Crisis, Trauma, and First Response Certificate Course for Chaplains

Course Authors:
The Rev. Sue Wintz, M.Div., BCC

The Rev. William R. Greaver
The Rev. Marcos A. Miranda



Course Description:

The Crisis, Trauma, and First Response Certificate Course for Chaplains provides the basic and fundamental skills and knowledge needed in order to provide chaplaincy spiritual care to those people who have been impacted by an emergency, crisis, trauma, or disaster. Not all chaplains working in first response settings are board certified or credentialed. As a result, there has been a vast difference in skills and knowledge across those working in this capacity. First response organizations have called for a more uniform knowledge base of those chaplains who do not hold board certification or credentialing. This course and the resulting certificate fills that gap.


About the Course:

The Crisis, Trauma, and First Response Certificate Course is a self-guided course. You can complete the work online at your own leisure. You will have up to 6 months to complete the course.


Learning Outcomes include:

  • Describe the training and role of a chaplain with a certificate in crisis, trauma, and first response
  • Identify the importance of a chaplaincy code of ethics and its impact upon practice
  • Identify methods to obtain and employ knowledge of common beliefs and practices of unfamiliar cultures, religious/spiritual beliefs, or existential norms including coping, dying, and after death care of the body
  • Distinguish methods by which to identify vulnerable populations that are part of one's first response setting population cache in order to evaluate gaps in the provision of spiritual care
  • Explain effective listening habits and skills and a systematic method of listening behavior
  • Demonstrate an understanding of family systems theory
  • Articulate the process of Psychological First Aid
  • Demonstrate knowledge of currently accepted models of spiritual assessment and apply the models appropriately with clients and families
  • Effectively articulate the spiritual, religious cultural, existential, emotional, and social needs, resources, and risk factors assessed as well as identify any needed referrals
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of documentation and the place of confidentiality
  • Understand the conflicts that can occur following a death including those of families/families of choice, and associated communities and articulate appropriate interventions
  • Describe appropriate and effective spiritual care approaches to grief support
  • Articulate the chaplain's role in responding to mental health issues
  • Describe the appropriate procedures and best practices in death notification
  • Identify the steps in responding to a potential suicide attempt
  • Articulate the statements to avoid when working with families of completed suicide
  • Describe issues of spiritual distress that may be experienced as the result of an emergency and a disaster and appropriate interventions
  • Describe a typical command structure within a first response setting
  • Explain the typical roles and responsibilities of team members when there is a line of duty injury or death, including that of the chaplain
  • Articulate signs of stress experienced by first responders and their impact
  • Define compassion fatigue and burnout including their symptoms and appropriate interventions
  • Explain Critical Incident Debriefing as a tool for reduction of stress



  1. Professional Chaplains, Certificate Chaplains, Spiritual Care Generalists, and Spiritual Care of Persons
  2. Cultural Competence, Inclusion, and Vulnerable Populations
  3. Communication and Counseling Skills
  4. Spiritual Assessment and Documentation
  5. Dying and Death
  6. Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
  7. Emergency and Disaster Incidents
  8. First Response Specific Issues

Crisis, Trauma, and First Response Certificate

Upon successful completion of this online, self-guided course, you will earn the Crisis, Trauma and First Response Certificate.