University of the Southwest. Student Handbook for the Master of Science in Education Program in Mental Health Counseling

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1 University of the Southwest School of Education Student Handbook for the Master of Science in Education Program in Mental Health Counseling School of Education University of the Southwest 6610 N. Lovington Hwy. Ste. T-10 Hobbs, N.M

2 Program Overview This Handbook is designed to provide specific information to USW Graduate students in the Mental Health Counseling program. The graduate program in Mental Health Counseling at USW is part of the School of Education. Information about USW s School of Education can be found at Course descriptions are available in the University of the Southwest s Graduate Catalog which can be found online at Students in the Mental Health Counseling Master s program can find course requirements described later in this Handbook. The University of the Southwest is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Mental Health Counseling program is designed to meet and in some instances, exceed professional licensing requirements in many states. USW s program meets all standards and regulations for professional licensure in the state of New Mexico. This means that upon graduation, an individual meets the requirements for the New Mexico LMHC license that allows the graduate to practice (under professional supervision) for the required 3000 hours of practice required before application for the individual counselor license in New Mexico (LPCC). USW s Mental Health program faculty is passionate about training professional counselors. The program is not intended to train students to be psychologists. While counselors and psychologists share some similarities, there are important differences between these fields of expertise and practice. Counseling is focused upon the wellness of the individual and is therefore not based upon the medical model as is the field of psychology. Professional counselors seek to treat the whole individual working on the assumption that all people have strengths as well as an inherent desire toward wholeness and wellness. The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling at the University of the Southwest offers a 48 hour as well as a 60 hour program. Each fully prepares students to work in human service settings. Required individual field experiences will qualify graduates for a number of positions in a broad range of mental health and counseling agencies. Again, USW s graduate program in Mental Health Counseling prepares students and meets current regulations for professional counseling licensure in the state of New Mexico. Licensing regulations can be found at 11Graduate Faculty 2

3 Graduate Faculty Interests and Expertise Carol Brennan Ph.D., LPCC, RPT/S child counseling, play therapy, bonding Program Coordinator/Associate Professor and attachment, filial therapy, human development Michael Westbrook Ph.D., LPCC Associate Professor Marianne Westbrook Ph.D. Non-resident Full-time faculty Connie Ponce Psy.D. Non-resident Full-time Faculty addictions studies, trauma, EMDR psychopathology Psychopharmacology, psychoeducational assessment PTSD, veteran issues, psychoeducational assessment Handbook and Program Procedures Importance of the Graduate Handbook The University of the Southwest s Graduate Handbook in Mental Health Counseling is a student s best resource for information about the graduate program. It is strongly advised that a student maintain and keep a copy of the Handbook not only for the duration of the graduate program but through the professional licensure process as well. Licensing boards in many states will require information about a student s graduate program and the Handbook that you have been admitted under is the one you will need to refer to in the future. It is your best source of information about your graduate program! Students should be aware that program changes are made occasionally to reflect what is most current in the field of Counseling and students MUST retain accurate information about specific program requirements met and completed. 3

4 Advisement Procedures Following admission to the program students will be assigned to a faculty advisor. A student s degree plan is the primary advisement tool and lists the courses needed for graduation. The student is responsible for keeping the degree plan updated and for having it available for advisement sessions. The student s advisor is available to answer questions if requested by the student. This includes providing suggestions for preparing for the Master s comprehensive exam upon completion of all coursework. Degree Plan As soon as possible after admission to the graduate program of study at USW, but no later than the end of the first term of coursework, the student will be provided a degree plan created by the Student Support Provider. Once the student receives their degree plan they are expected to follow it as the basis for all subsequent course enrollment. The degree plan should also be kept current by the student to use when contacting their assigned faculty advisor. Students must take care to select courses on the degree plan that will also meet the requirements of the state in which they intend to seek professional licensure. Transfer Credit A maximum of 12 approved semester hours of graduate coursework may be transferred from an accredited graduate counseling program. Transfer credits may not be older than 6 years at the time of admission to USW s Mental Health Counseling program. Transfer courses may not include Group (PSY 5403), Techniques (PSY 5313), Psychopathology (PSY 5453), Ethics (PSY 5213), Practicum/Internship Prep (PSY 5800), Practicum (PSY 5813/5823), or Internship (PSY 5803). No course on the degree plan taken at USW may be over six years old at the time the degree is conferred. Applicants with a prior Master s degree The USW Graduate Catalog states that permission to work toward a second degree of the same academic level is granted only upon approval by the Mental Health Counseling program director and the Dean of the School of Education. The applicant is subject to all requirements as a new student including transferring courses from an accredited graduate counseling program. While there is no guarantee that any work from the first Master s degree may apply to the second, at least 24 semester hours on the 48 hour degree plan, and 30 on the 60 hour degree plan must be taken specifically for the new degree program. 4

5 Retention Policy Students who fail to demonstrate basic knowledge, communication, interpersonal skills, ethics, and/or counseling skills may be asked to seek remediation. Students who fail to grasp and demonstrate basic communication, ethics, counseling skills and interpersonal skills will not be accepted for Practicum/Internship placement. As professional counselors, our faculty members are held to the highest standards of the profession. The 2014 ACA Code of Ethics requires that professional counselors be gatekeepers for the profession. Any students who demonstrate personal limitations that might impede future performance, or who violate ethical standards, and/or who are ineffective and/or harmful to clients, will be asked to leave the program. Continuation of Enrollment Students who have been granted admission are expected to register in the term for which admission is granted. Any student failing to register during any one-year period prior to graduation, and who does not have an official leave of absence from study granted by the program, will be required to apply for re-admission to the program according to the procedures and standards in effect at the time of reconsideration. Students originally admitted to the program, electing to pursue another degree program or certificate (ex: teaching certificate) must re-apply for admission to the Mental Health Counseling program. That is, readmission is not automatic. Instead, faculty will seek information regarding how the student performed in the other program. Class Availability Students should recognize that not all classes are offered every term and plan their course of study accordingly. Program of Study in Mental Health Counseling The Mental Health Counseling program in USW s School of Education is designed to prepare students to work in mental health counseling settings as well as to provide academic preparation for becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Mexico. The 48 hour program and the 60 hour program in Mental Health Counseling requires the following courses. 5

6 Required Courses (48 hour program or 60 hour program): (The first four courses are taken in the order listed) PSY 5123 PSY 5523 PSY 5323 PSY 5213 PSY 5203 PSY 5513 PSY 5403 PSY 5413 PSY 5423 PSY 5463 PSY 5453 PSY 5313 Professional Orientation to Counseling (ALL terms) Research in The Behavioral Sciences (Take with PSY 5323 ALL terms) Counseling Theories (Take with PSY 5523 ALL terms) Professional & Ethical Issues- Counseling (ALL terms) Learning & Human Development (FAA/SPA/SUA) Culturally Diverse/Special Needs Pops (FAB/SPB/SUB) Group Counseling (FAA/SPA/SUA) Counseling Families (FAB/SPB/SUB) Child & Adolescent Counseling (FAB/SPB/SUB) Psycho-Educational Assessment (FAA/SPB/SUB) Psychopathology (FAA/SPA/SUA) Counseling Techniques* (FAB/SPB/SUB) 6

7 Students enrolled in the 48 hour degree program should choose (1 course) from the following; students enrolled in the 60 hour degree program should choose 15 credit hours (5 courses) from the following: PSY 5433 Introduction to Play Therapy (FAA/SPA/SUA) PSY 5533 Program Development & Management (FAB/SPB/SUB) PSY 5543 Counseling Traumatized Clients (FAB/SUB) PSY 5553 Introduction to Addictions Counseling (FAB/SPB/SUB) PSY 5563 Clinical Supervision of Counselors (FAA/SPB) PSY 5103 Career Development & Life Planning (FAA/SPA/SUA) PSY 5113 Introduction to Christian Counseling (FAB/SPB/SUB) PSY 5563 Clinical Supervision of Counselors (FAB/SPB) PSY 5233 Human Sexuality (FAB/SUA) PSY 5723 Special Topics (SPA/SUB) PSY 5473A Psychopharmacology I (SUA) PSY 5473B Psychopharmacology II (SUB) Practicum/Internship (9 total hours required for LMHC, LPC, LPCC) PSY 5810 Practicum Preparation* 0 credit hours PSY 5813 Graduate Counseling Practicum I* PSY 5823 Graduate Counseling Practicum II PSY 5800 Internship Preparation PSY 5803 Internship in Mental Health Counseling* PSY 5803C Continuing Internship in Mental 0 credit hours Health Counseling Comprehensive Exam NOTE: Some courses have prerequisites. Please see the USW Graduate Catalog for details. 7

8 *If counseling skills are marginal, students will be required to repeat the course (ie: repeat PSY 5313, PSY 5800, PSY 5813 etc.) Additional Information: 1. Successful completion of the above courses meets the academic requirements for counselor licensure in New Mexico. Other states may have different requirements. It is the individual student s responsibility to determine the licensure requirements for his/her own state. 2. An individual with a Master s degree in School Counseling from USW may wish to pursue the Master s degree in Mental Health Counseling from USW. No course completed in the degree plan that is to be counted toward the additional degree can be more than 10 years old at the time of admission. School Counseling requirements are determined by the faculty/dean of USW s School of Education. Students with the Master s degree in School Counseling from USW must take a minimum of 24 hrs. (8 courses, 4 of which MUST be PSY 5313 Counseling Techniques, PSY 5813 Graduate Counseling Practicums I and II, and PSY 5803 Internship in Mental Health Counseling) if the student is enrolled in the 48 hr. Mental Health Counseling degree program. If the student is enrolled in the 60 hr. degree program, a minimum of 30 hrs. (10 courses, 4 of which MUST be PSY 5313 Counseling Techniques, PSY 5813 Graduate Counseling Practicums I and II, and PSY 5803 Internship in Mental Health Counseling) must be completed. Students will work with their individual faculty advisor to determine the courses (other than the aforementioned required courses) to be taken. Beginning Courses for Master s Program To assist the student in planning a schedule, the information provided below lists courses that are considered to be beginning courses. These courses do not have prerequisites. Please note that students in the Mental Health graduate program at USW should immediately enroll in PSY 5123 Professional Orientation to Counseling, PSY 5523 Research in the Behavioral Sciences, PSY 5213 Professional and Ethical Issues in Counseling and PSY 5323 Counseling Theories and. These courses are prerequisites for all other courses. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Practicum and Internship (Clinical Sequence) Prerequisites: Students must successfully complete ALL the required courses in the degree plan prior to enrolling in PSY 5810 Practicum Preparation course. 8

9 Elective course(s) may be taken concurrently (maximum of one course on the 48 hr. degree plan and maximum of two on the 60 hr. degree plan) with PSY Students must successfully complete Practicum before enrolling in Internship. Practicum (6 hrs.). Students complete supervised practicum experiences at approved sites that total a minimum of 300 clock hrs. The practicum provides for the development of individual counseling and group counseling work skills under supervision. Internship (3 hrs.). Students complete 300 hrs. of supervised internship at an approved internship site that offers opportunities for students to engage in both individual and group counseling. NOTE: Students needing additional supervised hours for their individual state s licensing requirements will have to enroll for an additional Practicum or Internship course. Additional information about the clinical sequence is available in the Practicum Handbook and also in the Internship Handbook. All students are required to provide proof of professional liability insurance for the duration of Practicum and Internship. Professional liability insurance may be obtained from professional counseling associations (e.g., the American Counseling Association, ). This insurance MUST be obtained prior to registration for Practicum or Internship (purchase insurance the semester before you plan to enroll in practicum or internship). Comprehensive Examination All students in the Mental Health Counseling program must pass a Masters Comprehensive Examination prior to receiving their degree. Students are required to take the examination during their last semester of coursework. The examination is offered once each 16 week semester (Fall, Spring, Summer). Students must apply to take the examination with their advisor, before the start of the final 16 week semester. All exams must be completed by October 30 th in the Fall semester, by March 30 th in the Spring semester and by June 15 th in the Summer semester. Students may take the examination a maximum of three times. If a student fails the Comprehensive Examination, he or she will be required to resubmit an application to take the exam in the FOLLOWING 16 week semester. Students will be required to complete remedial coursework as well, prior to the approval of any subsequent application for the comprehensive examination. 9

10 BEFORE SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION Talk to professionals in the counseling community to clarify your understanding of the rewards and the demands of counseling careers. Assess how your personal strengths and challenges may impact your ability to be a competent counselor. Join professional associations such as ACA, ACES, IAMFC, NMCA, and AACC. Students can greatly enhance their development by student membership in these groups. Students may access information about these groups at Volunteer for community organizations that provide support for at-risk populations to gain valuable human service experience with diverse populations. Check your interests, abilities, volunteer and paid work experiences for congruence with the requirements and expectations of the Mental Health Counseling program. After you conclude that congruence exists, submit your application materials. APPLICATION MATERIALS Steps in Application Process Read this handbook completely. If you have questions about the application process or difficulty in applying online please contact the Student Support Provider by at or phone Submit the Application for Admission to the Graduate Program of USW online at: o Select apply now o Complete all required fields submit o After the application is submitted you will be contacted by an Enrollment Counselor Submit required documents. For the MHC Master s program this includes: 1. Official transcripts of all college work (bachelors and graduate work) 2. International students must submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. 3. Professional statement of 750 words describing the reasons why the applicant wants to be a counseling professional. 4. Three professional letters of recommendation from employers, supervisors, and/or academic instructors. 5. The USW MHC program s Policy Statement on Retention, Remediation and Dismissal with applicant s original signature. 10

11 Once all the above documents are received the application packet will be considered complete and sent to the faculty committee for review. Approval/Denial recommendation by the faculty committee is then sent to the Student Support Provider. If you receive a letter of rejection from USW s MHC program and wish to appeal the decision, the Dean of the School of Education at APPLICATION DEADLINES: To be considered for admission to USW s Graduate Degree Program in Mental Health Counseling, ALL required application materials must be submitted for consideration at least two weeks (14 days) prior to the start of the term applied for. USW s Academic Calendar can be found on the website at https://www.usw.edu/academics/academic-calendar. Graduate Online students follow the 8 week program. NOTE: All prospective students must submit all application materials before their application for admission to the Mental Health Counseling program will be considered. As part of its commitment to the University of the Southwest s policy of affirmative action, and to the professional ethics and values of the field of counseling, the Mental Health Counseling graduate program strives to seek a diverse student population. Updated 9/14/15 RM 11

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