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Chicago & Online Modality | Master’s

Master’s (M.A.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Department of Counseling & Integrated Programs

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Program Overview

Adler University’s Master of Arts in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program prepares socially responsible clinicians to provide culturally sensitive therapeutic services in a wide range of clinical settings.

Our distinctive practitioner-focused program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which recognizes programs that meet or exceed the highest standards for counselor preparation.

Students have the option of selecting either an on-campus or online modality.

The on-campus modality is designed for students who prefer learning in a traditional classroom format. Classes are offered in the morning, afternoons, and evenings, and some courses are also offered in a hybrid (online or partially online) or weekend format. Full-time students in the on-campus modality can complete the program in 2 years; part-time students can complete the program in 3-4 years.

Our innovative program is designed to prepare clinical mental health counselors to serve diverse populations in both the public and private sectors. Students will train with faculty who are experienced counseling professionals and social justice activists, and graduates of the CMHC program are empowered and equipped to be agents of change for individuals, families, groups, communities, and society.

As a diverse community of learners, faculty, and students, we are dedicated to social justice advocacy through exemplary instruction, clinical work, community engagement, leadership, and scholarship. It is our goal to work collaboratively with the community to eradicate social inequities and enhance the well-being of individuals, groups, couples, and families across the life span.

Additionally, the on-campus CMHC program allows students to add on a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling for an additional 12 credits of coursework.

Request Information

      You need a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution to enroll in Adler University programs.

      Okay

      Online Modality

      The CMHC program is also offered in an interactive online modality, which can be completed in 3-4 years and is designed for students who want to complete the program in a distance learning format. Courses are delivered through the university’s learning management system.

      Most course content is taught asynchronously, allowing flexibility in scheduling. However, courses also include some synchronous meetings (e.g, zoom meets), providing opportunities for practice and building relationships with peers and professors.

      In addition to online engagement and learning, four courses will have face-to-face teaching and evaluation components that are required prior to entering practicum, which will be conducted over two 5-day residency weeks during the first and second years. Residency weeks take place at the Chicago campus, and cover the following four courses:

      • Counseling Skills (First-year Residency)
      • Counseling Multicultural Communities (First-year Residency)
      • Group Counseling (Second-year Residency)
      • Treatment Planning & Intervention (Second-year Residency)

      Student Outcomes

      Program Objectives

      The CMHC program is designed to meet the following learning objectives.

      • Program Objective 1: Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
        Describe and apply all aspects of professional practice, including history, roles, professional organizations, ethic and legal standards, counselor credentials and advocacy processes.
      • Program Objective 2: Social and Cultural Diversity
        Develop self-awareness and multicultural counseling competencies. Apply theory and research on cultural factors impacting counseling relationships in a multicultural and diverse society, and the role of social justice and advocacy to the practice of counseling.
      • Program Objective 3: Human Growth and Development
        Apply models of individual, couples, and family development in the practice of counseling with emphasis on cultural diversity across the lifespan.
      • Program Objective 4: Career Development
        Demonstrate knowledge and apply career development and decision-making models and strategies with multicultural and diverse populations.
      • Program Objective 5: Helping Relationships
        Demonstrate knowledge of theories and skills to provide ethical counseling, consultation, crisis intervention services.
      • Program Objective 6: Group Work
        Participate in, facilitate, and lead experiential group and apply group work principles and theories, methods and skills to the practice of counseling.
      • Program Objective 7: Assessment
        Demonstrate knowledge of principles of testing and measurement, including statistical concepts and apply them to individual and group assessment and evaluation.
      • Program Objective 8: Research and Program Evaluation
        Describe and recognize the importance of research and statistical based methods, statistical, needs assessment, program evaluation to inform evidence-based practice of counseling.
      • Program Objective 9: Adlerian Foundations and Principles
        Apply principles of Adlerian Theory such as purposiveness of behavior, the indivisible self, goal directed behavior, and the role of social interest in counseling and treatment planning with the goals to improve well-being of individuals, couples, groups, families, and a diverse society.
      • Program Objective 10: Social Justice/ Social responsibility
        Reflect on personal values and assumptions (privileges, disadvantages, etc.) about the nature and causes of social problems (social injustices such as poverty, racism, abuse) and gain experience and skills to advocate for systemic change through engagement and leadership in multidisciplinary, diverse community-based organizations.
      • Program Objective 11: Clinical Mental Health Counseling
        Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and practices to address a variety of issues within the clinical mental health counseling context including prevention, diagnosis, assessment, intervention, research, diversity and advocacy roles.

      Student Data

      The M.A. in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program surveys students, graduates, site supervisors, and employers to obtain useful information about the program on a regular basis. The following are the most recent program outcomes collected from summer 2019, and fall and spring 2020:

      • Currently (Fall 2020), there are 284 students in the CMHC program, including:
        • 236 students in full-time ground modality, 3-year online modality, or part-time format.
        • 35 students pursuing a dual degree with the MS in Sport and Human Performance program, and
        • 13 students pursuing a dual degree with the MA in Forensic Mental Health Leadership program.
      • The graduation rate of Summer 2019 was 92%. However, based on a 5-year maximum program completion period, the graduation rate of this program is 88%.
      • In Spring 2020, we achieved an 84% passing rate for the National Counselor Examination (licensure examination in Illinois)
      • Our latest alumni survey conducted in spring 2020 reported nearly 75% of 8 respondents being employed within a year of graduation.

      2017-2018 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Annual Report

      2018-2019 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Annual Report

      2019-2020 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Annual Report

      Careers

      Our innovative program is designed to prepare skilled and socially responsible clinical mental health counselors to serve diverse populations in both the public and private sectors. Graduates of the program are prepared to work in a wide variety of mental health positions within diverse clinical settings, including but not limited to:

      • Social service agencies
      • Private practice
      • Hospitals
      • Government agencies
      • Employee assistance programs
      • Military and TRICARE system
      • Substance abuse treatment centers
      • community mental health agencies
      • Behavioral health care organizations
      Professional Development & Training

      Gain the knowledge and skills to create real change with small, collaborative classes taught by leading practitioners and scholars in the field. Our diverse faculty brings together classroom learning with individualized mentorship and hands-on professional experience.

      Students also complete extensive clinical training, which provides opportunities to apply theory, hone counseling skills, and formulate treatment strategies with clients in a variety of hospitals, clinics, mental health centers, community organizations, and government agencies. Throughout their fieldwork, students receive close mentorship and clinical supervision by faculty. This training consists of a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship, typically at the same site.

      Student Spotlight

      Laura Esposito, student
      Master of Arts in Counseling: Specialization
      in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

      I think the most important part of our job as clinicians is to understand our clients fully. We need to know what it is like to be them. We need to ask hard questions and learn what clients don’t visually display. When looking at some of the participants from Faces of the Fox, we wouldn’t know what makes them different from us until we read their biography.

      Learn More

      Dual Degree

      Adler University has developed a dual-degree policy enabling students to pursue graduate work in two fields and fulfill the requirements of two degrees simultaneously, typically over a period of time shorter than would otherwise be required to complete both programs sequentially. Dual degrees provide students the opportunity to combine two skill sets and increase networks and career opportunities.

      M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling / M.S. Sport & Human Performance
      Adler University’s unique M.S. Sport & Human Performance / M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling dual degree program prepares graduates to work with a range of clients who struggle with everything from chronic mental illness to achieving peak performance and utilizing the sport platform to promote social justice. This unique Dual Degree program provides students a comprehensive foundation in clinical mental health counseling as well as mental skills training that leads to psychological well-being and optimal performance allowing for a range of dynamic career paths.

      M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling / M.A. Forensic Mental Health Leadership
      Stand out in the job market with a unique dual degree that offers training in mental health counseling and forensic mental health leadership—all with a focus on social justice. Our M.A. in Forensic Mental Health Leadership / M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling dual degree program prepares graduates to work with a range of clients in traditional mental health programs as well as mental health counselors with individuals, families and systems that interface with the legal and criminal justice arena. Our aim is to prepare clinicians who will be able to assess, treat, consult and apply a full array of counseling services in forensic and correctional settings, allowing for a range of dynamic career paths.

      Accreditation & Licensure

      Accreditation

      Our distinctive practitioner-focused program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which recognizes programs that meet or exceed the highest standards for counselor preparation.

      Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training clinicians who work to build and maintain bridges across social, economic, cultural, racial, and political systems through their practice. Our learning environment is collaborative and community-oriented, bringing together rigorous coursework with real-world experience.

      Licensure

      Graduates of the program are also eligible to take part in the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, after successful passage of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and completion of required experiences.

      In particular, Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for the following credentials:

      • The Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential in the state of Illinois.
      • The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) credential in Illinois, upon completing all necessary post-graduate training and supervised experiences.

      Curriculum

      The Master of Arts in Counseling: Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a 62-credit hour program that requires the successful completion of field training and courses from those listed below.

      Find course descriptions and more information in the Adler University Course Catalog here.

      Core Courses

      In alignment with CACREP standards, the CMHC program offers core coursework in the following 8 areas: Professional Orientation and Ethics, Social and Cultural Diversity, Human Growth and Development, Career Development, Group work, Counseling Relationships, Research, and Assessment. Students are required to take:

      COUN 518 - Adlerian Theory and Counseling (3 cr.)

      This course introduces the principles of Alfred Adler’s theory as a basis for understanding the development of an individual’s unique style of living or personality. These principles include the purposiveness of behavior, the indivisible self, goal-directed behavior, and the role of social interest in mental health and social progress.

      CMHC 538 - Professional Functions of Clinical Mental Health Counselors (3 cr.)

      This course orients students to the roles and functions of clinical mental health counselors. Topics include the nature and history of the field of clinical mental health counseling, the function of care coordination across different service delivery formats, as well as the policies and regulations that impact counselors.

      COUN 532 - Professional, Legal, and Ethical Issues (3 cr.)

      This course provides a foundation for the ethical practice of professional counseling. It introduces students to the history of the counseling profession as well as professional roles (practitioner, supervisor, educator, etc.) and professional organizations.

      COUN 533 - Counseling Theories (3 cr.)

      This course provides a survey of models and theories consistent with current research (evidenced-based) and practice in the counseling profession. Approaches include psychoanalytic, individual psychology, person-centered, existential, cognitive-behavioral, Gestalt, family systems, and postmodern theories.

      COUN 534 - Counseling Skills (3 cr.)

      This course teaches basic relationship and counseling skills using role-plays and other experiential activities. The course covers basic counseling skills (e.g., attending, active listening, building rapport), intake interviewing, and self-reflection/self-assessment procedures.

      COUN 535 - Diagnosis Maladaptive Behavior (3 cr.)

      This course provides an overview of the major disorders in the current edition of the DSM. A range of mental disorders from adjustment disorders to serious psychopathologies will be discussed.

      COUN 536 - Counseling Multicultural Communities (3 cr.)

      This course is designed to provide a basic foundation of knowledge, awareness, and skills needed for providing more effective counseling services in a multicultural society.

      COUN 540 - Group Counseling (3 cr.)

      This course introduces students to theory and principles of group dynamics as well as developmental stages of groups. In addition, group members’ roles and behaviors and therapeutic factors of group work will be discussed.

      CMHC 617 - Treatment Planning and Intervention (3 cr.)

      This course is designed to assist students in expanding their counseling knowledge and skills. Students will learn to formulate treatment goals and intervention strategies integrating theory, assessment, and diagnostic information for a variety of client problems, including assessing and managing suicidal risk and crisis intervention.

      COUN 618 - Couples and Family Counseling (3 cr.)

      This course presents an overview of major models of couples and family therapy. The impact of multigenerational and environment factors on family dynamics and couples’ relations will be examined through various systemic perspectives.

      COUN 622 - Human Growth & Development (3 cr.)

      This course presents an overview of various models and theories in the discussion of the characteristics, developmental needs, and tasks at different stages of a person’s life cycle.

      COUN 625 - Research & Program Evaluation (3 cr.)

      This course is a master’s-level introduction to research methods and program evaluation as it pertains to the field of professional counseling. Major research designs including both quantitative and qualitative methods will be explored.

      COUN 626 - Appraisal and Assessment (3 cr.)

      This course will provide foundational knowledge of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation commonly used in counseling practice. Students will be introduced to a variety of formal and informal assessment tools and instruments.

      COUN 629 - Career Development Theories & Interventions (3 cr.)

      This course will examine career development and decision-making models and ethical counseling applications to diverse/multicultural client populations. Students will select, administer, interpret, and evaluate a variety of assessment instruments (online, etc.) and utilize educational and labor market information for the purpose of career planning and development.

      COUN 630 - Addiction Counseling (3 cr.)

      This course provides an introduction to substance use and the treatment of addictive disorders. Assessment of substance use disorders and current treatment models for substance use, misuse, abuse, dependence, and concurrent disorders are discussed.

      CMHC 615 - Crisis Intervention and Trauma Counseling (3 cr.)

      This course will introduce students to crisis intervention models and associated responses to clients’ mental health needs during crises, disasters, and other trauma-causing events. Strategies and procedures for assessing risk, including suicide, aggression, and self-harm will also be covered.

      Field Training and Seminars

      All students enrolled in the CMHC program must complete a 200-hour community-based social justice practicum experience. Students also complete a 100-hour clinical practicum experience and a 600-hour clinical internship located at an external site.

      SJP 513 - Social Justice Practicum I (On-ground Modality) (1 cr.)

      The Social Justice Practicum (SJP) is a first-year, nonclinical and non-discipline-specific experiential practicum that begins in the fall term. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to utilize collective power and social justice strategies to build a more equitable society. The SJP is designed to help students learn how to work alongside different communities as agents of social change and serves as the catalyst for students to realize and understand their own strengths and responsibility to contribute to social equity.

      SJP 514 - Social Justice Practicum II (On-ground Modality) (1 cr.)

      The Social Justice Practicum (SJP) is a first-year, nonclinical and non-discipline-specific experiential practicum that continues through the spring term. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to utilize collective power and social justice strategies to build a more equitable society. The SJP is designed to help students learn how to work alongside different communities as agents of social change and serves as the catalyst for students to realize and understand their own strengths and responsibility to contribute to social equity.

      SJP - 515 Social Justice Practicum I (Online Modality) (0.5 cr.)
      SJP - 516 Social Justice Practicum II (Online Modality) (0.5 cr.)
      SJP - 517 Social Justice Practicum III (Online Modality) (0.5 cr.)
      SJP - 518 Social Justice Practicum IV (Online Modality) (0.5 cr.)
      CMHC 693 - CMHC Practicum & Seminar (2 cr.)

      CHMC Practicum provides a forum for students to attain supervised clinical experience in which the students develop basic counseling skills and integrate professional knowledge. Practicum requires students to complete 100 hours of field training in a clinical mental health setting, including attaining 40 direct hours through both individual and group counseling.

      CMHC 694 - CMHC Internship & Seminar I (2 cr.)

      Following completion of practicum, internship is a supervised capstone clinical experience in which the student refines basic counseling and integrates and authenticates professional knowledge and skills appropriate to the clinical mental health counseling settings and initial postgraduate professional placement.

      CMHC 698 - CMHC Internship & Seminar II (2 cr.)

      This is a continuation of students’ internship experience with the goal to complete the 600-hour requirement. At the conclusion of both the practicum and internship, students should be able to demonstrate competencies that enable them to be clinically and culturally competent, ethical, and socially responsible entry-level practitioners.

      Comprehensive Exam

      CMHC 995 - CMHC Comprehensive Exam (0 cr.)

      The CMHC Comprehensive Examination evaluates general knowledge as a professional counselor. Included in this exam is an assessment of the student’s understanding of theoretical knowledge across a range of core subject areas found in the student’s curriculum.

      Electives (Six Credit Hours)

      The Department of Counseling and Integrated Programs offers a variety of elective courses to their program students. CMHC students are required to take two electives that are three-hour courses each*.

      Students can take electives offered by the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program or they can choose a course from the department elective menu, upon their faculty advisor’s approval. Depending on the offering cycle, please note that not all the electives are offered at the same time, and may not be available for both on-ground an online students.

      We recommend that Canadian students take the thesis series as the elective should they plan to pursue doctoral studies in Canada. The three-course thesis series counts as one of the electives.

      *Online students or students who intend to be licensed from other states will want to refer to their state’s Professional Counselor licensure curricular requirements. To prevent licensure delays, you may want to consider taking these other courses as your electives while completing your degree.

      Examples of the electives offered by the Department include:

      COUN 550 - Preparation for Applied Thesis (1 cr.)

      The purpose of this course is to review policies and procedures pertinent to completion of a thesis as a degree program requirement. The course instructor will assist students in selecting and/or refining an appropriate topic for empirical study, identifying a faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor, identifying a second reader, and developing a research proposal that will form the foundation for their final thesis.

      *Part of Thesis Series

      COUN 551 - M. A. Thesis I (1 cr.)

      The M.A. Thesis is a student-directed study conducted in consultation with an approved faculty member in a theoretical, methodological, or applied psychological area relevant to the curriculum.

      *Part of Thesis Series

      COUN 552 - M. A. Thesis II (1 cr.)

      The M.A. Thesis is a student-directed study conducted in consultation with an approved faculty member in a theoretical, methodological, or applied psychological area relevant to the curriculum.

      *Part of Thesis Series

      Child & Adolescent Counseling (3 cr.)
      Psychedelic-Assisted Counseling (3 cr.)
      Counseling Older Adults and Families (3 cr.)
      Counseling and Human Sexuality (3 cr.)
      Animal Assisted Therapy (3 cr.)
      Mind, Body, and Meditative Practices in Counseling (3 cr.)
      Medical and Psychosocial Aspects of Disability (3 cr.)
      Advanced Couple and Family Counseling (3 cr.)
      Advanced Couples Counseling (3 cr.)
      Existential and Gestalt Therapy (3 cr.)
      Asian Meditation Therapies (3 cr.)
      Counseling Difficult, Defiant Adolescents (3 cr.)
      Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Aspects of Addictions (3 cr.)
      Advanced Addictions Treatment (3 cr.)
      Advanced Adlerian Theory and Practice (3 cr.)
      Psychopharmacology in Counseling (3 cr.)
      Introduction to Play Therapy (3 cr.)
      Advanced Play Therapy (3 cr.)
      Introduction to Sport & Human Performance (3 cr.)

      This foundational course is designed to help students understand the origins and functions of the related fields of sport and human performance. It will include a historical analysis of the creation of sport psychology, tracing its roots to exercise science and cognitive-behavioral theory. Professional organizations focused on both areas will be discussed (e.g., Association for Applied Sport Psychology [AASP], U. S. Olympic Committee Sport Psychology & Mental Training Registry, American Psychological Association Division 47-Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology).

      Contemporary Issues in Cultural Sport Psychology (3 cr.)

      This course examines the historical, social, and cultural factors influencing sport and physical activity. Pertinent cultural issues, theories, and research applications will be considered in the scholarly pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the sociological influences on sport, exercise, and physical activity.

      Social Justice Practicum

      200-hour internship to give students real world experience

      A unique and proven program designed to give students real world experience throughout their time at Adler University, the Social Justice Practicum is a required 200-hour internship that spans four courses (or terms for online programs). Every student is given a number of civic-minded categories to choose from. They submit their desired areas of interest. After which, they are assigned a specific and aligned community outreach site where they will work 8 to 10 hours per week.

      Learn about Adler’s Social Justice Practicum

      Faculty Spotlight

      Mark Bilkey, Psy.D.
      Associate Chair, Department of Counseling and Integrated Programs

      Counseling or therapy is a calling. Given this, I believe that students have an inborn wisdom. For me, teaching is helping the student use this wisdom for the purpose of reducing another’s pain. Learning occurs through acquired knowledge and skill, experience, mentoring, and self-trust. Openness, compassion, self-reflection, and critical thought are also doors for the student to enter on a path of transformation. My teaching philosophy is to create environments to facilitate this transformation.

      Learn More

      Admissions Requirements

      Admissions requirements:

      • A baccalaureate degree earned from a regionally accredited college or university or an equivalent degree from an international college or university.
      • A recommended GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate and graduate coursework. Exceptions may be made for applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic performance or academic ability in other ways.
      • Approved applicants will be invited for a personal interview as the final step in the application process.

      Applicants are required to submit the following items to be considered for admission:

      • Application and application fee
      • Statement of Intent (2-3 pages, double-spaced) answering the following questions:
        • Why are you interested in your chosen field and program?
        • Why is Adler University’s program a good fit for you?
        • What are your career goals and interests?
      • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
      • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended (U.S and Canada)
        • Please have official transcripts sent directly to the Office of Admissions
        • Unofficial transcripts may be accepted for any schools in which a degree was not
          received
        • International transcripts must be evaluated by a transcript evaluation service
      • Two letters of recommendation
        • These should be from someone who can specifically speak to your academic and professional abilities

      Approved applicants will be invited to complete an interview with faculty.


      Please submit all application materials including official transcripts to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.

      Adler University – Office of Admissions
      17 N. Dearborn Street
      Chicago, IL 60602

      Official electronic transcripts should be sent to [email protected].

      Information for International Applicants

      Tuition & Fees

      Tuition for Adler University’s programs is charged each term according to the number of registered academic credits. The number of credits a student will register for varies by academic program and by term. To estimate the amount of tuition and fees that would be charged in a given term, please use our Tuition Estimator tool below, or read about tuition and fees for all Chicago programs.

      Tuition Estimator

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