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MAC Curriculum and Course Information

The MA in counseling program is a 60 semester hour CACREP accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. The curriculum meets educational requirements for professional licensure in accordance with the regulations of the Virginia Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Curriculum Focus

Our curriculum includes study in the areas of professional identity, counseling theories, group counseling, counseling techniques, abnormal behavior, appraisal, career development, human growth and development, social and cultural functions, research, social and multicultural issues, ethics, spirituality and religion, addictions, marriage and family counseling, and supervised clinical work.

To graduate, the student will have met all course requirements with a minimum GPA of 3.00, obtained satisfactory internship references, met program assessment criteria for competency, and obtained the formal approval of the faculty for graduation.

Curriculum Details

Full-time students should be able to complete the program in two years (the equivalent of five semesters of full time study [two year curriculum plan]). However, many find a three year curriculum plan helpful to integrative learning.

*Students on a three year or longer plan are required to register for a 1 SH Skill Development course in the year that they are not in practicum or internship. This will increase the credits required for graduation to 61 SH.

Course Schedules

Course Descriptions

COUN 507 Professional Identity, Function & Ethics 3SH

This course addresses counselor professional identity formation, ethical and legal issues related to the practice of professional counseling, and components of sound ethical decision making. Students will explore development of their own personal counselor identity formation. Within this course students will be introduced to the counseling profession and given opportunity to examine current ethical and legal issues related to the practice of professional counseling. The course will provide students with an overview of the historical development of counseling as a profession, discussion of counselor licensure, and an overview of major professional organizations, specialties and credentialing options available to mental health professionals. Discussion of professional mental health codes of ethics relevant to counselors will assist students to explore and articulate the process of ethical decision making within the context of professional counseling.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 508 Counseling Techniques 3SH

An intensive practical experience in the arts of forming a counseling relationship. Personal feedback on interpersonal interactions and supervision of videotaped interviewing are used to help the student attain competency in the wise use of techniques in the counseling encounter and the counseling relationship.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 509 Supervision and Consultation 3SH

This course provides an exploration of the theory and practice of counseling supervision and consultation, including models, techniques, process, case conceptualization, ethical issues, multicultural competency, and legal considerations. The format of this course will combine lecture, class discussion, and experiential activities. The course will only be offered to advanced students, those students who have completed a counseling practicum and are currently enrolled in counseling internship, and will be paired with COUN 508 Counseling Techniques, which is offered to beginning students, to facilitate and experiential learning process between the two classes. Students will also use their internship placement site as an opportunity to experience supervision and consultation.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 517 Human Growth and Developmental 3SH

This course provides an advanced overview of current research and theory on life-span human development, and will enhance students’ understanding of significant developmental changes that occur over the life span. Emphasis will be placed on standard physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development as well as on issues such as diversity and socialization in relation to perceptions of human development. Professional, clinical, legal, and ethical issues will also be addressed.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 518 Integrated Counseling Process 3SH

This course provides an overview of various approaches to working with clients emphasizing emotion theory and the role of empathic attunement in healing. Class sessions and readings will explore the interpersonal therapy process and demonstrate various ways to implement experiential techniques in therapy. Students will work to further define their theory and use this to apply a variety of counseling approaches and techniques. Each student will construct a research paper that integrates their theoretical approach with techniques, interventions and applicable counseling approaches. Class sessions will emphasize experiential exercises, technique based role-plays and skill enhancement group praxis. Students are encouraged to take risks and develop their personal style in applying experiential methods in treatment.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 527 Psychopathology 3SH

This course will provide an overview of psychopathology and treatment planning with an emphasis on children and adolescents. An interactive, developmental perspective for conceptualizing psychopathology as well as resilience will be employed. In particular, the influence of development, neurobiological mechanisms, and contextual features on the emergence, exacerbation, and alleviation of psychopathology will be discussed. Contemporary diagnostic and treatment issues will be critically reviewed. 
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 528 Practicum 3SH

The practicum experience is designed to give beginning students in counseling the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge that they are developing throughout their counseling program. Prerequisites: COUN 507, COUN 508.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 530 Advanced Psychopathology 2SH

Advanced psychopathology works to build skills in integrating theory with diagnosis and intervention planning by looking at treatment of key diagnostic categories through a number of theoretical lenses, emphasizing evidence-based practices but also providing support for alternative approaches.
Syllabus (PDF) 

COUN 536 Foundations in Research and Program Evaluation: Theory, Design, and Foundational Statistics 3SH

This course will offer an overview of the research methods used in counseling and program evaluation. Students will gain experience with literature databases, research ethics, research methodologies, basic statistics and statistical software such as SPSS, and communicating research findings, and proposing research to an Institutional Review Board.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 538 Skill Development 1SH

This course is designed to meet your specific needs regarding advanced counseling skills. Skill development also provides a space for students on 3 and 4 year tracks to continue to practice skills between their practicum and internship experiences.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 547 Counseling Theories 3SH

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of central theories of counseling and psychotherapy. Key counseling theory concepts are introduced through readings, lecture, videos and small group exercises. Students will become familiar with the central tenets of each theory and engage in practical application and skill development exercises. Co-requisite: COUN 507.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 557 Assessment and Evaluation Procedures 3SH

This course provides an overview of various approaches to assessment and procedures for evaluation. Special emphasis is given to counseling decision-making, and treatment planning. Theoretical and applied material will be integrated in order to provide the student with an understanding of the context of assessment and evaluation. Emphasis will be placed on equipping students to understand technical terms in professional journals, test manuals, and test reports.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 567 Group Counseling 3SH

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the theory and practice of group counseling. The course will provide information about and training in establishing, leading, and evaluating counseling groups of various types. Within this course students will explore different theoretical approaches to counseling groups, basic principles of group dynamics which include leadership tasks, group developmental stages, and member roles. Consideration will be given to ethical, legal, and professional issues as well as special needs such as multiculturalism, life-span development concerns, and the therapist’s personal leadership style.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 587 Crisis Counseling 2SH

This course is designed to introduce students to basic crisis intervention strategies. The course
addresses fundamental crisis intervention theory and offers practical applications in various crisis
situations. Students will explore various assessment, intervention and crisis treatment issues.
Special emphasis will be placed on the impact of trauma on the individual, family and
community. Students will engage in crisis intervention role-plays and practice applying specific
interventions in crisis scenarios. Each student will engage in researching and compiling a
comprehensive community resource guide for the local community.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 607 Multicultural Counseling 3SH

Multiculturalism is both an intellectual movement and an ethical imperative within the counseling and psychology fields. This course provides an introduction to multicultural knowledge, skills and awareness that will support your work with clients. Through activities, discussion, reading and media, you will be exposed to both the theoretical movements in multiculturalism, develop skills for working with clients who differ from you. You will also explore your own values, beliefs and cultural identity and make connections to how these aspects of your personhood influence your relationship and intervention with clients. 
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 617 Counseling Children and Adolescents 2SH

Children and adolescents have very distinct needs, their own ways of communicating and of understanding and navigating the world. This two credit course provides an introduction to counseling theories, interventions and assessments appropriate for children and adolescents.  An emphasis will be placed on the principles and practice of play therapy. Course participants will also identify special populations and issues for further exploration.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 627 Marriage and Family Counseling 3SH

This course provides an overview of marital and family counseling from a systems perspective. A survey of the predominant systems theories essential in working with couples and families will be presented. Special emphasis is given to evidence based treatments and the current research on attachment theory and the role of attachment in couple and family distress. Students will become familiar with attachment issues, working from an emotion focused perspective and gain proficiency in assessment and intervention. Students will engage in learning exercises and role-plays in order to facilitate application of course content. Each student will construct a personal family genogram and engage in analyzing their family using a systems approach and use case conceptualization and treatment planning from various theories. 
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 637 Career Development 3SH

Students will be introduced to career development recognizing the importance and uniqueness of various facets of career counseling. Emphasis is given to developmental considerations and the role of testing, educational and career development program planning and implementation. Technology-based career development applications and strategies will be explored. The interrelationships among and between work, family and other life role factors will be considered with a special emphasis on gender, diversity and working with specific populations. Legal and ethical issues will be discussed as well as issues of personal faith and values.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 677 Independent Studies 

This refers to studies of specific issues or areas not covered by any of the standard offerings. These studies may be requested by the student or suggested by an instructor. Approval by the instructor and the director is required. Methodology may involve assigned readings, written reports or any other methods the supervising instructor chooses. A student should have credit for three courses and must qualify academically for independent study in the judgment of the director before approval is granted. A limited number of hours in independent study will be applied toward a degree.

COUN 687 Expressive Therapies 1SH

This course is an experiential introduction to the creative process in counseling. Participants will be invited to explore the literal and figurative context in which creativity emerges, will identify through the use of metaphor, imagery, and poetry the power of creative expression, and will find ample opportunity to discuss, reflect, and process with peers. Instructor will be drawing on a range of literature and clinical practice.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 689/690 Internship 3SH

The internship experience is designed to give advanced students in counseling the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge they have developed throughout their counseling program. Students will meet weekly to review cases, discussing areas of growth and present specific theory, intervention and technique questions. The student may select an internship site from a variety of supervised field experiences in mental health related settings. Minimum of 600 counseling hours. Prerequisite: Admission to Internship.
689 Syllabus (PDF)
690 Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 697 Addictions Counseling 3SH

This course is designed to help the student understand the personal, social, emotional, physiological, and environmental factors related to addictions, with the main emphasis on chemical addictions. Student will be exposed to the varied aspects and challenges involved in the evaluations, diagnosis and treatment process of addiction, as well as, the specific qualities and efforts of the main mood altering drugs. This course will also look at the many professional, ethical, and legal issues unique to the field of addictions counseling.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 698 Mindfulness & Psychotherapy 1SH

This course will provide a foundation for the use of mindfulness, meditation and mindful self-compassion and their applications in therapy. The course will be built on three primary pillars: personal practice of mindfulness and meditation, an understanding of the applications and populations with which one can use mindfulness and meditation in therapy, and skill-building through enactments and role play. Students participating in this course can expect to gain a breadth of mindfulness, meditation and self-compassion practices for use in therapy as well as exposure to the theory and research that supports these practices.
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN 699 Topics in Psychoanalysis: Trauma 1SH

This course frames psychoanalysis as a practice of deep listening. Listening has the capacity to transform sensation into feeling and feeling into an emotionally-informed thought. While the emphasis on listening has always been present, the influences of object-relations, intersubjectivity and field theory have radically shifted the way contemporary psychoanalysts listen in session. In light of this, questions about a person’s unique capacity to feel, dream, play, and learn from experience set the stage for therapy. In this course, an introduction to these theories will be provided. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on and articulate the way these theories and techniques inform their emerging identity as a professional counselor.   
Syllabus (PDF)

COUN699 Section B Topics: Sexual Health 1SH

This course will introduce students to the various components of sexual health and wellness that impact the practice of counseling. Students will learn about sexual health, wellness, and the important role clinical mental health practitioners have in fostering overall wellness. 
Syllabus (PDF)

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