Counseling Psychology

Master of Arts

The MA degree in Counseling Psychology is designed for learners with aspirations to become licensed as professional counselors. The core objective of the MA in Counseling Psychology is to address the knowledge base and skills necessary to qualify for licensure as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and related clinical practice. The academic focus of this program includes extensive in-depth studies in counseling theory and practice, applied psychology concepts and principles, theories of human development and personality development across the lifespan, family and group therapy principles, applied social and cultural foundations, biological basis of behavior, and professional orientation and ethics. The program also includes formal internship components consistent with most state requirements for clinical mental health counseling licensure. Students are responsible for ensuring that all state licensing requirements are met as promulgated by the Massachusetts State Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health Professionals or by the appropriate board of the state in which they wish to practice. For specific information, the appropriate state or provincial certification/licensing board should be contacted.

This program offers courses online and has a modest residency requirement for interaction with peers and faculty.

Learning Outcomes for Counseling Psychology
  • Expression of Ideas -The candidate will be able to analyze and communicate ideas clearly in correct APA format
  • Knowledge of Appraisal and Diagnostic Techniques for Individuals and Groups—The candidate will be able to analyze the appropriate and ethical use of various appraisal and diagnostic techniques for diverse populations in verbal and written forms
  • Social and Cultural Awareness – The candidate will be able to communicate in written and oral forms an understanding of social and cultural similarities and differences and their impact upon professional practice
  • Professional Identity and Ethics – The candidate will be able to express, verbally and in written form, an understanding of the fundamentals of professional practice as well as ethical considerations that should guide one’s professional and/or scholarly pursuits
  • Knowledge of Counseling Theory and Practice-The candidate will be able to express, verbally and in written form, an understanding of the major theories and methodologies of professional counseling
  • Critical Thinking and Reflection – The candidate will be able to synthesize and evaluate a variety of sources to explore ideas and issues to facilitate continued personal and professional development through self-reflection

In the classroom. In the workforce.

What You'll Learn

In this program you will learn extensive counseling theory, human development theories, and how to apply psychology concepts and principles towards the counseling of individuals, and group therapy.

 

Future Studies

While this program and its internship component is designed for students that want to become licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors, this degree also gives opportunity for continued studies in related education and psychology fields.

Career Opportunities

The Counseling Psychology program is designed for motivated individuals seeking to become state or nationally licensed professional Clinical Mental Health Counselors.

Program Requirements

  • PSY5510  Counseling Theory & Practice
  • PSY5520 Psychology of Human Growth & Development
  • PSY5530 Social & Cultural Bases of Behavior
  • PSY5540 Helping Relationships
  • PSY5550 Group Work and Therapy
  • PSY5560 Career and Lifestyle Development
  • PSY5610 Appraisal and Diagnostic Techniques
  • PSY5620 Abnormal Psychology
  • PSY5630 Human Sexuality for Counselors
  • PSY5640 Research Methods & Program Evaluation
  • PSY5710 Professional Orientation and Ethics
  • PSY5738 Internship in Counseling Psychology I
  • PSY5838 Internship in Counseling Psychology II
  • PSY6899 Professional Portfolio (Capstone)

Electives (18 credits)

  • PSY5720 Practicum in Counseling Psychology I (as needed)(1 credit) *
  • PSY5938 Internship in Counseling Psychology III *
  • PSY6110 Biological Bases of Behavior
  • PSY6210 Personality Theory & Development
  • PSY6220 Family Therapy
  • PSY6310 Psychopharmacology
  • PSY6410 Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders
  • PSY6510 Crisis Intervention

* In some states, including Massachusetts, students need to take a one-credit, 100 hour practicum (PSY5720). Additionally a third internship (PSY5938) may be required.  Students should check with the appropriate state licensure board for guidance on electives and all other requirements.

Course Descriptions

This course provides a culminating experience that allows each student to reflect on his or her scholarly and professional growth over the program of study. In organizing the portfolio according to program competencies and values, the student provides evidence of his/her meeting those outcomes, as well as concentration-specific and individual goals laid out in the Degree Plan.

This course examines a range of research methods, basic descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, needs assessment, ethical and legal considerations in research, steps of research design and implementation and the fundamentals of program evaluation through use of qualitative and quantitative methods. PREREQUISITE: None

Includes studies of current theories of human lifespan development as influenced by genetic, biological and environmental factors, physical, cognitive, intellectual, language, behavioral learning, emotional and personality aspects of development, the nature and needs of individual’s at all developmental levels. PREREQUISITE: None

Includes studies of social psychology, group dynamics and processes, organizational behavior, attribution theory, socially inherited and transmitted patterns of pressure, expectations and limitations learned by individuals, unique characteristics of individuals, couples, families, ethnic groups and communities, issues and trends in a multicultural society (including culture, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental characteristics, physical characteristics, education, family values, religious values, spiritual values and socioeconomic status) and awareness of discriminatory attitudes and beliefs that can have a negative impact on group and individual relationships in various contexts. PREREQUISITE: None

Includes studies of the basic building block and advanced counseling skills, the collaborative nature of the helper-client relationship, consultation skills, nonverbal and reflecting skills and the three stage helping model that drives the client’s problem-managing and opportunity-developing action: helping clients tell their stories, helping clients determine what they need and want and helping clients develop strategies to accomplish their goals. PREREQUISITE: None

This course includes advanced studies of theoretical approaches to and key concepts of group counseling and their practical applications. It focuses on the elements of group dynamics and process, group counseling methods, strategies and skills, historical and cultural contexts in which models were developed, leadership styles and practicalities of creating and leading groups.   Students will research ethical and professional issues in group therapy practice and analyze various uses of group counseling or supervisory techniques. The role of an effective group leader and group leadership styles, group dynamics and social and cultural factors in groups will also be considered. PREREQUISITE: None

Includes studies of career development theory and research, applications in counseling and educational settings, approaches to career decision-making processes, relationships between career development and life factors, career development exploration techniques, skills for helping individuals consider career choice and lifestyle options and sources of occupational and educational information. PREREQUISITE: None

Includes studies of major theories, approaches and procedures in counseling and psychotherapy; historical-cultural developmental contexts; case conceptualization and specific techniques used in contemporary therapeutic systems and their respective limitations; applications with various client populations; ethical and professional issues associated with counseling theories and practices. PREREQUISITE: None

Focuses on psychopathology and includes studies of the etiology and categorization of psychopathology, historical, sociopolitical, cultural, behavioral and epidemiological approaches to the systematic description of psychological disorders, use of the DSM-IV-TR in differential diagnosis, potential alternatives to the existing system and the roles of assessment, treatment planning and intervention for psychological disorders.  Students will identify and articulate the ethical issues related to the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behavior and mental illness and will demonstrate knowledge of the major diagnostic categories including current theories related to the development of the disorders and commonly used treatment strategies.   Students will also explore the various emotional disorders and reactions to stress such as anxiety disorders, somatoform and dissociative disorders, affective disorders and the schizophrenias and related psychotic disorders. Course materials will also facilitate the various disorders related to social mal-development such as personality disorders and sociopathy, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders and sexual and gender identity disorders. 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 examines the process of ethical decision making in the workplace and the role of the ethical leader. Theories of ethical decision making, principles and theoretical concepts will be covered. Students also will be encouraged to reflect upon their own ethical code and decision making. Emphasis in this course is on the real life application of theoretical concepts. PREREQUISITE: None

Optional as determined by state regulations. A pre-internship practice in application of counseling psychology principles and skills. Students must accumulate a minimum of 100 hours of practicum experience at a faculty-approved site. Includes practice of basic and intermediate individual and group counseling skills with clients to integrate theoretical knowledge from coursework with practical applications. A site-based clinical supervisor and a faculty advisor closely monitor activity of the learner throughout the process to ensure that all practicum activities are appropriate to the field of study. The faculty advisor and field (site-based) supervisor formally evaluate the progress of individual students. Students submit a practicum log and reflective essay to chronicle their growth and development and must receive satisfactory field evaluations. PREREQUISITE: None

The first of two semesters of supervised internship in counseling psychology designed to integrate theoretical understanding with direct, hands-on exposure to practice. Fieldwork experience serves to provide practice of counseling psychology skills in an applied setting under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Students must accumulate a minimum of 300 hours of Internship I (to meet the minimum requirement for the Program’s 600 hour total internship hours*) at a site approved by the faculty in order to complete this requirement. All aspects of psychological practice – appraisal, therapeutic intervention and consultation are addressed in the internship experience. Both a site-based supervisor and faculty advisor will monitor the activity of the student throughout the internship process to ensure that all internship activities are appropriate to this field of psychology. The advisor and field (site-based) supervisor formally evaluate the progress of individual students. PREREQUISITE: Approval of advisor

This is the second required semester of internship experience in counseling psychology.  Students are required to accumulate a minimum of 300 supervised internship hours to complete this requirement, bringing the total internship hours to 600 to complete the program. (See additional requirements for individual state regulations). PREREQUISITE: Approval of advisor

This is the third semester of internship experience in counseling psychology which some students may need to complete their state licensure requirements. Students are required to accumulate a minimum of 300 supervised internship hours to complete this requirement, bringing the total internship hours to 900 to complete the program. See additional requirements for individual state regulations (in some states, students may need to take third internship). PREREQUISITE: Approval of advisor

Includes studies of the gross anatomy of the nervous system and the basic relationships between the brain, chemical neurotransmitters and behavior, right and left hemisphere specialization, learning disorders and learning style differences, relationships between neurotransmitters and psychiatric disorders, biological bases of memory systems and retrieval processes including long-term, short-term, episodic and semantic memory.  PREREQUISITE: None

This course focuses on the history, theory and practice of family therapy with analysis and comparison of beliefs, therapeutic strategies and techniques of the most prominent approaches. It includes the study of differences between individual and systems approaches to helping families and the use of the genogram in family therapy, as well as the role and functions of a family therapist. In this course, students will research and explore specific issues in family dysfunction, including cultural and social phenomena, addictions and abuse, alternative family structures. Students will also explore current treatment issues in working with diverse family structures and subsequently better understand the role of marital, couple and family counselors/therapists in various practice settings and in relation to other helping professionals. The course will also cover ethical and legal considerations specifically related to family and systems related work. PREREQUISITE: None

The study of psychopharmacology, including ways in which drugs interact with the brain to affect cognitive processes and behavioral states, the fundamental principles of psychopharmacology including pharmacokinetics and chemical neurotransmission, specific classes of drugs and their applications to the treatment of psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, bipolar mood and psychotic disorders and substance use and abuse through topics including basic neurophysiology, addiction processes and the effects of licit and illicit drugs. 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.

Includes studies of the theories and principles of crisis intervention as applied to therapeutic strategies for treatment, scientific bases of various approaches to crisis intervention including short-term, long-term and telephone 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

In these courses, a student pursues, in-depth, an individualized program of reading and/or research with supervision by first and second core faculty. PREREQUISITE: By permission only

In these courses, a student pursues, in-depth, an individualized program of reading and/or research with supervision by first and second core faculty. PREREQUISITE: By permission only

In these courses, a student pursues, in-depth, an individualized program of reading and/or research with supervision by first and second core faculty. PREREQUISITE: By permission only

This course explores the theory base of complementary health counseling. The seminar begins with a stress and health exploration of the biological bases of health and disease and includes an overview of psycho-neuroimmunology stress and health. The course examines the contributions of learning theory and cognitive behavioral models, learned helplessness and self-efficacy, stress and coping with an emphasis on social bases of health and disease, Engel’s bio-psychosocial hierarchy, family systems, health and disease and concludes with ethno-cultural variables and health and existential and meaning making models. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will examine how the theoretical foundations of complementary health counseling are applied in clinical practice. This seminar will begin with a survey of the assessment strategies of the complementary health counselor including bio-psychosocial approaches, interview, observational and behavioral methods and paper and pencil measures. Students will then proceed to a survey of individual, group, family and large systems interventions, an examination of medical adherence and conclude with a discussion of supervisory and consultation issues in the field. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will focus on the cognition of health, which addresses how thinking and reasoning are related to health behavior and illness. The course reviews how various cognitive processes such as risk perception, cost/benefit analysis, judgmental heuristics, norm perceptions, cognitive dissonance and control perceptions are related to the adoption of healthy and unhealthy behaviors and the processing of health information. The course will also cover the concurrent influence of motivational and affective influences such as defensiveness. Attention will be devoted to how people make health-related decisions (such as whether to screen for cancer), how they respond to health communications and how they mentally represent illness (as well as the extent to which cognitions determine the course and recovery from illness). This course takes a general theoretical approach. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will focus on the study and application of theory and techniques to assist the counselor in the appropriate integration of spirituality into the counseling process. The course will promote the knowledge and skills that counselors should possess to effectively engage clients in the exploration of their spiritual and religious lives as they relate to other psychological concerns. PREREQUISITE: None

This course will focus on the relationship between nutrition, diet and food and their role in emotional health and wellness. This course will provide students with practical information, critical thinking skills and the scientific foundation needed to help clients make better informed choices about their diet and health. PREREQUISITE: None

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