The Graduate Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling offers a state-of-the-art Master of Science (M.S.) in clinical mental health counseling. Its mission is to prepare professional counselors to work in clinical mental health and community settings, in order to promote individual and community wellness, resilience and recovery. In addition, our graduates will be prepared to meet the needs of individuals with mental health challenges and related substance use disorders. The program is designed to be highly accessible to working adults, in order to encourage a diverse group of students, including people currently working in the field, people in recovery and family members, as well as the general public. Graduates demonstrate a strong grounding in the knowledge and skills of the counseling profession, as well as in: person-centered and strength-based approaches; culturally competent practice in a multicultural and diverse society; integrated, evidence-based clinical practice in mental health and addictions, and a commitment to leadership, systems change and advocacy within the profession, the community, and the larger society.
The program combines face-to-face instruction and remote and online activities geared to adult learners. Intensive weekend instruction (classes meet one weekend per month) is provided for cohorts “on location” in several states across the country, including New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Alaska. The program is administered out of NVU in Vermont, for all locations, and the program offered is identical across sites, in terms of curriculum, faculty, and delivery model.
The program’s primary focus is clinical mental health counseling. It also offers a unique emphasis in integrated clinical mental health and substance use counseling and also emphasizes clinical and leadership skills in counseling, community-based behavioral health and other social service settings. Students complete a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, requiring 63 to 66 credits, dependent on whether students complete 700 or 1,000 hours of practicum and internship. Students in the Master of Science degree complete all of the required course work for an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, across the lifespan, and also complete a specialization in integrated mental health and substance use treatment for children, youth, and families or for adults. Faculty are scholar/practitioners who bring national and local expertise in clinical mental health and addictions counseling, integrated service delivery, research and administration to the program. The program prepares students to pursue licensure as clinical mental health or professional counselors and also covers much of the educational content required for certification/licensure as a substance use counselor.
- Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Specializations in Integrated Mental Health and Addictions Treatment for:
- Children, Youth, and Families
- Professional Development/Continuing Education course work
The curriculum in the Graduate Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.S.) is based on a set of core competencies that have been drawn from research literature, evidence-based and promising clinical practices and input from professionals, service users and their families. The program is aligned with counseling standards, but is not CACREP accredited.
The program has been recognized as an Innovative Practice by the Annapolis Coalition in 5 categories: consumer and family / adult mental health, child / adolescent and school-based mental health, leadership, rural mental health, and substance use disorders treatment and persons in recovery. Program competencies emphasize clinical mental health counseling, organizational leadership and advocacy, culturally relevant practice, and core values for service delivery in rural and urban settings, including: integrated clinical mental health and substance use counseling, recovery oriented approaches, integration with physical health care, wrap-around and strength-based approaches and intervention, community-based support, evidence-based practice, family partnership, and developmentally appropriate practice (from infancy through adulthood and the challenges of aging).
The program was also the seed organization for the Vermont Cooperative for Practice Improvement and Innovation (www.vtcpi.org), now a membership-driven Cooperative focused on practice improvement in mental health and substance use systems.
Weekend Format and Field Experience
The Master’s program begins with an Orientation. Subsequent classes meet one weekend per month across the calendar year, face-to-face or via zoom, as scheduled by the program. Three-credit courses typically last eight weeks and involve two full weekends of instruction. Students continue their learning online and at home through readings, written assignments, other course materials, and application in their internship and work settings.
Students complete a 100-hour Practicum and two or three 300-hour internships that are taken concurrently with other course work. Students complete an integrative Masters Project as a culminating learning experience on a topic of their choice, toward the end of the course sequence.
The curriculum has been designed, in the states in which it is offered, to meet the educational requirements for licensure as a clinical mental health or professional counselor. The program also works with state substance use counseling certification boards to cover much of the required content. Additional course work and internships may be offered. Licensure is not guaranteed, as requirements may change and licensure also requires applicants to pass national and state exams and complete post-master’s supervised practice.
The Graduate Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, M.S. (PCMH), has been offered at Northern Vermont University since the fall of 2018. The program was founded at Trinity College of Vermont in 1995 as a collaborative effort among the Center for Community Change through Housing and Support, Trinity College of Vermont, and the Vermont Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services. The program received significant financial support from the Van Ameringen Foundation. When Trinity College closed, PCMH became a program of Southern New Hampshire University from 2001 to 2018.
Now, at Northern Vermont University, the Master of Science requirements, curriculum and course work remain the same. PCMH and the Master of Arts in Counseling at Northern Vermont University have aligned 9 courses and continue to collaborate on curricula and learning outcomes. The curriculum and course work will continue to be designed to meet the educational requirements for licensure as a Clinical Mental Health or Professional Counselor in the states in which the program is offered, and to include content that also prepares graduates to pursue licensure or certification as Substance Use Disorder counselors.
The collaboration among these two programs (M.A. and M.S. in Counseling) and the Vermont Cooperative for Practice Improvement and Innovation, offers significant opportunities for expanding the options for mental health, counseling and addictions studies, within the excellent current constellation of undergraduate, graduate and professional development offerings at Northern Vermont University.
Students who successfully complete a Counseling Masters (MA in CSL, MS in CMH) will:
1. Knowledge: Use academic study to develop content area knowledge in the common core areas in counselor education, as well as for specializations in clinical mental health, substance use disorder and school counseling.
This includes: counseling and helping relationships; history of and orientation to the counseling profession; ethical practice; social and cultural diversity; human growth and development; group counseling; diagnosis, assessment and testing, and research and program evaluation.
2. Counselor Disposition: Demonstrate, in the classroom and in field placements, growth towards a counselor disposition grounded in a strengths-based, person-centered, wellness and recovery-oriented and ethical approach.
This includes: empathy, respect, genuineness, acceptance, openness, and professional behavior.
3. Counseling Skills & Practice: Demonstrate, in the classroom and in field placements professional counseling practice, grounded in culturally relevant, evidence-based and promising approaches.
This includes: foundational counseling skills, teaming and collaboration, and state-of-the-art interventions in integrated mental health, health and SUD counseling. (Evidence-based and promising approaches includes an understanding of the value of peer-run services and community-involvement and inclusion.)
4. Ethics: Develop a personal code of ethics, grounded in the ACA, AMHCA, ASCA and NAADAC codes, which reflects an understanding of diverse world views, cultural competence as relevant to the counselor role, and ethical practice.
This includes: self-awareness, personal growth, self-care, supervision and ethics related to clinical practice, research and academic honesty.
5. Leadership & Systems Change: Demonstrate ability to critically analyze information for purposes of program evaluation, advocacy, consultation, systems change and personal and organizational leadership.
Information includes: the research literature, data collected to evaluate personal practice and programs, first person-accounts and client satisfaction.