Certification through the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists (ATSS) has always aided trauma workers to become valuable service-providers. In this day and age, where there is a fairly constant need for trauma counselors, trauma specialists, and trauma responders, those who are certified to do this work have a leading edge over those who remain uncertified.
Unfortunately, the world-view of ATSS certification is being undermined by ATSS members with invalid certifications. Invalid ATSS certifications are held by those members who have let their membership and/or their certification lapse (usually due to non-payment of fees or lack of continuing education or both). Additionally, many of these members (with invalid ATSS certification) continue to promote themselves as ATSS certified. The truth is, if an ATSS member lets their membership or certification lapse, for whatever reason, their certification becomes invalid. One must be a member―in good standing―of ATSS to have a valid certification and one must keep the certification up to date for it to remain valid.
Those who have invalid certifications and continue to promote themselves as ATSS certified are committing, at least, a breach of ethics and, at most, an act that may be unlawful. The ethical issues associated with promoting an invalid certification should be obvious to most. However, the unlawfulness may not be so obvious. Many ATSS certified members are licensed to practice in their respective states. If their ATSS certification is invalid and they continue to promote themselves as certified, this is usually grounds to file a complaint to a licensing board. Further, if one obtains employment based on promoting an invalid certification, the employer can terminate the employment based on a false claim. Finally, the general public can take legal action against an individual who has an invalid ATSS certification for implying they are certified when they are not.
The impetus of this commentary is to keep ATSS strong by strengthening the world-view of our certification. I invite you to renew your membership; pay your fees; bring your certification(s) up to date; get your continuing education credits. If you choose not to do so, please do not promote yourself as being certified by ATSS.