Learning opportunity in moral injury

Our colleagues at the Shay Moral Injury Center of Volunteers of America have launched their new Moral Injury Certificate Program. More information is available below.


Dates: October 2 – December 20, 2023

Registration deadline: September 20, 2023

Enrollment Fee: $600-$800 (sliding scale available; payment plan option available, as well as a special rate for VOA employees)

CE: 30 continuing education credits are available for chaplaincy and social work, upon request

Schedule: Forthcoming; students will have access to content through October 1, 2024


Moral injury is the suffering people experience when in high-stakes situations, things go wrong, and harm results from something a person did, witnessed, failed to prevent, or received. First coined by Dr. Jonathan Shay in 1994 to refer to the “undoing of character” caused by the moral anguish of combat veterans, moral injury is a concept that has been growing in awareness and relevance among healthcare workers, first responders, social workers, journalists, activists, and others.

This course is designed to increase participants’ knowledge of trauma, moral distress, and moral injury, drawing from research and work in various disciplines. These disciplines include the fields of social work, psychology, spiritual care, mental health counseling, religion, and arts and healing. It will also increase competency for developing and implementing peer support strategies for processing distressful experiences as a means of facilitating moral repair and building moral resilience. Learning content will be delivered through lectures, reading, participation in peer learning cohorts and practicums, and development of a capstone project.

The 50-hour course is comprised of synchronous sessions (12 hours group discussions, 9 hours practicums) and asynchronous study time (9 hours lecture videos, 20 hours readings and capstone project preparation). This averages to about 5 hours of engagement per course week.

All course content will be on the Teachable platform, which students will have access to for a year (until October 1, 2024). Access to good internet connection and a Zoom account (for synchronous sessions) is required for successful engagement.

Learning Objectives

Define moral injury

Define moral injury from various disciplines and for populations of interest; describe risk factors using relevant scales and data; relay effective practices for addressing moral injury.

Identify best practices for recovery

Explain evidence-based programs for recovery; demonstrate skills for recovery, tailored for specific populations; identify strategies using arts, rituals, spiritual practices, group processes, creative technologies; peer support models in recovery processes.

Create a capstone project

Final project of choice: a programmatic strategy (to implement in a professional or communal context); an integrative paper (to demonstrate conceptual development); or a portfolio (e.g. popular education materials, toolkits, multimedia works, etc.)

Course content

Each week will comprise of either lecture recordings or synchronous practicum sessions, with accompanying reading assignments. There will be live group discussions during lecture weeks.

Course topics include:

Week 1: What is Moral Injury?

Week 2: Processing Moral Injury (Practicum)

Week 3: Identifying Moral Injury & Risk Factors

Week 4: Religious, Spiritual, Cultural Traditions

Week 5: Dimensions of Recovery

Week 6: Strategies & Processes for Recovery

Week 7: Training in Moral Injury (Practicum)

Week 8: Practicing Moral Injury (Practicum)

Week 9: Capstone Project Preparation

Week 10 +1: Capstone Project Presentations (there is an extra week to offer flexibility in scheduling final project presentations)

A certificate of completion will be offered to students who complete the course, including the capstone project.

For more information, visit the Shay Moral Injury Center.