Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Master of Arts

This program is based on an integrated curriculum intended to produce clinicians trained in theory, research, and clinical skills. Students accepted into the Master of Arts program can elect to specialize in mental health counseling or mental health counseling with a forensic psychology concentration.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed to meet the educational requirements for a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and similar professional designations in other states. The 60 semester hour mental health counseling concentration includes coursework in research, assessment, counseling, psychopathology, human development, and ethics. A pre-internship clinical practicum of 100 hours is required, and is followed by a 600-hour clinical internship.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program with a Forensic Psychology Concentration is also designed to meet the educational requirements for an LMHC. This concentration is a 66 semester hour program that incorporates courses from the mental health counseling concentration. The forensic psychology concentration also includes six semester hours of forensic psychology coursework. A pre-internship clinical practicum of 100 hours is required, and is followed by a 600-hour clinical internship.

Due to state licensing requirements, transfer credits may not be permitted. Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet all state licensing requirements as promulgated by the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health Professionals or by the appropriate board in the state in which they wish to practice. For specific information, your state or provincial certification/licensing board should be contacted.

Learning Outcomes for Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Students will develop competencies in their knowledge of human development and psychological and psychopathological assessment, diagnosis, case conceptualization and treatment planning in relation to mental health counseling.
  • Students will develop knowledge of individual/cultural differences as well as ethical and legal standards so they gain the skills and develop the ethical commitment to provide quality services to culturally diverse clients and organizations in relation to mental health counseling.
  • Students will develop competencies in their knowledge of psychotherapeutic intervention, treatment modalities and effective clinical and counseling skills in relation to mental health counseling.
  • Students will develop competencies in their knowledge of scientific methodology and its application to relevant practice as well as the skills necessary for effective application of that knowledge to mental health counseling.
  • Students will develop personal and interpersonal competency and clinical skills which are essential for mental health counselors to conduct themselves in a professional manner.

In the classroom. In the workforce.

What You'll Learn

This program will provide theory, research, and clinical training for the student who is truly concerned with the well-being of people and their quality of life, and the two concentrations ensure you’ll gain valuable, specialized skills.

Future Studies

Often, our graduates elect to continue their education by pursuing a doctorate (PhD, EdD, or PsyD). Our students have been very successful in pursuing doctoral education and we are proud of our exceptionally high acceptance rate.

 

Career Opportunities

Many of our graduates obtain licensure and go on to become successful clinicians in mental health and social service agencies, hospitals, clinics, and schools. They are engaged in counseling, testing, research, administration, and other healthcare careers.

  • PSY5207 Applied Research Methodology and Evaluation
  • PSY5217 Counseling Theories, Techniques, Practice and Consultation
  • PSY5225 Family, Marriage and Couples Counseling and Consultation
  • PSY5229 Crisis Intervention and Trauma Informed Care
  • PSY5307 Career Development and Lifestyle Appraisal
  • PSY5317 Group Counseling Theories and Practice
  • PSY5325 Learning Theories and Behavioral Interventions
  • PSY5347 Psychopathology: Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment
  • PSY5355 Systems and Theories in Counseling and Psychology
  • PSY5407 Pre-Internship Clinical Practicum
  • PSY5417 Human Growth and Development
  • PSY5418 Psychometric Tests and Measurement for Individuals and Groups
  • PSY5630 Human Sexuality for Counselors
  • PSY6410 Substance Use Disorders and Addiction Counseling
  • PSY6507 Issues and Ethics in Professional Orientation
  • PSY6517 Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse
  • PSY6607 Clinical Skills in Treatment Modalities and Consultation
  • PSY6615 Multicultural Studies and Social Bases of Behavior
  • PSY6807 Mental Health Counseling Internship I
  • PSY6809 Mental Health Counseling Internship II*
  • PSY5316 Principles in Forensic Psychology #
  • PSY5430 Assessment Techniques in Forensic Psychology #

*Some states may require more internship hours than others. Each student must check the requirements as stated by their state’s licensure board.
Total Required Credits (without forensic concentration): 60
Total Required Credits (with forensic concentration): 66
#Forensic Concentration only

Additional Program Notes
Transfer credits may not be considered for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program based on licensure requirements. Graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program may be able to transfer equivalent coursework to the Educational Psychology doctoral program or the Mental Health and Human Development doctoral program at American International College.

All Courses

This course addresses the physical, cognitive and social-emotional development across the lifespan for children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, including a description of behaviors that are present at the various stages and explanations for those behaviors regarding relative contributions of heredity and environment. The major theories of physical, cognitive, affective and social development across the life span for individuals and families are applied to the understanding of learning, personality development, and mental health counseling practice. The sociocultural and social economic factors that may contribute to a developmental outcome are also considered. PREREQUISITE: None

This course traces the history of the major theoretical positions in psychology (structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism, gestalt and psychoanalysis) from their epistemological, both rationalistic and empirical and philosophical roots, dating from ancient Greece to the present time. Coverage will include discussions of the scientific method and the philosophy of science. Finally, contemporary positions, especially those involved in the cognitive revolution, will be covered from both the psychological and physiological points of view. Throughout these latter discussions, emphasis will be placed on the developmental aspects of human growth. PREREQUISITE: None

The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with the major ethical issues in the practice of mental health counseling and psychology. This course includes the understanding of professional roles and functions of counselors or psychologists, with particular emphasis on legal and ethical standard through ethical case conceptualization, analysis and decision making as it relates to clinical practice. The course involves an intense analysis of the philosophical, technical and consultative issues contributing to the professional identity and function of the counselor or psychologist in a variety of clinical settings. Emphasis will be placed on the practical application of theory and the demands of particular setting. This course stresses professional ethics and general standards of conduct by examining the standards set by the code of ethics of the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association for the understanding of licensure and regulatory practices. In addition, a guide for this section of the course is also the American Psychological Associations Code of Ethics. PREREQUISITE: None

This course includes the identification and diagnosis and mental health treatment planning for abnormal, deviant, or psychopathological behavior and includes assessments and treatment procedures. This course examines disorders in adulthood, adolescence, and childhood with consideration of the relationship between biological, social, psychological and environmental factors, as well as problems in classification and potential behavior systems. The concepts of normal and abnormal will be explored especially when attempting to understand the behaviors of culturally diverse groups. The symptomatological disorders, including borderline personalities and various phobic and obsessive-compulsive syndromes will be studied. The standards for differential diagnosis will be clarified. Conditions relating to dis-compensation, stress, anxiety, and defense mechanisms will be covered. PREREQUISITE: PSY 5417

Intensive coverage of the major learning theories in psychology and their epistemological roots in philosophy, both from the point of view of rationalism and empiricism. Students will incorporate the theories in applied behavioral interventions useful to counselor and psychologists when working with clients in need of behavioral changes. The emphasis will be on the twentieth century theorists and will include Pavlov, Thorndike, Watson, Guthrie, Hull and Skinner as behaviorist-associationists and Wertheimer, Kohler, Lewin and Bruner on the cognitive gestalt side. Bandura’s social modeling theory will be stressed, including discussions of racial prejudice and attitude change. Piaget’s cognitive model will also be stressed, including discussion of qualitative differences in learning according to developmental stage. Coverage will also include processing models, cognitive acquisition theories and the basic models concerning the physiology of learning and memory. PREREQUISITE: None

This course examines the major theories, principles and techniques of mental health counseling and the application of such theories to counseling settings. This includes the examination of the influence of psychoanalytic, interpersonal/social, cognitive and behavioristic theories on present therapeutic techniques. A number of treatment modalities and styles of counseling are evaluated and the relationship between the nature of the current DSM diagnoses and the effectiveness of each approach is discussed. Coursework, classroom discussion and role play are used to translate theoretical understanding into effective counseling behavior for a clear understanding of applying theoretical perspectives to work with clients and for consultation with individuals and families. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will provide students with a solid basis in General Systems Theory in relation to mental health counseling for family, marriage and couples counseling and consultation. Coverage will include theories and techniques that could be used by the counselor or psychologist in dealing with family, marriage, and couples’ issues. Topics will include initial interview skills, therapeutic intervention modalities and the application of systems theory to the family setting. Included will be usefulness and application of theory to culturally diverse groups and diverse family dynamics in relation to counseling and consultation. PREREQUISITE: None

Includes studies of the theories and principles of crisis intervention as applied to therapeutic strategies for treatment. Students will also examine and discuss trauma-informed care practices for an understanding of the pervasive nature of trauma and to promote healing and to avoid re-traumatization in the counseling relationship. Provides a scientific bases of various approaches to trauma informed care and crisis intervention including short-term, long-term counseling methods, community and societal crisis, interventions with diverse clinical populations, professional skills for intervening, prevention techniques, evaluation of services and the roles and responsibilities of others participating in crisis intervention. PREREQUISITE: None

This course includes studies of the diverse nature and constructs of human sexuality, sexual identity, and sexual dysfunction. Perspectives of human sexuality including biological, behavioral, cultural, social, psychological, as well as clinical factors will be studied. The role of the professional counselor and counseling strategies are considered. PREREQUISITE: None

This course provides students with an opportunity to put their acquired academic knowledge into clinical practice prior to their final year’s internship. The practicum is defined as a distinctly defined, pre-internship, supervised curricular experience that totals a minimum of 100 hours. The practicum provides for the development of clinical mental health counseling and group work skills under supervision and may take place on the academic campus or in a clinical field experience site. Case studies will be used to build in-depth knowledge of the diagnostic criteria of disorders in the current DSM and to practice assessment, treatment and appropriate termination of the counseling relationship. In addition to developing counseling skills through the readings and exercises in the textbook, students also role-play counseling in the classroom and on recordings. Students explore their specific career interests and search for sites for the following year’s internship experiences while preparing a portfolio of documentation to be kept by the student for future licensing. The practicum is utilized to meet the practicum requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor. Additional requirements may apply. Student is responsible for meeting any regulatory requirements for licensure. PREREQUISITE: PSY5215, PSY5415, PSY5345 Second year status

This course is designed to acquaint the student with vocational counseling practices in relation to career development and lifestyle appraisal. An understanding of and practice in career development assessment and career counseling techniques will be explored. Students will also explore professional orientation for a career in counseling. Sources of career assessment and appraisal, career information, lifestyle development, advantages and disadvantages of each source and methods of storing and disseminating information will be explored. Current issues in college planning and school-to-work transition programming will also be addressed. PREREQUISITE: None

This course examines the theoretical bases of the counseling processes, mental health counseling techniques, and their therapeutic applications in relation to the understanding and practice of counseling skills necessary for the mental health counselor and psychologists. This course will provide students with a number of treatment modalities and techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoanalysis to integrate the theories of treatment into specific situations that the counselor or psychologist will confront in actual practice. Case studies and simulations of therapeutic interventions will support the application of theories to practice. Topics will range from working with clients individually and multiple system membership to consultation around behavioral/emotional issues in a variety of clinical settings. The consultation model will be considered as it relates to counselors and psychologists within a multicultural model. PREREQUISITE: PSY5347

This course will examine the theoretical and experiential understandings of group development, purpose, dynamics, group counseling methods and skills, as well as leadership styles for group facilitation. Coursework covers the dynamics and processes of mental health groups (therapeutic, psychosocial, psycho‑educational). An emphasis of this course is on personal growth and the counseling process within the group setting. Among the concepts included are curative factors, interpersonal learning, group composition, and tasks and techniques for change. Topics such as addiction, poverty, diversity, and education will be explored in understanding the individual response to group counseling. PREREQUISITE: None

This is the first semester of internship consisting of 300 hours of the 600 required minimum hours which in total includes a minimum of 240 clinical hours, and 45 hours of supervision (at least 15 of which were individual in nature and 15 of which were group in nature) provided by a supervisor who meets the definition of an approved supervisor by state regulations. This course is primarily an off-campus, supervised work experience, extending over two semesters and involving 16-20 hours per week. Internship is undertaken in the final year of the program. On-campus weekly meetings are required and are an integral part of the necessary supervision. All aspects of clinical experience from intake to discharge are covered with primary emphasis on face-to-face counseling interaction in relation to current DSM diagnoses. The internship is utilized to meet the internship requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor. Additional requirements may apply. May be repeated for further hours beyond the minimum. Student is responsible for meeting any regulatory requirements for licensure. PREREQUISITE: Majority of Coursework. Final year status. Practicum I and II.

This course covers the fundamental principles of pharmacology, drug actions, tolerance, clinical use of psychotic medications, substance abuse and addiction treatment. A component of this course includes a focus on addiction and the treatment of individuals within this special population relevant to mental health counseling. Research that explores the efficacy of medications taken during treatment, specific treatment programs and the degree of recidivism is presented. PREREQUISITE: None

This course encompasses the understanding of substance use disorder within the criteria of the current DSM and addiction as a disease within the medical model.  Students will be introduced to contemporary theories on the social, physiological, psychological and emotional components of addiction. The appropriate mental health counseling treatment modalities for addiction and co-occurring disorders will be reviewed and practiced through an understanding of the stages, effects and processes of addiction. This course will cover preventions, interventions and outreach strategies related to addiction and recovery counseling. Medically assisted treatment will also be discussed.

This is the second semester of internship consisting of 300 hours of the 600 required minimum hours which in total includes a minimum of 240 clinical hours, and 45 hours of supervision (at least 15 of which were individual in nature and 15 of which were group in nature) provided by a supervisor who meets the definition of an approved supervisor by state regulations. This course is primarily an off-campus, supervised work experience, extending over two semesters and involving 16-20 hours per week. Internship is undertaken in the final year of the program. On-campus weekly meetings are required and are an integral part of the necessary supervision. All aspects of clinical experience from intake to discharge are covered with primary emphasis on face-to-face counseling interaction in relation to current DSM diagnoses. The internship is utilized to meet the internship requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor. Additional requirements may apply. May be repeated for further hours beyond the minimum. Student is responsible for meeting any regulatory requirements for licensure. PREREQUISITE: Majority of Coursework. Final year status. Practicum I and II. Internship I.

This course examines the theories of multicultural counseling, issues and trends of a multicultural and diverse society and includes the foundational knowledge and skills needed to provide mental health counseling services to diverse populations in a culturally competent manner. This course covers a number of advanced topics in the general area of social and interpersonal psychology, including cultural, ethnic and group processes, familial patterns, sexual orientation, gender roles, disability status, religious beliefs, age, organizational behavior, group dynamics, status and role, attribution theory and leadership. Special emphasis will also be placed on cultural diversity, including those issues related to cultural, racial and ethnic bases of behavior. PREREQUISITE: None

In this course, the student will be encouraged to develop a personal frame of reference around understanding of psychometric theories including validity, reliability and other facets of measurement used to understand group and individual assessment. Students will practice assessment procedures, data collection, scoring and reporting. Specifics include an examination of several diagnostic instruments such as personality and cognitive assessments including the WISC/WAIS, Mini Mental Status Exam, MMPI, TAT and Rorschach, etc. Problems involved in assessing dysfunction will be included, as well as the application of assessment and diagnoses to the selection of treatment modalities used by mental health counselors or psychologists. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will provide students with information about the various forensic activities in which psychologists and other related professionals currently participate. Activities may include competency evaluations, assessment of violent behavior and dangerousness, child abuse/neglect, treatment issues, court testimony, police psychology and consultation to judges, attorneys and other law enforcement personnel. Students will obtain information about the numerous roles of professionals in the field of forensic psychology and will develop the skills and knowledge base that will prepare them to continue with specialized training in this area. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will familiarize students with the particulars of forensic assessment and test administration and will deal with techniques of synthesizing and integrating psychological and practical information into an effective forensic report. Emphasis will be placed on formal and informal assessment techniques, presenting problems, presentation of reports and collaboration with other professionals. Students will develop skills in the assessment and diagnosis of disorders commonly found in forensic settings. PREREQUISITE: PSY5316

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