Acute Stress, Grief and Trauma – CRIS 606

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

This course will provide a foundation of the theoretical concepts associated with the impact and consequences of acute stress on victims, first responders, families, and community members, taking into account the process of grief and loss, complicated grief, dying, death, and bereavement, and the long term consequences of unresolved trauma. Particular attention is paid to the treatment of the human stress response, effective counseling strategies, methods and techniques for immediate response, comorbidity, anxiety and depression, abuse, impact dynamics of crisis and trauma, survivor guilt, and cultural sensitivity.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


The definition of stress is becoming broader as anxiety and stress-related illnesses are now one of the major contributors to mental illness in the United States. According to the American Institute of Stress, 1/3 of the nation experiences “extreme stress,” 77% report stress that affects their physical health, and 73% report stress that affects their mental health. The various physical, emotional, and spiritual ailments caused by stress have been well documented across a plethora of sources. The ability to work through acute stress can mitigate the effects of long-term trauma in the lives of those impacted. The combined strategies of effective psychological first aid and grief counseling can relieve the acute stress response, foster resiliency, promote the healing process, and mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the life of a traumatized individual.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions: Threads and Replies (4)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. The student will participate in four (4) Discussions throughout this course. Each consists of two (2) parts: the thread and the replies. For each discussion, the student will submit a thread of at least 450 words discussing the topic given in that Module: Week. The student will then submit replies of at least 250 words each to at least two (2) classmates. Threads must contain at least 2 scholarly sources and at least one scriptural application to support the post. All posts must be written in a substantive manner, without spelling and grammar errors. Current APA or Turabian formatting and style is required. (CLO: A-K)

Research Project Series

The student will conduct a comprehensive research project throughout the course. The student will conduct a field interview with a crisis professional, create a research paper, and synthesize the research in a slideshow presentation.

Research Paper Topic Assignment

The student will choose a specific topic to research throughout the course. The student will research a topic that is relevant to modern crisis counseling, grief, stress, and trauma. The topic will be the basis for his or her interview, research paper, and slideshow presentation. (CLO: A, B, C, K, L).

Field Interviewee Candidate Proposal Assignment

The student will identify a crisis professional to interview for the research project. The student will submit the professional’s name, title, location, qualifications, and years of experience in crisis counseling for his or her proposed interviewee for instructor approval. The proposed candidate must have direct experience in the topic area. (CLO: A, L).

Field Interview Assignment

The student will gain interviewing experience by conducting a semi-structured interview with a professional with direct experience in the area of their approved research topic. Interviews typically last about one (1) hour and should be conducted with someone who is not known by the student. While there is no formal assignment based upon the interview, interview data must be woven into the research paper as an important resource as well as utilized in the slideshow presentation. (CLO: A, B, J, K, L).

Research Paper Assignment

The student will create a 12-15-page Research Paper compiling the research gathered from the field interview, course content, literature review, and major theories of crisis counseling. The student will integrate biblical principles with the research to produce a Christian perspective on the paper. The following key components are required: 1) mental health symptoms and relational dynamics commonly found in the chosen population; 2) best practices in crisis intervention with this specific population; 3) any specific cultural concerns or considerations; and 4) spiritual application/integration. The student will create suggestions for future research based on the research findings in the Conclusion portion of the report. The current edition of APA or Turabian formatting is required. (CLO: A, B, C, J, K, L).

Discussion: Slideshow and Critiques Special Project

Part 1: The student will gain experience in developing a slideshow workshop presentation by creating a 10-12 slide presentation using PowerPoint or a similar software. The student will discuss the key findings of their Field Interview and Research Paper in a slideshow format to share with the class. The presentation must be concise, graphically appealing, include biblical application and academic sources, and demonstrate proper APA or Turabian format in citations/references. This project is the cumulative part of the research series where the student shares their expertise on their selected topic.

Part 2: The student will learn to develop proper professional critiques by responding to at least 1 of his or her classmates’ slideshows in 250+ word formal critique which must include strengths, weaknesses, and ideas for future improvement. The student must include academic material from the course as well as external sources with corresponding citations/references. Both strengths and areas of growth must be included to qualify as a critique. (CLO: A-L).

Quizzes (2)

The student will complete 2 quizzes which are cumulative and cover the material presented in the Reading and Study material. Each exam will be open-book/open-notes. Quiz: Crisis Care, Development, Death, Disability, and Danger will cover Module: Week 1-4 and will contain 25 multiple-choice, true/false questions and have a 45-minute time limit. Quiz: Bereavement, Military/Personal Trauma, and Community Disasters will cover Module: Week 1-8, with an emphasis on Module: Week 5-8, and will contain 50 multiple-choice and true/false questions and have a 100-minute time limit. (CLO: A-K)