Dr. Benjamin T. Willis, Co-Program Director Dr. Tiffany Bordonada, Co-Program Director
The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program prepares professional counselors to provide evidence-based culturally and developmentally competent counseling services that enhance the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, relational, and spiritual well-being of individuals, couples, families, and groups across the lifespan. Graduates of this program are prepared to counsel a wide variety of clients varying from those who seek help with everyday life concerns to those who struggle with significant emotional, cognitive, and behavioral challenges. The importance of advocacy, leadership, social justice, client empowerment, and wellness are emphasized throughout the program.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program prepares professional counselors for direct entry into or advancement in counseling positions in a variety of public and private settings. The program prepares students for this work by providing a learning environment in which they acquire the academic competencies of the profession, refine these competencies through application, and experience personal and professional development to meet the standards of Fitness for the Profession.
The program is designed to: a) Enhance knowledge of counseling concepts and practices; b) Provide individuals with the counseling skills necessary to function in agency settings; c) Prepare individuals for certification and licensure in counseling; and d) Enhance individuals’ employability in entry-level or advanced positions in the counseling profession.
Further, graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program meet the educational requirements for licensure as Professional Counselors in the state of Pennsylvania under Pennsylvania Act 136 of 1998 - The Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act. According to the provisions of Act 136, the applicant must have successfully completed a planned program of 60-semester hours of graduate course work in counseling or in a field determined by the board of regulation to be closely related to the practice of professional counseling, including a 48-semester hour master’s degree in counseling or in a related field.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Profession
According to the American Counseling Association, counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a specific field within the broader profession of counseling that provides services to clients who seek help with everyday life concerns as well as to those who struggle with significant emotional, cognitive, and behavioral challenges. Depending on the needs of the client, Clinical Mental Health Counselors may provide many services including advocacy, prevention and education, outpatient, intensive outpatient, inpatient, residential, and crisis/emergency. The settings in which Clinical Mental Health Counseling is performed are broad and include mental health agencies, college counseling centers, substance abuse and eating disorder treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, and private practice to name a few. Across all settings, Clinical Mental Health Counselors may utilize individual, couple, family, and/or group counseling to help clients meet their goals. Regardless of the specific services or setting, Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a collaborative effort between the counselor and client that empowers clients to grow towards optimal emotional, cognitive, behavioral, relational, and spiritual well-being.
The counseling profession is growing rapidly. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook projections for 2024, employment opportunities for counselors are projected to grow “much faster than the average for all occupations” through the year 2020. Jobs specific to Clinical Mental Health Counseling are projected to grow “much faster than the average for all occupations” through the year 2020, as well.
The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is a 60-credit curriculum that leads to the Master of Science degree and fulfills all the educational requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in the state of Pennsylvania. The curriculum is divided into four categories: Foundations of Professional Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Courses, Clinical Experience, and Electives for Specialization. Required credits include course work in the principles and practice of counseling, three credits of practicum (100 hours of supervised counseling experience), and six credits of internship (600 hours of supervised counseling experience). Six credits of electives are offered to provide students with opportunities for additional study in individual areas of interest and for development of skills in working with specific client populations.
Accreditation and Certification
The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program transitioned from the previously existing Community Counseling Program. The Community Counseling Program has been accredited since 1992 by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is fully accredited. Hence, graduates meet all requirements for certification as a National Certified Counselor (NCC).
Graduates may apply to the National Board of Certified Counselors to take the National Counselor Examination prior to graduation from the program. Every student who passes the certification examination will be granted recognition as an NCC. All inquiries regarding certification as an NCC and application for same should be directed to the CHS NCE Coordinator, Dr. Tiffany Bordonada: