Institute on Violence, Abuse & Trauma



Purpose of Earning an IVAT Specialty Certification

The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) serves a public need by providing oversight certifying mental health and other treatment providers competent to deliver high quality services to a range of challenging populations.  Specialty certification assures the consumer that specialists designated and monitored by IVAT have successfully completed the educational, training, and experience requirements of the specialty area, and that their expertise has been objectively reviewed and documented.  Each Specialty Certification Program consists of three levels of expertise: Level 1 = Certified Specialist, Level 2 = Certified Supervisor, and Level 3 = Diplomate-Trainer.  The criteria and levels of each specialty area were generated by a group of national and international experts with extensive training and experience in working within the designated specialty area.  Through a series of meetings and discussions, focus groups, and think tanks, they agreed upon the required training, experience and verification of experience that is required in order to work effectively at various levels within a specialty area. 


Types of Specialty Certification Programs

Currently there are four Specialty Certification Programs.  Each specialty area is listed below along with a brief description of the area:

  • Specialty Certification in Domestic Violence Offender Treatment

Includes training and experience in working with both male and female offenders of intimate partner violence, understanding of the dynamics and safety issues involved in intimate partner violence, and typologies of domestic violence offenders. 

  • Specialty Certification in Child Custody Evaluations

Includes an understanding of child development, parenting abilities and issues, dynamics and concerns related to the best interests of children, and assessment techniques in general and specifically regarding child custody cases.  The dynamics of legal, forensic, and mental health issues are included. 

  • Specialty Certification in Trauma Care

Includes an understanding of the various forms of trauma, short and long-term effects of trauma, and assessing and treating adults or children who have experienced trauma and complex trauma.  The dynamics of posttraumatic stress disorder and the neurobiology of trauma are included. 

  • Child and Adult Maltreatment Specialty Certification [Formerly known as Child & Adult Advocacy Studies Training (CAAST)]

Focuses on experiential, interdisciplinary, ethical, and culturally sensitive content that provides professionals a common knowledge base for responding to child and adult maltreatment.  This certification focuses on development of understanding of the numerous factors that lead to child and adult maltreatment and existing responses to child and adult maltreatment.



Anyone who meets the criteria set forth by IVAT can obtain certification in one or more of the specialty areas.  There are three levels of certification, each with different requirements regarding education, training and experience. Credits can be obtained at IVAT's San Diego Summit each year.


Application Process

The process for applying to each program varies by program, so it is important to look at the specific requirements and application for that particular Specialty Certification Program.


In general, the following process applies to all new applicants for the certification programs:

  1. Decide which Specialty Certification Program you are interested in applying for and the appropriate level commensurate with your education, training, and experience.

  2. Carefully complete the application for the Level in which you are requesting certification.

  3. Complete all Supplementary Information required for the Level and Specialty Certification you are applying for (including education, experience, references, and sample work product, as necessary).

  4. If you are applying to be a Diplomate, it is suggested that you become familiar with the suggested readings on the Suggested Reading List for your particular Specialty Certification area.

  5. Enclose a current vita/resume detailing all work you have done related to that particular Specialty Certification Program.

  6. Provide proof of state or county certification or licensure, if applicable.

  7. Agree to receive a background check and pay the appropriate fee.

  8. Enclose three letters of reference (use the references sheet enclosed with Application form), one from a supervisor and two from others relevant to the field who have knowledge of your expertise.

  9. Enclose all certificates/brochures related to the trainings that you have attended and that you have listed as part of your Continuing Education AND/OR are part of your basic training requirements.

  10. A check made payable to IVAT for $250 for your first application or $150 for a secondary application (i.e., if you already have one level of certification and are seeking a higher level).

The Specialty Certification is renewed annually.  In order to renew a Specialty Certification, the applicant submits the Renewal Application, verification of the required continuing education and a $150.00 processing fee.

Review Training Hours Approved for IVAT Specialty Certifications at our 23rd International San Diego Summit.


Upcoming 2018 MEGA♪ Trainings

January 28th, 2019. Holiday Inn Bayside, San Diego, CA

MEGA♪ is a tool for assessing risk for coarse sexual improprieties, and/or sexually abusive behaviors in youth ages 4-19 years.