The curriculum for the Master of Arts in Counseling degree encompasses a wide diversity of experiences, values, and perspectives. The curriculum is much more than the courses offered. It includes the advising and supervision processes, which are deeply concerned with the character and ethical identity of the counselor-in-training, and the initiation into an ethical community of practitioners. It includes peer resourcing and peer collaboration, fostered in daily collaborative work and student membership in professional organizations such as the American Counseling Association and the Virginia Counseling Association. The curriculum connects students to the broader community in many ways, including most importantly, the practicum and internship counseling placements. Finally, the curriculum includes more than these structured components in giving expression to nothing less than the character and practices of our total life together as a counselor mentoring community.
The counseling curriculum seeks to model self-aware counseling practice informed by empirically validated assessment and intervention strategies. In extensive practice opportunities in various community counseling placements our goal is to model and promote self-reflective practice by utilizing multiple levels of supervision and feedback. The content courses in the curriculum work diligently to help students understand and become intelligent utilizers of counseling research. We work constantly to find new ways to bring research and practice into productive dialog.
While the counseling curriculum takes seriously the importance of shared counseling language and generalizable theoretical orientations, we teach and model our belief in the sacredness of individual lives. We seek to help students uncover and develop their own special and unique gifts. Embedded throughout the curriculum is an emphasis on the particularity of clients’ personal, family and cultural identities. We teach systems perspectives, which honor unique identities at every level, from personality to family to culture, religion, and nationality. We strive to genuinely integrate multicultural understanding and experiences across the entire structured and non-structured curriculum.
The curriculum is firmly situated in the broader context of the Mennonite faith tradition. This tradition sensitizes us to an ethic of mutual caring and community building that emphasizes both individual adjustment and just social structures. This orientation applies equally to clients and their life contexts, and to counselors’ personal identities and the ethical aspirations of their profession.
Counselor formation is the process of internalizing a professional counselor identity. Counselor formation refers to both inner and outer development, being inclusive of development in self-awareness and maturity in articulating personal identity as well as adequate ability in meeting professional standards in counseling and an organized and articulate reflection on ones own approach to counseling.
The performance of the student through this counselor formation process forms the basis on which the faculty assesses the level of character and competency required for admission to internship and nomination for graduation. These expectations are further defined in the following list of over-arching student objectives.
Four overarching objectives guide our program training. A graduate of the Eastern Mennonite University Master of Arts in Counseling program will:
1. Be prepared academically and possess the requisite clinical and professional skills to begin work as Resident in Counseling (the name given to the graduate completing supervision hours before licensure) toward professional counseling licensure;
2. Meet program expectations in the areas of professional responsibility, theoretical and procedural knowledge, and personal and professional development; be an informed member of the relevant professional organization(s);
3. Utilize self-examination and supervision effectively to improve counseling effectiveness; and
4. Have internalized and be able to articulate an effective and theoretically grounded clinical mental health counselor identity; convey effective ways to take care of themselves in this difficult work, experiencing joy and a sense of purpose in their counseling calling.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Eastern Mennonite University is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The accreditation runs through October 31, 2017. (Note: The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is currently accredited under the 2001 standards for Community Counseling programs as a Community Counseling program. The CACREP 2009 standards combine the Community Counseling and Mental Health Counseling standards into standards for Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs. The counseling program intends to seek accreditation for this program as a Clinical Mental Health Counseling program when it comes up for reaccreditation, per CACREP guidelines.)
The Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the national accrediting body for professional counseling. To be accredited a program must demonstrate high standards in a wide variety of programmatic areas. www.cacrep.org
The content of the counseling coursework is largely structured through the standards of the Commonwealth of Virginia and CACREP. Copies of the Virginia standards are kept in the main office and may be obtained through the administrative assistant. CACREP standards can be found on their web site ( www.cacrep.org ). The CACREP standards in particular help to standardize educational requirements across states, so that degree work should meet educational requirements for professional counselors in most states. There are differences among states, however, that the student should carefully research if they plan to work in another state.
Curriculum plans may be found in this handbook. For students doing the degree in two years, very little to no deviation from these plans is possible. The two-year program is very demanding: students planning a two-year program should have the financial resources to permit full-time study, and have a high degree of emotional maturity. Students extending their studies to three or more years should work with a faculty advisor to plan a personalized course of study. Students on a three year or longer plan are required to register for a 1 SH Skill Development course in the year that they are not in practicum or internship. This will increase the credits required for graduation to 61 SH.
The rating sheet is the way course requirements and grades are documented within the program. The Rating Sheet is a helpful way to review curriculum course requirements and current status. The Administrative Assistant keeps each student’s Rating Sheet up to date, and copies are placed in the student’s departmental file.
Endorsement and Recommendation Policy
The Eastern Mennonite University M.A. in Counseling program will only recommend and/or endorse students and graduates for employment or credentialing for positions for which they were trained.
Program endorsement for LPC licensure in any state will be granted only upon full completion of the M.A. in Counseling degree. The program will assist the graduate with the licensure application process and complete paperwork certifying satisfactory completion of the practicum and internship experiences required for licensure.
The program will recommend for counseling related employment in counseling agencies those qualified students, who, as part of their practicum or internship placements, have followed all the procedures for such placements described in this handbook.
Character references for employment for non-professional counseling positions will be given by individual faculty on the basis of their personal knowledge of the student or graduate.
The style standard for written work within the program is APA. A copy of the APA Publication Manual is kept in the main office for student use, and students are encouraged to purchase their own copy. A helpful synopsis of the APA standards may be found here: http://www.apastyle.org/apa-style-help.aspx .
The graduate programs of the university have also formulated standard guidelines for quality graduate student writing, which serve as a reference point for professors’ grading of written work.
While professors may be very helpful in editing written work, the expectation is that any work submitted is largely grammatically correct and structured in correct APA style. Professors have the prerogative of not accepting written work that falls substantially below these standards.
The Academic Support Center in the library provides assistance specially geared to graduate student writing.