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Introduction to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This course is recognized for the purposes of continuing education in psychotherapy by the L’Ordre de Psychologues du Quebec (OPQ).
Recognition No: RA00756-14 (7 hours)

Course Description

This online course allows participants to gain fundamental knowledge about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as described in DSM‐IV‐TR . Participants – professionals or students in mental health – will learn how to recognize the symptoms associated with PTSD and assess their frequency and intensity. This course also allows participants to familiarize themselves with the concepts of distress and peritraumatic dissociation.
By the end of this course, participants will be able to offer additional support to victims of traumatic experiences, with the capacity to assess:

  • PTSD (in a clinical context and in a triage situation following a wide-scale traumatic event such as a terrorist attack),
  • Peritraumatic stress
  • Peritraumatic dissociation

This course uses the APA (American Psychiatric Association)'s DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) diagnostic criteria to define the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.


About the teacher

As a clinical psychologist and associate professor for McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Alain Brunet has been investigating the impact of trauma exposure for more than fifteen years, with a special focus on characterizing risk factors and developing effective treatments for PTSD, such as early intervention or reconsolidation blockade. The latter was highlighted by Québec Science magazine as one of the top 10 discoveries of the year in 2008 in Quebec.

In 2001, Alain Brunet developed the Peritraumatic Distress Inventory or PDI – the first instrument to assess the extent to which an individual experiences distress at the time of the traumatic event and in the minutes and hours that follow. Translated into 11 languages, the PDI is currently being utilized by more than 30 research teams around the world.

Alain Brunet is editor in chief of the International Journal of Victimology and the assistant editor of the Journal of Traumatic Stress. In 2008, he founded a website aimed at disseminating knowledge and resources to victims and professionals in the field of post-traumatic stress disorders.

This course was developed jointly with Christophe Herbert, a clinical psychologist in France and coordinator of specialized research into trauma and the Internet and mental health at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. Christophe Herbert is also the executive editor for the International Journal of Victimology ( and the coordinator of the website.

Learning objectives

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Broadly define basic concepts related to trauma
  • Recognize and assess symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder according to DSM-IV-TR, peritraumatic distress as well as peritraumatic dissociation
  • Assess for symptoms of psychological distress following a wide-scale traumatic event (eg.: terrorist attack) by having the capacity to effectively execute a psychological triage
  • Use the following scientifically-validated diagnostic tests: Semi-structured clinical interview (Montreal Clinician Administered PTSD Scale; M-CAPS), the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), the Peritraumatic Distress Inventory (PDI) and the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experience Questionnaire (PDEQ).


  • Presentation of the Info-trauma website providing essential information about the post-traumatic stress disorder and resources for professionals:
    - History of trauma
    - Definition trauma
    - Differences between tress and trauma
    - The PTSD?
    - The dissociation
    - What is resilience?
    - What is debriefing? Is it considered effective?
    - Pharmacology and psychological trauma
  • Readings and downloadable tools to assess immediate and post-immediate reactions after a disaster:
    - Case Studies
    - Downloadable Rapid Triage Kit
    - Downloadable Rapid Diagnostic Kit
    - Printable Guide for Victims
  • Interactive online training modules with three video vignettes featuring all post-traumatic symptoms through an interview between an expert in mental health and a person suffering from PTSD.
  • Advice and tips on life skills for victims are provided throughout  the Info-trauma website and the interactive online training modules.
  • A test of 60 multiple-choice questions on trauma, assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder as well as on how to behave with victims.


This training is available exclusively online and utilizes an autonomous format. Participants must demonstrate independence and be comfortable with the online training format. The Introduction to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder training is currently available in English and French.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this training intended for?

This training targets mostly health professionals such as clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, nurses, psychosocial intervention specialists, psychotherapists and other mental health professionals and students.

What are the prerequisites for this training?

There are no prerequisites for this training.

What is the duration of this training?

It will take approximately seven hours to complete the training. However, the training is made up of activities that should take no more than 90 minutes each to complete, and each activity can be completed independently. Once you begin an activity, make sure you have enough time to complete it; otherwise, you may have to repeat the activity. The learning material is available at all times.

How long do I have to complete this training?

You have 30 days from the date of enrolment to complete the training.

What is the enrolment process?

Enrolment involves three steps:

  1. Checking to make sure your computer is compatible
  2. Registration
  3. Payment

Once you have completed the first three steps, you will receive via email the information you need to connect to the learning interface. Information on the enrolment process and connecting to the training site is detailed in the iTrauma Quick Start Guide.

Can I be reimbursed for the training costs?

Once you start the training by connecting to the learning system, the enrolment fees can no longer be reimbursed.

Do I need to get any additional training material?

No. All documents related to this training are available online from the learning interface or at the web site.

What does the evaluation consist of?

This training consists of two evaluation modules, an interactive interview with a virtual patient and a multiple choice exam. You have up to three attempts to complete each evaluation.

Will I receive a certificate to confirm that I successfully completed the training?

If 60% or more of your answers in the two evaluation modules are correct, you can download and print an attestation of completion from McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies.

Is my computer compatible?

The course is optimized for the following configurations:
  • Windows 7 or higher, MAC OS X
  • High-speed Internet connection (DSL or cable)
  • Headsets with microphone (USB recommended)
  • Webcam
  • Latest versions of Firefox, Chrome or Safari
  • Microsoft Office Word or compatible

Is technical or administrative support available?

As soon as you have completed the enrolment process, support for any technical or administrative questions you may have is available by telephone or email from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. between Monday to Thursday and on Fridays until 5:00 p.m. (in Canada, Eastern Standard Time).



Unless a specific agreement has been reached between your organization and the School of Continuing Studies, the cost to enrol in this training is $149.00 (CAD) plus taxes, payable by credit card (Visa or Master Card). Click the button below to begin the enrolment process.

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