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Learn about childhood trauma and other types of trauma, its impact on mental health, and the link between trauma and addiction

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CIVIS focus area
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Phd
Field of studies
  • Medicine and Health
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
1 November 2024 to 31 March 2025

Trauma and trauma-related disorders as well as substance abuse and substance use disorders have become problems faced by an increasing number of health workers. The link between trauma and substance abuse has been scientifically studied and is important to highlight to provide appropriate medical, psychological and social services.

While psychological trauma is defined by disruptions in a person's feeling of control, addiction can be considered as a control disorder, or an inability to control. Loss of control is less conscious, often unrecognised by the addict until life becomes unmanageable. The difficulty of maintaining control increases when a person who has experienced trauma develops an addiction or when an addict experiences trauma.

There is now widespread consensus that the most effective approach to treating addiction and co-occurring medical conditions is to do it simultaneously during the early stages of recovery, with a multidisciplinary team that can meet the client's total needs.

This BIP is the result of an effort to advance an integrated approach to the treatment of psychological trauma and addiction by bringing together best practices, supportive resources, and current thinking.

The purpose of this BIP is to give social science and health students current knowledge regarding the link between trauma and addictive behaviours.

This Blended Intensive Program (BIP) will combine lectures (taking place virtual synchronously between 1 November 2024 - 20 December 2024) and in-person (between 3 March – 7 March 2025) by experts in the field. Two interactive workshops on Psychological Interventions for Children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Adults with PTSD, including Extended Exposure Therapy Protocol will be organised in March 2025. Besides the cultural visits to Bran Castle and Peles Castle, participants will have the opportunity to visit the Predeal Sanatorium for Psychiatric Disorders ( to improve their knowledge of good practices in mental health.

The entire programme will take place as follows:

  • 1 November 2024 - 20 December 2024: 30 online synchronous hours with focus on theoretical topics related to trauma and addictions. This 30-hours of teaching will be held by experts from the University of Lausanne, Aix-Marseille University and Sapienza University of Rome.
  • 21 December 2024 - 28 February 2025: Students will be engaged in an intermediate assessment. Students will have to do a theoretical review of the literature on specific topics related to what was taught during online hours. The literature review will be a group work of 50 hours asynchronous, but continuous learning, using innovative pedagogies (watch videos, podcasts, interviews with patients, etc). Additional, participants will be asked to comment on the materials uploaded on the e-learning platform or create a poster/picture representative for a topic – 30 hours asynchronous. 
  • 3 March – 7 March 2025: One week mobility; 5 days of courses held by the teachers from University of Bucharest on psychological interventions in children and adults with PTSD and complex-PTSD/developmental trauma (total of 30 hours of in person courses).
  • Final project preparation and work: 50 hours (asynchronous)
  • Last week of March 2025: Final assessment - group project presentation (10 hours online synchronous).

Main topics addressed

This BIP features seven topics on trauma and addiction-related topics:

1. Addiction: general characteristics

  • General definition, epidemiology, and main characteristics.
  • "The addiction cycle: from impulsivity to compulsivity.
  • Neurobiological aspects of addiction: the main brain systems involved.
  • Substance addictions and behavioural addictions: similarities and differences.
  • The 'new' addictions: gaming, internet use, and new psychoactive substances.

2. Why some individuals develop an addiction?

  • The pathway to addiction: protective and risk factors.
  • Individual vulnerabilities: the role of developmental-relational factors in addiction.
  • From addiction to independence: addictions in adolescence.
  • The centrality of caregiver relationships: attachment, adjustment processes and addiction.

3. How relational trauma influences the development of addiction

  • Addiction as an attempt at self-cure: 'self-medication hypothesis'.
  • Self-conscious emotions and addiction: empirical research.
  • The therapeutic relationship and characteristics of addiction treatment.

4. Understanding Disorders Arising from Addictive Behaviors and Trauma (Social Media)

  • A Comprehensive Exploration of Trauma's Subjective Impact in the Digital Age: In this module, we delve into the subjective experience of trauma influenced by interactions on social media platforms. Gain a deep understanding of how these online interactions can affect individuals psychologically.
  • Navigating Social Media Compulsive Use and Combatting Cyberbullying: Explore the realm of compulsive social media use and its connection to cyberbullying. Learn strategies to identify and combat cyberbullying in the digital world.
  •  Effective Cyberbullying Prevention: This module equips you with practical approaches and tools for preventing cyberbullying incidents, fostering a safer online environment

5. Understanding Disorders Arising from Addictive Behaviors and Trauma (Cyberporn)

  • Exploring Compulsive Cyberporn Use and Its Impact on Trauma-Related Antecedents: This module focuses on understanding compulsive cyberporn use and its implications on trauma-related antecedents. Discover strategies to address these issues effectively.
  • Examining Compulsive Cyberporn Use and Its Connection to Rape Myth Acceptance: Delve into patterns of compulsive cyberporn use and its potential link to the acceptance of rape myths. Learn how to approach and address these sensitive topics.

6. The Developing Brain, the Body, Trauma and Attachment

  • A brief introduction to the brain, its development and environmental shaping. It has become evident that exposure to trauma leaves its mark on the brain’s ability to reach its full potential.
  • Understanding of the importance of the body and how the body is affected by trauma, both in its memory and in its adaption to physical experiences.

7. Examples of interventions and practical applications of work in trauma and addictions

Learning outcomes

At the end of this Blended Intensive Program students will:

  • Know the theories related to trauma and its implications for mental health.
  • Know about different types of addictions and their effects on the body and brain.
  • Understand the link between trauma and addictive behaviours.
  • Identify signs and symptoms associated with trauma.
  • Learn about evidence-based interventions in trauma situations.
  • Learn the protocol of approach and intervention in cases of addiction.
Dates: 1 November 2024 - 31 March 2025 Total workload: 200 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 7*
Location: Sinaia, Romania Language: English (B1)

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

3 March – 7 March 2025

Physical mobility will last 5 days. Lectures will take place every day, 6 hours per day. 

  1. Psychological interventions in children with post-traumatic stress reactions (12 hours).
  2. Cognitive-behavioural psychotherapies for adults with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): prolongedexposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy. (18 hours).

The main assumptions of trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy will be covered, as well as case conceptualisation and general treatment protocol. The course will also present students with the prolonged exposure therapy, the most investigated protocol till date in dealing with traumatic memories.

Trauma-focused acceptance and commitment therapy for adults with a history of complex trauma.

The course will cover the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy, a transdiagnostic method entailing the development of psychological flexibility as a general factor favouring psychopathology. Additionally, case conceptualisation and trauma-focused procedures will be presented and exemplified with the participants.

Virtual part

1 November 2024 - 20 December 2024

By integrating in-person instruction with online, non-synchronous sessions, the virtual mobility program will make the most of innovative pedagogical tools including research-based lessons, and collaborative projects.

  • 1 November to 20 December 2024, the module will cover the program’s first theoretical part. The virtual component will consist of seven meetings, distributed in seven weeks, 2-4 hours per week.  The total amount of teaching the first theoretical part will be 30 hours.
  • 21 December 2024 to 28 February 2025, students will be engaged in a literature review that will last 50 hours asynchronous. During this time, they will deepen the topics taught by teachers and start working as a team on the given project (the literature review). Additional, participants will be asked to comment on the materials uploaded on the e-learning platform or create a poster/picture representative for a topic, that will last 30 hours asynchronous.
  • 3 March to 7 March 2025, it will be an one week mobility, 5 days of courses, 30 hours of in person courses.
  • 9 March to 23 March 2025 students will be involved in finalizing the project and preparing for presentation. This activity will last 50 hours (asynchronous).
  • 24-31 March 2025, the final assessment will take place, group project presentation that will last 10 hours online synchronous.

Students will be able to find all necessary module information such as power point presentations, case studies, bibliography, and video presentations. Direct links to information sources will also be provided. 


No prerequisites are necessary, only interest in the content of the course. The course is open to Bachelor's, Master's students, and Ph.D. students at CIVIS member universities enrolled in the following fields of study or related: Medicine, Psychology, Social sciences, Educational Sciences, Social Work.

Participants should have a B1 level of English.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 28 April 2024 and including a CV.

All applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Relevance of the student's studies to the course topic
  • Previous experiences on the course topic
  • Volunteer activities
  • Previous involvement in other Erasmus activities

Apply now


 For the final assessment students will be asked to do a project in the form of a literature review in which they will incorporate information on topics they have already learned during online synchronous classes, as well as new topics they find in the literature. The final evaluation will take place at the end of the course, more precisely at the end of March 2025. Project presentation will be in the form of a group project presentation during an online synchronous session.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

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  • CARLO LAI is a full professor in clinical psychology at the Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, and Health Studies of Sapienza Università di Roma. He coordinated the Phd course in Dynamic and Clinical Psychology for six year (2018-2023). Currently, He is the chief of the Clinical Psychology Lab in the same Department. His research interests include the quality of life in the medical context about patients undergoing surgical intervention as solid organ transplantation and bariatric surgery and cancer patients. Currently, the neurobiological correlate through hyper-scanning of social and interactive situations as psychotherapy is a prior topic of interest.
  • YASSER KHAZAAL is a full professor of addiction psychiatry at the Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, and an associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Addictology, Montreal University, Canada. He is involved in several studies related to addictive disorders, cognitive and behavioral treatments, and e-mental health, as well as in projects related to the development and assessment of games or computer-based treatments for different mental health disorders. He is also interested in the promotion of new models of patient care aiming to promote empowerment and recovery.
  • FEDERICA GALLI is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Coordinator of the Doctorate in Dynamic and Clinical Psychology at the Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology and Health Studies of the Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza Università di Roma. Federica is also a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. Her main research interests are psychosomatics, clinical psychology in healthcare contexts, chronic pain (chronic headache, fibromyalgia, etc.), and psychocardiology.
  • RICCARDO WILLIAMS is Associate Professor of Dynamic Psychology at the Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology and Health Studies, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza Università di Roma. He is president of the master’s degree program in applied dynamic and clinical psychology and an associate member of the International Psychoanalytic Association. Riccardo has a Ph.D. in dynamic and clinical psychology. Formerly, he was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. His main research and theoretical interests are in the fields of relational trauma and its impact on the development of personality pathology in adolescence and adulthood. His publications mainly concern the relationship between early traumatic experiences, personality pathology, and their relevance for psychopathology and risk behaviors, in particular NSSI and suicidality, perinatal maternal disturbance, and violent behaviors in the life cycle. Specific issues concerning the impact of personality pathology on psychotherapeutic treatment have also been investigated.
  • AURELIE TINLAND is a researcher at Aix-Marseille université. She is a psychiatrist in Marseille in a mobile precarious health team and has worked extensively on public health. She participates in various innovative and alternative programs for people suffering from mental disorders: "Un chez soi d'abord" (access to housing and home support for homeless people) and the IPS program (job coaching for professional integration in an ordinary environment). She also worked on the COFOR project (College of Recovery) and experimentation with advance directives in psychiatry.
  • RUXANDRA FOLOSTINA is a senior lecturer in the Department of Special Education at the University of Bucharest and a researcher at the Laboratory of Health Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology at the same university. Ruxandra is trained in play therapy and drama therapy and, over the years, has worked with children with attachment trauma. Her areas of research interest are children with special needs, drama therapy, and support interventions for children at risk.
  • CLAUDIA IULIANA IACOB is a university lecturer in the Department of Applied Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Bucharest. She is a researcher at the Laboratory of Health Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology. In addition, she is a clinical psychology and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy supervisor accredited by the Romanian College of Psychologists. She has over 14 years of professional experience in the psychological care of children and adults with emotional and neurodevelopmental disorders. Her research interests include disability, mental and behavioural health, evidence-based psychotherapy, and neuropsychology.