çelikkan; TOHAV Foundation for Society and Legal Studies, Hakan Gündüz; Medecins San Frontieres, Öznür Acicbe; Working and Street Children of Diyarbakir Project, Serra Müderisoğlu; MorÇat? Women’s Shelter, Feride Güneri; Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, ?ebnem Korur Financ? and Hürriyet Şener; LAMBDA/LBGT; Diyarbakir Prison Truth and Justice Committee, Celalettin Can and Nimet Tanr?kulu.
• June 2013: Political violence from a psycho-political perspective, Turkish Kurdish conflict, Turkish-Armenian conflict with Murat Paker. Transitional justice with Ozan Erözden. International human rights law with Turgut Tarhanl?.
• July 2013: Trauma: Understanding, healing and prevention with Sören Buus Jensen.

Fee Structure

Module 1 (65 hours theory-based workshops)
2000 TL (or 2050 TL paid in installments over five months)

Module 2 (140 hours theory-based workshops + 40 hours supervision)
6500 TL (or 6800 TL paid in installments over ten months)

Those receiving a full scholarship are required to volunteer at an NGO the equivalent of one month full-time (160 hours) for Module 1 participants, two-months full-time (320 hours) for Module 2 participants. Volunteering requirements vary with the amount of the scholarship (halved if 50% scholarship is received).