Rider Launches Modernized Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s Program
Dr. Nancy Westburg, director of the Counseling Services program, speaks at last year's CSI Counseling Honor Society induction.
Rider’s School of Education launched a new Master of Arts program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) for the 2011-12 academic year. This new program replaces what had been only a concentration track in the Counseling Services graduate program.
This curricular revision reflects a 2009 change in the CACREP accreditation standards, keeping Rider at the forefront of a growing field. The 60-credit program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling replaces the 48-credit master’s in Counseling Services/Community Counseling concentration, which, according to the revised CACREP standard, is being phased out. However, Rider’s Counseling Services degree with a concentration in School Counseling will remain at 48 credit hours.
The new Clinical Mental Health Counseling program features “all the core requirements of the Community Counseling track, but we added four courses to the program that added options for our graduate students,” said Dr. Nancy Westburg, professor and director of the Counseling Services program in the Department of Graduate Education. The additional courses include Substance Abuse Counseling, Strategies in Addiction Counseling, Advanced Psychopathology, and Counseling Supervision. Electives include Holistic Wellness, Gender Issues in Counseling, Approaches to Family Counseling, and Counseling with Children, Adolescents, and Their Families.
“What makes our counseling program special is the faculty’s focus on wellness counseling and positive psychology,” said Westburg. “Our emphasis is on client’s strengths, rather than on deficits.”
Westburg explained that another benefit of the revised curriculum is the variety of options available to those who complete the program, which prepares candidates for counseling positions in mental health agencies, hospitals, industry and private practice. The program meets the academic requirements for licensure as a licensed professional counselor in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as in most other states, and national certification as an Approved Clinical Supervisor and National Certified Counselor.
“What’s good is that not only does the CMHC degree prepare candidates to meet the academic requirements to become a licensed associate counselor and/or a professional counselor, but depending on their interest, they may also apply for an addictions license or certificate,” she said, referencing the separate New Jersey requirements to become an alcohol or drug counselor.
The first graduation from the CMHC degree program is anticipated in May 2013.