Description of MajorsThe Counselor Education Department offers a Master of Science in Counselor Education degree with three program areas within the field of counseling: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, and School Counseling. These programs prepare students with the professional competencies necessary for entry level direct services work in the field of counseling and provide a base for doctoral level study. Students may also earn an emphasis area. Post graduate students may enroll in the Play Therapy Certificate Program.
The distinctions between the three program areas in counseling are generally related to the work setting, the theory used in the setting and the population served by the setting. Marriage, Couple, and Family and Clinical Mental Health majors counsel individuals, couples, and families in a wide variety of settings, including government agencies, non-profits, and private practice. The specific distinctions between majors are described below:
1. Marriage, Couple, and Family students, by definition, have agreed to work primarily from a systems theory perspective. This perspective is taught in the specialty courses for Marriage, Couple, and Family, and encompasses understanding individual issues within a family context. Most Marriage, Couple, and Family majors elect to work in private practice settings upon graduation.
2. Clinical Mental Health Counseling majors have elected a generalist counseling background. Clinical Mental Health majors usually specialize during internship and are encouraged to complete an emphasis area applicable to diverse settings, such as Trauma, Grief, and Crisis. Clinical Mental Health counseling majors subscribe to a wide variety of theoretical orientations, including Adlerian, Logotherapy, Cognitive, Behavioral, Existential, Integrative, etc. Clinical Mental Health counseling majors are prepared to work with non-profit, state, higher education, faith-based, and federal agencies, as well as in private practices.
3. School Counseling majors are prepared to work in K-12 public and private educational settings. (Higher education counseling is subsumed under the Clinical Mental Health Counseling major.) Students may elect to focus on one area, such as high school counseling. School Counseling majors are encouraged to take electives such as Play Therapy to further their skills in counseling children and adolescents. While school counselors typically work in schools, they may also work in agencies or in private practice.
The graduate program in counseling is designed upon the foundation of the Critical Social Conceptual Framework. This framework recognizes that counselors must exert their influence beyond the narrow confines of their settings in order to meet the broader needs of clients in a diverse society. Counselors must work with many distinct constituencies, such as mental health agencies, school personnel, parents, social workers, police officers, and community leaders to provide the best possible delivery of services.