Counseling is a unique helping profession based on education social and behavioral sciences. Professional counselors help individuals grow and develop to their full potential by assisting clients in addressing both normal and developmental challenges of everyday life and dysfunction. Students are prepared for professional positions that require individuals who can work well with others, communicate effectively, tolerate ambiguity and can handle themselves in unclear interpersonal situations that can be addressed in multiple ways. The clinical approach of the Counselor Education program is developmental, educative, and preventive in nature. While education for remediation of dysfunction is a part of counselor education, the program’s emphasis is on wellness, positive resilience, and mental health. Our basic commitment is to prepare students to facilitate optimal development of persons.
The Counselor Education program faculty provides a rigorous and challenging curriculum integrating students’ personal development, knowledge bases, and skills acquisition. Students are actively engaged in and encouraged to deeply reflect upon experiential coursework and fieldwork, focused discussion, individual and group projects, and supervised practice. The Counselor Education program faculty at the University of Virginia adheres to a scientist-practitioner model of training. Consistent with this approach are the program goals of graduating counselors, counselor educators and supervisors who: (a) demonstrate competency in providing professional services to people from diverse cultural backgrounds; (b) can effectively evaluate research relevant to the clients and counseling profession; and (c) are committed to professional development and to evaluating their clinic, supervisory, teaching, and/or programmatic interventions. Further, Counselor Education students demonstrate a commitment to advocacy for their clients, students and supervisors, the systems in which they live and work, and the counseling profession.
There are two full-time entry-level professional training programs for future counselors. The counselor education entry-level programs (master’s and education specialist degrees) are designed to prepare students for positions in schools and community, mental health, and human service agencies and require a minimum of 50-60 credits. These programs are designed to prepare students for positions in schools and community, mental health, and human services agencies. In addition to entry-level programs, students may earn a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Ed.D.) in Counselor Education and Supervision. The doctoral program is designed to prepare graduates to be faculty members in counselor education programs and to participate in exemplary scholarship and leadership activities. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has conferred accreditation to the entry-level and doctoral programs in counselor education.
Brief descriptions of the counselor education program options are below; additional information is available from the Counselor Education Program, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400269, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4269 or the Curry School of Education website http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu
Counselor Education Program Options
Mental Health Counseling
The Mental Health Counseling entry-level degree program is designed to prepare ethical, culturally competent counselors to provide professional counseling services in various clinical settings. The program is designed to meet the pre-degree academic and clinical requirements established by the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Professional Counselors for independent practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor as well as for practice in a variety of settings that provide mental health services.
The Mental Health Counseling program requires a minimum of 60 (core, specialty, elective) credits. Assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders are included in the coursework. All students are required to complete a 100-hour practicum experience. Students in the Mental Health Counseling program also must complete a minimum of nine (9) credit hours in a supervised counseling internship (900 clock hours). All internship placements are based on the student’s intended work setting. The faculty-approved settings where students have served their internships include: mental health centers, women’s centers, state hospitals and training schools, facilities for clients with dual diagnoses, group homes (for youth and adults), primary prevention programs for children, youth and families, as well as multipurpose mental health agencies, and alcohol and substance abuse center.
Students must be enrolled on a full-time basis (including the summer session between their first and second years) through the Spring Semester of the second year. Students will be awarded both the M.Ed. and the Ed.S. degrees upon completion of the Mental Health Counseling program. Note that admission to the Mental Health Counseling specialty program has been suspended since Fall 2008. Prospective students interested in the Mental Health Counseling program should review information on the Counselor Education website.
The master’s degree in School Counseling, in addition to being accredited by CACREP, is approved by the Virginia Department of Education. Graduates of the School Counseling Program will be recommended for the Virginia pre-K through 12 Pupil Personnel Services License. The program is designed to prepare students to become accountable, competent, and reflective counselors who promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of PK-16 youth. The primary goal of the faculty is to prepare ethical, culturally competent counselors who address individual and systemic barriers to educational achievement and personal development in the context of a comprehensive developmental school counseling program. As specialists in school counseling services, graduates of the program will demonstrate the ability to facilitate student development in programmatic development and the three broad areas described in the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) National Standards: academic development, career, development, and personal/social development. The program is broadly based and interdisciplinary in nature.
The School Counseling program requires a minimum of 50 (core, specialty, elective) credits. Students must enroll in a full-time basis during the academic year and one summer session course between their first and second years. In addition, students may elect to take other elective classes during the summer.
Students interested in the School Counseling Program focus their training on planning, implementing and evaluating counseling programs to meet the unique social, physical, intellectual, and emotional needs of children and adolescents in school settings. Although students may focus their training on a specific age level through the choice of electives, all students in the program are required to complete a counseling field experience at both elementary (pre-K through 6) and middle/secondary (7-12) school settings. Students are assigned to practicum and internship sites in local and neighboring school districts (e.g., Albemarle County, Charlottesville City Schools, Fluvanna County Schools, Greene County Schools, Nelson County Schools, and Orange County Schools). Students’ practicum, completed in their first spring semester, is 100 hours. Students must complete their internship during the fall and spring of their second year. They must complete a minimum of 600 hours (300 each semester).
Counselor Education Doctoral Program
The doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision is designed to prepare graduates to be faculty members in counselor education programs and to participate in excellent scholarship and leadership activities. The goal of the program is to graduate exemplary counselor educators and supervisors who are highly competitive in the state, regional, and national marketplace because they have the knowledge and skills required for success in academia, in research and scholarship, and in the training, supervision, and education of masters level counselors and in leadership and professional service. In addition, graduates are expected to have advanced knowledge of counseling theory and practice, and participate in on-going self-evaluation of all aspects of their work. Further, the doctoral program is designed for students who want to emphasize the development of their research and evaluation proficiency as an integral part of their training.
In addition to coursework, doctoral students have the opportunity to obtain a variety of other professional experiences through graduate assistantships and individual and team work with faculty (e.g., research, scholarly writings, and conference presentations). To assist students in their professional development, Counselor Education faculty members strongly encourage students to collaborate with them on research, publications, and professional presentations. Further, faculty provide direct supervision to doctoral students as they complete their clinical and supervision practicum courses, their teaching internship, and as they teach and provide supervision to master’s students.
As a result of participating in the doctoral program in Counselor Education and Supervision, students are expected to demonstrate mastery of specific competencies in five broad areas: Teaching, supervision, counseling, scholarship, and leadership. Further information about these competencies is available on the Counselor Education website.
The doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision requires a minimum of 63 credit hours (beyond Master’s work), including the dissertation and doctoral counseling practice internship hours. There are four areas of concentration within the Counselor Education doctoral programs: Counselor education, investigative area, supporting coursework, advanced practice (practica in individual and group counseling, supervision, and teaching, and internship).