Master's in Mental Health Counseling

Program Mission Statement

Generalist Practitioner Model. The focus of the program comes from a generalist counseling training model, i.e., the program is designed to prepare counselors to assume the full range of professional responsibilities in a variety of human service agencies, organizations, and school settings. The MS in Mental Health Counseling prepares students to become licensed mental health counselors (LMHC). The training model, which integrates behavioral science theory and knowledge with practitioner skills, assumes that the effective counselor has a strong understanding of the theoretical and scientific basis of professional concepts and techniques. This graduate program is based on a general practitioner model.

Respect for diversity. The MS program in Mental Health Counseling, in concert with the larger University, is committed to Principles for a Just Community. As detailed in the Graduate Bulletin, these principles include striving toward the ideals of justice and democracy, and exclude consideration of characteristics that are irrelevant to the merit of an individual as a participant in academic life. The consequent respect for—and valuing of—individual and cultural diversity is a hallmark of the University as well as of the MHC program.

Core Values. Stemming from the tradition of the mental health counseling professional specialty to facilitate human growth and development, we focus on client assets and strengths. Thus, while recognition of abnormality and pathology is an essential skill, the training in our MHC program emphasizes patterns of normal development, and students are exposed to theory and methods that relate to both prevention and remediation of intra- and interpersonal human concerns. Moreover, also following from tradition in counseling, is the importance of understanding the person in his or her sociocultural context. Whether the context in question is one of education, occupation, relationship, family, culture, or other systems, training in our program includes a focus on the individual, on the nature of that person’s environmental context, as well as on the quality of the interaction between the two.

A major aspect of our MHC program concerns valuing diversity. Diversity in our program is found in coursework (integrated throughout every professional course and in a required course devoted specifically to multicultural perspectives – ECPY 627), the opportunities to explore issues of individual and cultural diversity, to learn a variety of theoretical orientations, to study with a multicultural array of students and faculty, to work with a range of client populations, to practice in multiple work settings with diverse clientele, and to engage in a variety of professional roles (i.e., counselor, consultant). Moreover, we have adopted the 2009 Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity that was jointly developed by the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs, the Association of Counseling Center Training Agencies, and the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP). (This statement appears on our website at: http://www.albany.edu/counseling_psych/masters_diversitystatement.shtml).

Another important program value is self-reflection. Because we are expected by society to provide ethical, high quality services to a diverse public, and because the skills required to provide quality services are varied and complex, students require self-knowledge, personal as well as professional. Thus, integral to our training program is a focus on personal growth and development. Students are expected to be self-reflective; to promote self-reflection, the faculty strive to create a stimulating, professional learning environment that is cohesive, supportive, collegial, and sensitive to individual, lifestyle, and cultural differences.

Finally, we believe that quality training is both sequential and comprehensive. That is, all coursework, applied practice, and professional development activities are designed and scheduled to promote a graduated series of learning tasks. For example, clinical training proceeds from pre-practicum, to practicum and internship in the community.