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Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor and Advocate Certification

Training Syllabus

Course Abstract

This Advocacy Training is a 40-hour certification course conducted by The Rowan Center: A Sexual Assault Resource Agency. The Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor and Advocate Certification consists of a series of training sessions, a training manual (including all required readings and supplemental materials), practice sessions (mock calls and role play exercises), 1-on-1 meetings with the Training Coordinator, and completion of a final self-assessment.

The main goal of this certification is to train and certify counselors/advocates who will provide crisis services to survivors of sexual violence in Lower Fairfield County and/or other parts of Connecticut.

Our work is centered around three (3) main principles:

  • Our philosophy and work are Empowerment-focused
  • Our staff and services are Trauma-informed
  • Our advocacy is always Client-led


This training is structured in accordance with the Connecticut Alliance To End Sexual Violence principles and requirements to certify Sexual Assault Advocates and Crisis Counselors in the State. At the end of the certification, participants will:

  • Have a broader knowledge and deeper understanding of the necessity of Sexual Assault Crisis Services and Prevention Programs in Connecticut and beyond
  • Feel (more) confident in utilizing the basic skills and techniques they have learned to be effective Sexual Assault Advocates and Crisis Counselors
  • Feel empowered to be catalysts for change in their commitment to address and prevent Sexual Violence in our society

Confidentiality and Ethics

As a human services agency dealing with issues of sexual assault, The Rowan Center becomes involved in private and personal areas of people’s lives. Confidentiality is critical to the services and advocacy we provide. It is the fundamental foundation of client safety and the integrity of our services. Confidential communications are accorded to any individual who seeks our assistance.

It is the policy of The Rowan Center to hold our confidentiality to all communications, observations and information made by, between or about our clients. This includes all client services and administrative records including all logs/records resulting from telephone contact or any other work product related to recipients of service. Communications of, about, or between clients are confidential. Confidentiality applies to clients, staff, volunteers, interns, and board members of this agency.

Furthermore, the phone numbers, addresses, and emails of staff, volunteers and Board members are also confidential.

All agency staff and volunteers are expected to follow all mandated reporting laws. Staff and volunteers should contact the Director of Counseling and/or the Director of Advocacy and Training before making oral and written reports to the proper authorities.

Certification Structure and Format

Duration: The duration of this training and certification process is approximately six (6) to seven (7) weeks. One (1) week of orientation and introduction, two (2) weeks of virtual lectures, discussions and practice, and one (1) week for watching recordings and completing the final exam and evaluation.

Participation: Trainees are expected to participate in every contact session and complete their 40-hour requirement. Any trainee who fails to attend four (4) or more hours of contact training time will be dismissed from the ongoing certification process and will be asked to reschedule or postpone their participation in the advocacy training program to a future edition.

Virtual sessions schedule: We will use one Zoom link for all sessions. The Training Coordinator will provide the link. The schedule is the following:

Contact sessionsContent
Introduction to Advocacy Training (1 hour)Introduction, policies and procedures, training guidelines and requirements
Module 1 (1 hour)Intro to Alliance and TRC
Modules 2, 3, and 4 (2 hours)Sexual Violence 101 Understanding Trauma
OVS Compensation Program (OPTIONAL)This session will provide information on the CT adult criminal court, how a case moves through the court process, and the resources available to victims in our court system. Presented by Alexandra Gittines Office of Victim Services Education Unit Court Planner/Trainer
Modules 4 (2 hours)Advocacy and Counseling
Module 5 and Practice session (2 hours)Hotline Advocacy, script, challenging callers, caller info intake
CT Criminal Court System (2 hours)
This session will provide information on the CT adult criminal court, how a case moves through the court process, and the resources available to victims in our court system. Presented by Alexandra Gittines Office of Victim Services Education Unit Court Planner/Trainer
SAFE Kit presentation by Office for Victim Services (facilitated by Heidi Heim, MSN, RN, SANE-A)(1 hour)SAFE KitHospital Advocacy
Modules 6 and 7AccompanimentsLaw enforcement advocacy
Practice session (2 hours)Mock calls Client/advocate role play
Visit to the Courthouse (optional)Stamford Courthouse
Watch Recording 1-on-1 meetings and final assessmentFinal review and evaluation; sign forms (confidentiality, ethics, volunteer guidelines)
Final assessment: At the end of the process, trainees will take a final assessment/exam. This assessment is not a pass-or-fail determination but will inform the level of understanding regarding advocacy and preparedness for potential hotline shifts. The deadline for taking the final assessment for this session will be Friday, November 10 at 11:59 pm ET.

5. Materials and Resources

The Training Coordinator will provide a link to a Google Drive folder with all content related to the training. A hard copy will be available at our office. You will find:

Certification Manual: A total of 8 training modules will be provided to you through access to a Google Drive folder and/or hard-copy binder. The manual contains all required readings and supplemental materials.

Supplemental readings: Each module will have supplemental readings that are part of the module readings. These readings are required, not optional. All reading time counts as part of the minimum requirement of 40 hours.

Recordings: You will be required to watch one recorded training:

DCF Mandated Reporting Training: You will be required to complete the Mandated Reporter Training. You can complete the training on this website:

Additional resources: A list of additional resources will be provided to you so you can choose materials that you’re interested in. From those resources, you will find videos, podcasts, and documentaries. A minimum of 3.5 hours listening/watching these materials is required.

6. Volunteering opportunities and hotline

After completing the training and taking the final exam, you will be evaluated as a candidate for volunteering as a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor and Advocate volunteer for our hotline. That will require a conversation with our Director of Advocacy and Training and our Director of Counseling in order to explore availability. All instructions will be provided at that moment.

List of readings

Readings: All readings for each section will be provided in a Google Drive folder that everyone will have access to. All readings listed in the manual are mandatory and constitute part of the reading time requirements.

  • Certification Manual – Sections 1-4“
  • A Brief History of Rape, Sexual Violence, and the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement”
  • Alliance Member Centers MapSexual Violence in the State of Connecticut (Infographic) (Department of Public Health, 2018)
  • Certification Manuals Sections 1-7
  • Key Facts about Sexual Violence on Campus
  • How to Respond if a Child Discloses
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
  • Crime Victim Compensation Program Brochure
  • Certification Manual Sections 1-3
  • “Toward a Radical Understanding of Trauma and Trauma Work”
  • Worksheet: Coping Skills
  • Certification Manual Sections 1-4
  • “A primer on Privilege and Confidentiality for Victim Service Providers” (NNEDV, 2015)
  • Mandated Reporting Forms
  • “7 Stage Crisis Intervention Model”
  • The SLAP ScaleTraits of an Effective Sexual Assault Counselor/Advocate
  • Certification Manual Sections 1-5“
  • Active Listening Terms” (NSVRC, 2019)
  • Grounding Techniques
  • Certification Manual Sections 1-2
  • Civil Protection Order Information and Form (JD-CV-148)
  • Restraining Orders Information
  • Certification Manual Sections 1-4
  • Why Counselors/Advocates are at the Hospital
    Hospital Accompaniment Sheet
  • SAFE Kit Summary
  • Gail Burns Handout
  • Certification Manual Sections 1-3
  • Code of Professional Ethics for Victim Assistance Providers (NACP, 2021)

Final Self-Assessment

Once you finish all your requirements from the Advocacy Training, you will receive a Google form link for the Final Self-Assessment. There’s no maximum amount of time for taking the exam, but people are expected to finish it in less than two (2) hours. After you finish your exam, you will receive feedback from the Training Coordinator and/or the Director of Client Services. In that conversation, you will be able to talk about opportunities for improvement and potential volunteering.