Counseling Program

Specializations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

The Master of Arts in Counseling program is a non-thesis program that prepares individuals to provide a variety of professional counseling services to diverse client populations in a wide range of work settings. The mission of the program is to prepare exemplary counselors who are committed to ethical practice in diverse global contexts. The program has a strong focus on leadership and advocacy in relationship to human development issues and the provision of quality services and programs for all people. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) specialization emphasizes evidence-based practice as the foundation for delivering culturally responsive interventions for clients in a variety of clinical mental health settings. The School Counseling (SC) specialization emphasizes leadership, program planning and evaluation, applied research and evidence-based interventions. The Counseling Program’s specific learning outcomes are aligned with the School of Leadership and Education Sciences’ overarching ACE themes of (A) academic excellence, (C) critical reflection and inquiry, identification with a community of practice and a (E) commitment to service, ethical practice and knowledge and skills in serving diverse populations.

The School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling specializations are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The Counseling Program utilizes benchmark assessments to determine whether candidates meet the standards required to enter the program, continue in the program and complete the program. A Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA) is utilized to provide students (also referred to as candidates) with personal and professional development feedback, to assess progress in the program and to determine the student’s readiness for the transition to the practicum and fieldwork/internship portions of clinical instruction. The CIBA is completed prior to approval to register for the Counseling Practicum.

The Counseling Program has a chapter of Chi Sigma Iota — the International Academic and Professional Honor Society for counseling — which students are eligible to join after completing at least nine units of graduate courses with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA.

School districts, community colleges and universities, career centers, community agencies, government and business organizations and private and public clinical settings in San Diego, all over the country and around the world, employ graduates of the Counseling Program. In addition, many of our graduates have gone on to doctoral programs in counseling psychology, counselor education, educational leadership, educational psychology and related fields.

The Clinical Mental Health specialization requires 60 units. Upon graduation students are eligible to become Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Interns (LPCC Interns as defined by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences). In California, LPCC Interns are required to complete 3000 post-graduate supervised practice hours and pass the licensing exam to become Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC). The program meets licensure eligibility requirements in most other states as well but students are encouraged to check specific requirements for licensure in the state in which they intend to become licensed.

The School Counseling specialization offers two concentrations: (1) a 48 unit program where students earn a PPS credential upon graduation; and (2) a 63 unit program where students earn the PPS credential and take an additional year of coursework in clinical mental health counseling to be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Intern. Students who opt to pursue the 63-unit PPS credential with LPCC eligibility should have an interest in working with children and adolescents with special emotional and behavioral needs in school settings.

Additional Requirements for Admission

Master of Arts in Counseling, School Counseling Specialization with PPS Credential

Master of Arts in Counseling, School Counseling Specialization with PPS Credential and LPCC eligibility

Master of Arts in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialization

See here for basic admission requirements.

Entance Semesters Fall
Application Deadlines Visit https://www.sandiego.edu/soles/admission-and-aid/deadlines.php
Minimum Grade Point Average 3.0 (4.0 scale) in all undergraduate coursework
Standardized Admission Test Not required. Applicants at or near the minimum GPA are recommended to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores to strengthen their application.
Additional Requirements Resume
Statement of Purpose
Two letters of recommendation
Interview The most qualified applicants to the counseling program will be invited to USD for a group interview. Applicants who are unavailable for this interview will be contacted by a faculty member for a phone interview.

PPS Credential in School Counseling

The USD Counseling Program is an accredited Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential preparation program for the school counseling specialization. Only students completing the Counseling Program’s School Counseling Specialization are eligible to apply for the California K-12 PPS–School Counseling credential.

Requirements for the Specialization in School Counseling

Applicants must satisfy all of the following:

  1. Prerequisite course: To meet the standards of the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (School Counselor), the program requires that students complete, or have completed as a part of undergraduate education, a course on cognition and learning. At USD, this program requirement is satisfied by completion of EDUC 582 Psychological Foundations of Education in a Diverse Society.
  2. Complete post baccalaureate degree study consisting of a minimum of 48 semester units in a Commission-accredited professional preparation program specializing in school counseling, including a practicum.
  3. Obtain the recommendation of a California college or university with a Commission-accredited Pupil Personnel Services program, specializing in school counseling.
  4. Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).

Courses

COUN 502 | PROFESSIONAL ORIENTATION, LAW AND ETHICS IN COUNSELING

Units: 3

This course is designed to address the development in students of a professional identity as a counselor. Students reflect on the knowledge, dispositions and skills needed to provide effective counseling interventions to diverse client populations. They are introduced to the counseling profession–its purpose, history, ethical codes, professional organizations and certification and licensing practices. Students learn about the diversity of client interventions offered by professional counselors through class presentations and interaction with practicing counselors. Students map out a plan for their professional development throughout their counseling program. This course also provides extensive practice in applying the codes of the ethical practice to different areas of counseling and explores the legal issues potentially encountered in the various areas of counseling practice. Students are exposed to concepts, experiences and cases that are designed to enhance their ability to recognize and respond to various ethical dilemmas. Students are taught how to use an ethical decision-making format. The ACA and APA ethical codes are the principal reference guides used in this class.

COUN 505 | HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Units: 3

Students examine growth and development throughout the lifespan including physical, cognitive, social and psychological functioning. Individual and group differences are studied. Students learn proactive program development and counseling strategies to enhance development and to address development and transitional issues in development at all ages.

COUN 507 | PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY, LAW AND ETHICS IN SCHOOL COUNSELING

Units: 3

This course is designed to address the development in students of a professional identity as a counselor. Students reflect on the knowledge, dispositions and skills needed to provide effective counseling interventions to diverse client populations. They are introduced to the counseling profession–its purpose, history, ethical codes, professional organizations and certification and licensing practices. This course will also prepare school counselors to think in an ethical and moral manner in all of their professional activities. The course also will examine the interplay between legal and ethical issues within mental health counseling and counseling psychology. Students will learn the major ethical guidelines of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). In addition, students will have a wide array of opportunities to apply these principles to various situations.

COUN 508 | RESEARCH METHODS IN COUNSELING

Units: 3

Students study quantitative and qualitative research designs, data analysis procedures and evaluation models as they are applied to counseling-related research questions. Findings from counseling literature are reviewed. Use of computer-based analysis programs is introduced.

COUN 510 | CAREER DEVELOPMENT ACROSS THE LIFESPAN

Units: 3

Students study career development theories and examine educational, personal, and occupational aspects of career development at all stages of the lifespan. Workplace demographics, employment trends, legal and ethical issues, worker satisfaction factors, and career development services delivery models are presented.

COUN 515 | MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Students examine the beliefs, behaviors, and values of a variety of ethnic groups. Students complete self-assessments of cultural competencies and examine their self-assessments in the context of cultural identity models. Effective techniques for providing culturally appropriate services to individuals and groups are presented.

COUN 518 | ORGANIZATION OF STUDENT SUPPORT SYSTEMS

Units: 3

Students learn to develop comprehensive plans for guidance and counseling services in K-12 settings and to evaluate service outcomes. Students develop leadership and advocacy skills for promoting quality counseling services designed to meet student needs.

COUN 520 | COUNSELING THEORIES AND PRACTICE

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Philosophical and psychological theories of personality development and functioning are presented. For each theory presented students learn the nature of the person, personality constructs, and appropriate intervention strategies and counseling goals.

COUN 526 | GROUP COUNSELING

Units: 3

Prerequisites: COUN 520

This course provides an introduction to group dynamics and group work. Group counseling approaches and models, issues of group leadership, styles of leadership, and group facilitation skills will be addressed. Consideration is also given to group counseling goals, phases of group development, and research on group dynamics and group counseling. The course is organized into a seminar for intensive examination of the theory and practice of group work and group counseling and a laboratory for experiential learning related to group process.

COUN 530 | ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES IN COUNSELING

Units: 3

Students develop skills in the development, selection, administration, and interpretation of standardized tests and other tools used to assess various cognitive, behavioral, and affective modalities.

COUN 536 | APPLIED THEORIES AND TECHNIQUES FOR COUNSELING IN SCHOOL SETTINGS

Units: 3

Students will explore and understand a variety of issues germane to K-12 counseling settings. Students will also gain competence in counseling techniques and interventions appropriate to working in these settings. Additionally, students will become familiar with and practice presentation and consultation skills suitable for working with students, parents, teachers and other school staff.

COUN 537 | SCHOOL COUNSELING CONSULTATION, CRISIS, AND TRAUMA

Units: 3

Students will gain awareness of the history, stages and purposes of consultation and develop strategies to promote, develop and enhance effective teamwork and partnerships within the school and greater community. Students will also enlarge their knowledge and skill base to effectively work with issues that may affect the development and functioning of students and explore with several specifics models for intervention in depth. In addition, students will learn about the school counselor's role in prevention and intervention strategies in school crisis situations including child abuse and neglect, suicide, substance abuse, school safety and personal loss. This course will also focus on psychological first aide and disaster mental health responses to natural and man-made disasters.

COUN 540 | CLINICAL INTERVIEWING

Units: 3

The course helps students acquire knowledge, skills and dispositions associated with the practice of individual counseling in a variety of settings. Students will practice interviewing and counseling skills in class through dyads, triads and small group interactions and will provide and receive feedback on this practice. Students will also receive direct feedback on their skill development from the instructor. The course integrates ethical-legal, cultural and gender issues throughout the semester. The instructor will use role-plays, small groups, session transcripts, videotap critiques, case discussions and lectures throughout the course. The course also addresses many of the required areas for Helping Relationships which are outlined in the 2009 Standards for Counseling Programs presented by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

COUN 541 | ADVANCED COUNSELING: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT PLANNING

Units: 3

Prerequisites: COUN 520

Students develop comprehensive case studies of clients using various assessment methods and deliver case presentations. Tests and other diagnostic tools (e.g., DSMIV) are used to formulate individual counseling intervention plans. Professional issues associated with counseling practice and collaboration with community agencies are examined.

COUN 542 | ADDICTIONS COUNSELING

Units: 3 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: COUN 520 and COUN 540

Students are exposed to required CACREP standards for addictions and substance abuse counseling. Assessment and clinical practice models are covered. Cross-cultural and ethical-legal issues are examined as well as other professional practice issues.

COUN 544 | INTRO FAMILY COUNSELING

Units: 3

This course provides students with an in-depth foundation to develop the skills needed to conduct family counseling. Family counseling is an area of specialized practice within the larger counseling profession which views the origin, maintenance, and amelioration of various issues through a lens of interpersonal relationships. Students will review relevant theory and research that will help you understand (a) normal couple and family functioning, (b) the development of couple and family problems, and (c) basic interventions designed to enhance couple and family functioning. Specific strategies for assessment and counseling will be discussed, applied, and practiced throughout the semester.

COUN 547 | RISK ASSESSMENT AND TRAUMA INTERVENTION IN CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING

Units: 3

Students are exposed to CACREP standards associated with crisis intervention. The course emphasizes forensic mental health issues (e.g. risk assessment) as well.

COUN 549 | PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY

Units: 3

This course gives CMHC students a historical perspective on the use of medication in treating mental disorders within the context of social, cultural, gender, and religious issues. The central focus will be on the major classifications of psychotropic drugs, specifying their psychiatric uses, benefits, side effects, toxicities, combinations, and biochemical actions as they work with culturally diverse clients. This course will also explore how clinical mental health counselors can best work with medical practitioners in providing more comprehensive client care.

COUN 550 | ADVANCED HUMAN SEXUALITY

Units: 3

Students are exposed to required CACREP standards and licensure requirements for human sexuality. Cross-cultural and ethical-legal issues are examined as well as other professional practice issues.

COUN 555 | EVIDENCE BASED COUNSELING THEORY AND TECHNIQUES

Units: 3

Prerequisites: COUN 520

The course addresses many of the required areas for Helping Relationships addressed in the 2009 Standards for Counseling Programs presented by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The course helps candidates acquire knowledge, skills and dispositions associated with the evidence based practice and treatment planning. The course integrates empirically supported therapy relationship variables and implementing evidence based knowledge into practice settings. This course uses methods of instruction that include case discussions, lectures, didactic and experiential approaches to teach students the evidence based/empirically supported intervention strategies commonly used in clinical counseling practice. Overall, the course is organized to expose students to the entry-level competencies related to using evidence based counseling approaches.

COUN 560 | EVIDENCE BASED COUNSELING WITH UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS

Units: 3

Prerequisites: COUN 520 and COUN 555

This course focuses on the most recent evidence based and culturally competent practices in counseling with diverse and clinically underserved populations. It is designed to inform counselors about the public mental health needs and culturally informed practices including native or indigenous healing practices in some of our most vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad. This course will address the continuum of evidence based interventions from health and wellness to working with chronic mental health issues and psychopathology.

COUN 562 | POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY: THEORY AND APPLICATIONS

Units: 3

This course provides an overview of the biopsychosocial theories and evidence based research and practices associated with the emerging fields of positive psychology, happiness, positive health, and well-being. This course builds upon the COUN 555 course by focusing on the most recent evidence based and culturally competent practices in Positive Psychology with diverse and clinically underserved populations. Students will be exposed to the public mental health needs and culturally informed practices including native or indigenous healing practices in underserved and vulnerable populations both here in the United States and abroad. The continuum of evidence based interventions from health and wellness to chronic mental health issues and psychopathology will be addressed. This course will include a laboratory experience where positive psychology techniques and skills are practiced.

COUN 564 | COUNSELING SKILLS

Units: 3

Each student will be able to demonstrate basic counseling skills, techniques and professionally ethical and legal behavior . Students develop knowledge of and skills in core counseling techniques including attending, listening, empathy and challenging. Students are introduced to and practice through peer helping, helping skills models appropriate to a variety of counseling settings. Videotaping of individual counseling sessions for purposes of assessment, self-assessment and reflection on counseling skill development is included. Students are able to accurately critique their level of skill development.

COUN 579 | SOLES EXPERIMENTAL TOPICS COURSE

Units: 1-3 Repeatability: Yes (Repeatable once for Credit)

COUN 587P | CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING PRACTICUM I

Units: 3

Practicum students demonstrate knowledge of and skills in personal/social, academic, and career development domain assessments and individual and group interventions appropriate to a variety of adult counseling settings. Course includes a minimum of 100 clock hours of practicum experience that includes a combination of peer counseling related to personal/social, academic, and career development issues; community service programs serving adult populations; job shadowing of professional counselors; observing and being a participant-observer of group dynamics in various counseling settings; and attending meetings directly relevant to the functioning of a counseling staff and/or counseling center. At least 40 hours of the practicum experience involved direct client contact. Prerequisites are required (see advisor).

COUN 588P | PRACTICUM: SCHOOL

Units: 3

In the school-based counseling practicum students demonstrate knowledge of and skills in personal/social, academic, and career development domain assessments, and individual and group interventions appropriate to K?12 counseling settings. Course includes a minimum of 100 clock hours of practicum experience that includes a combination of individual and group counseling related to personal/ social, academic, and career development issues; job shadowing with credentialed school counselors; observing and being a participant-observer of group dynamics in various school settings; participating in classroom guidance activities; attending meetings directly relevant to the functioning of a counseling staff and/or counseling center; and planning, implementing, and evaluating systemic interventions related to the organization and administration of comprehensive counseling and guidance programs. At least 40 hours of the practicum experience involves direct client contact.

COUN 590F | FIELDWORK IN SCHOOL SETTINGS

Units: 3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Prerequisites: COUN 505 and COUN 515 and COUN 518 and COUN 525 and COUN 588P

Students obtain an internship placement at a school site and function in the role of a school counselor, working under the supervision of a P.P.S. credentialed counselor on site. university supervision also is provided. School sites are selected to meet the requirements for the State of California Pupil Personnel Services Credential and School Counseling Specialization. Course must be taken a minimum of two times to meet program and/or credential requirements.

COUN 597P | CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING PRACTICUM II

Units: 3

Prerequisites: COUN 587P

Students obtain an internship placement in a clinical mental health setting under the on-site supervision of a qualified counseling professional. Course can be taken twice to meet requirements.

COUN 598P | CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING PRACTICUM III

Units: 3

Students obtain an internship placement in a clinical mental health setting under the on-site supervision of a qualified counseling professional. Course can be taken twice to meet requirements.

COUN 599 | INDEPENDENT STUDY OR RESEARCH

Units: 0.5-3 Repeatability: Yes (Can be repeated for Credit)

Independent study designed for individual student needs. Students must complete the Application for Independent Study or Research form and obtain the signatures of the faculty supervisor, Department Chair and the Associate Dean prior to registering for the course.