Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling
Mental Health Counseling is a professional counseling specialty which involves the application of principles of counseling, human development, learning, theory, group dynamics, and the assessment of mental illness and dysfunctional behavior. Mental Health Counseling include the practice of prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders for individuals, families, and/or groups and consultation and education for community groups interested in promoting healthy lifestyles in the community.
The School of Psychology and Counseling offers a three-year, 60-semester-hour graduate program culminating in a Master of Arts degree (M.A.). This degree program is offered at both the Boiling Springs and Charlotte campuses.
Students in the mental health counseling program take two courses each spring, summer, and fall semester. Courses are offered in the evenings, which is appealing to many working adults. Upon graduation, students will have satisfied the educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Please check your state licensing board’s website for more information about licensure as a LPCA and LPC.
The M.A. program in Mental Health Counseling is designed to develop skilled clinicians and well-educated leaders in the field of mental health. Within a caring and challenging environment, the Mental Health Counseling program strives to facilitate the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills which will help prepare graduate students to make appropriate contributions to diverse clients, institutions, and society.
To do this, using a scientist practitioner model, the program emphasizes integration of theory and practice, critical thinking and decision making, as well as the examination of personal values and experiences as they influence clinical practice. Students have strong theoretical and technical training which is applied in field-based counseling practica and internships.
Gardner-Webb University’s School of Psychology and Counseling offers a supportive community for learning. We’re dedicated to promoting Christian values in an environment of intellectual curiosity. We care about nurturing the whole person and encouraging lifelong learning.
Criteria for Admission
The requirements for the role of a Mental Health Counselor are both personal and intellectual. Thus, program faculty review completed application materials and consider applicants’ personal and academic readiness for counseling training. Qualified applicants are invited for an interview with the faculty, during which the faculty further assess the academic background and personal qualities and goals of applicants. Applicants will be admitted who meet the personal and academic requirements of the program. Recognizing the need to accept students who have the greatest likelihood of success in this role, the following standards will be used for admission to the mental health counseling program:
- A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education with a minimum 3.00 grade point average.
- A minimum of 12 hours of psychology or related areas to include general, abnormal/psychopathology, personality theory, and development.
- Satisfactory test scores on either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) within the past five years.
- Three positive letters of reference from professors, faculty advisors, employers, and supervisors who have knowledge of an applicant’s personal characteristics and/or academic abilities.
- A successful interview by faculty within the program.
- A questionnaire requiring applicants to respond to questions relative to pursuit of a counseling graduate degree.
- Statewide criminal background check is required Prior to admission, a satisfactory “Criminal Record Check” for all states of residence for the past five years must be submitted to the Graduate School. The purpose of the criminal background check is to meet requirements of some clinical agencies in which students learn and practice counseling methods. Criminal background histories obtained for employment purposes are not acceptable for admission to the Counseling programs. Information received pertaining to criminal background histories will become a part of the student’s confidential permanent academic file. Any conviction or pending criminal charges cited in the criminal history will be reviewed by the Graduate School and Counseling graduate faculty. Any allegations or charges of misdemeanor(s) or felony(s) that occur after the Criminal Record Check has been submitted must be reported immediately to the Graduate School and to the Dean of the School of Psychology and Counseling. Failure to report allegations of such charges may result in immediate dismissal from the program.
Goals of the Mental Health Counseling Program
The goal of the Mental Health Counseling program is to prepare students for professional careers in counseling through courses in the eight core areas as required by CACREP: Professional Identity, Social and Cultural Diversity, Human Growth and Development, Career Development, Helping Relationships, Group Work, Assessment, and Research and Program Evaluation. Within that framework, the objectives are to:
- Provide an environment that promotes the core values of relational work with others;
- Provide coursework that develops the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become effective professional counselors;
- Promote and ethical sense in counseling students that demonstrates respect for diversity and honors our common humanity;
- Promote an understanding of the changing profession of counseling and the need for continuing education and lifelong learning.
Chi Sigma Iota
Membership in this International Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society is one of the highest honors a Gardner-Webb graduate counseling student can attain for academic excellence. To be eligible for membership, students must have completed six semester hours, have a 3.5 GPA or higher, and be a student in good standing.
After successful completion of core coursework, students have the opportunity to intern in mental health settings such as, but not limited to, psychiatric facilities, substance abuse centers, behavioral health departments in area hospitals, agencies providing hospice services, private practices, day treatment programs, intensive in-home mental health agencies, shelters for battered women, and more.
By obtaining an M.A. in Mental Health Counseling students will be prepared to gain licensure as a professional counselor. Licensure is required to be able to practice professional counseling in a variety of settings, including private practice.
- In accordance with CACREP standards, curricular experiences, and demonstrated knowledge in each of the following areas of mental health counseling will be required: mental health foundations, contextual dimensions, clinical principles, general practice, and specific strategies of mental health counseling.
- Graduate students will develop skills appropriate to beginning counselors in each of the areas specified above as required by state and national professional associations and by credentialing bodies.
- Graduate students will demonstrate their understanding of the importance of continuing professional development, an underlying code of ethics, legal considerations, and standards of professional conduct in classes in appropriate agency-based practicum and internship experiences.
- Mental Health Counseling students will be prepared to take the National Counselor Examination and complete all educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor.
- Students will understand theory and appropriate standards of practice with identified special populations in mental health facilities.
- Character and maturity will be nurtured throughout the program as moral, ethical, spiritual, and psychological dimensions of all areas of work are addressed.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Students will learn the core value of relational work with others through faculty/student interactions, class-related activities, practicum, and internship.
- Students will develop professional counseling skills.
- Students will appreciate professional ethics in counseling.
- Students will develop proficiencies in research, writing, and presentation skills.
- Students will develop an appreciation for lifelong learning through professional development opportunities.
- Students will be prepared to obtain licensure as a LPC or School Counselor.
The mission of the graduate programs of the School of Psychology and Counseling is to create a context in which counseling students participate in an academically rigorous process that values the power of interpersonal relationships in creating beneficial change. For faculty, counseling students, and the community we serve, we believe this process is essential. Our school has an ongoing commitment to providing a caring and challenging environment which facilitates the acquisition of the knowledge and the development of the skills necessary for our counseling students to become effective counselors in an increasingly diverse society. We seek to empower students within a framework of mentoring relationships to promote their own development in several areas of personal growth. These areas include spiritual, ethical, mental, physical, social, and vocational development. In addition, we seek to foster a commitment to continuing education and lifelong learning. The School Counseling and Mental Health Counseling programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
(Courses listed in BOLD are core classes)
A. Professional Component
CEDU 605: Advanced Human Growth and Development (3 hrs.)
CEDU 610: Counseling Theories (3 hrs.)
CEDU 620: Methods of Research and Program Evaluation (3 hrs.)
CEDU 635: Advanced Psychopathology (3 hrs.)
CEDU 640: The Counselor as Professional, Practitioner, and Consultant (3 hrs.)
CEDU 650: Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling (3 hrs.)
CEDU 665: Multicultural Counseling (3 hrs.)
CEDU 699: Professional Development of the Mental Health Counselor (3 hrs.)
(CEDU 699 is the Capstone Experience for the program)
B. Skill Component
CEDU 615: The Helping Relationship (3 hrs.)
CEDU 616: Methods of Assessment and Evaluation (3 hrs.)
CEDU 621: Crisis Intervention Counseling (3 hrs.)
CEDU 625: Group Counseling (3 hrs.)
CEDU 630:* Individual Psychological Assessment and Measurement (3 hrs.)*
CEDU 645: Career Development: Theory and Practice (3 hrs.)
CEDU 646:* Couples and Family Counseling (3 hrs.)*
CEDU 647:* Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 hrs.)*
CEDU 655: Psychodiagnostics and Treatment Planning (3 hrs.)
CEDU 660:* Substance Abuse Counseling Seminar (3 hrs.)*
CEDU 667:* Seminar on Contemporary Issues in Counseling (1-3 hrs.)*
CEDU 692:* Internship in Mental Health Counseling (3 hrs.)*
* Electives: Students choose three courses for a total of nine semester hours credit.
C. Applied Component
CEDU 670: Practicum in Mental Health Counseling (3 hrs.)
CEDU 690: Internship in Mental Health Counseling (3 hrs.)
CEDU 691: Internship in Mental Health Counseling (3 hrs.)
Total: 60 semester hours
All courses in both the School and Mental Health Counseling curricula are open to all counseling students who have prerequisites and permission of the professor. Completion of prerequisites is required prior to admittance into any graduate counseling program at Gardner-Webb University. If you are unsure if a previous course sufficiently meets this requirement, or if you would like to enroll in one of the aforementioned courses prior to enrollment, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at 704-406-3987. All core courses should be completed before any student enters the practicum or internships and may be required for other courses by the professor. Graduate students should talk with their advisors when planning a course of study to be sure they include courses required to become licensed as professional counselors.
Additional Program Information
In 2013-14 there were 16 graduates of the Mental Health Counseling program and the previous year (2012-13) saw 27 graduates from the Mental Health Counseling program. Students enrolled in the Mental Health Counseling program that took the National Counselor Exam before graduation passed at an average rate of 95% from October 2012 to April 2014 (including both our Statesville and Boiling Springs campuses). Our graduation rate is 58%.