About the Program
For the Master of Science Degree
Students matriculating in the program leading to a M.S. degree may take courses on a full-time or part-time basis (see recommended sequence of courses). The program begins in the fall semester only. Students are required to complete 60 credit hours: 48 credits of coursework and 12 credits of fieldwork. The 60-credit program includes a supervised practicum experience with a minimum of 100 clock hours (3 credits) and a supervised internship with a minimum of 600 clock hours (9 credits). This application of counseling skills in community sites will allow students the opportunity to grow into effective mental health counselors while being supervised by experienced mental health practitioners.
As most placement sites provide services to clients during regular weekday business hours, it is important for students to plan ahead for the time commitment that is required to complete the practicum and internship. It is generally not possible to complete these critical program components in the evening or on weekends. The typical internship requires 16 hours per week at the agency site. Each field experience entails working in approved clinical sites under the direction of qualified site supervisors and faculty instructors. Readiness for placement in a clinical setting is based on a student's satisfactory completion of prerequisite academic courses (minimum GPA of 3.00) and the determination by faculty that the student demonstrates personal qualities that are widely accepted in the counseling profession as the foundation of effective counseling. These qualities include, but are not limited to, flexibility, respectfulness, receptivity to feedback, capacity to listen, appropriate self-disclosure, organization, reliability, commitment to excellence and wellness, and professional integrity. They are measurable and observable in the attitudes and behaviors demonstrated by students in written assignments, classroom discussions, peer group projects, role-plays, and interactions with faculty, staff, and other students.
In the semester prior to anticipated placement in a clinical setting, faculty members familiar with the student will evaluate her or his performance on these qualities. Students who meet the criteria will be recommended for placement. Students who demonstrate evidence of deficiencies will have the opportunity to develop and implement a plan, with the aid and support of faculty, to demonstrate improvement. Students who fail to improve will not be allowed to continue in the program but will be encouraged to consult with their faculty advisor regarding alternative educational, training, or employment activities.
For the Certificate of Advanced Study
Students matriculating in the CAS program follow a part-time schedule (see recommended sequence of courses) and begin in the fall semester only. Because they will have already completed academic and fieldwork courses in counseling at the master’s level, the program is designed to build on that foundation by providing instruction in content areas that are specific to the practice of mental health counseling. The basic program entails a total of 18 credit hours: 12 credits of coursework and 6 credits of supervised internship that require a minimum of 600 clock hours providing mental health counseling services in an approved clinical setting under supervision. Students in the CAS attend classes with students in the master’s cohort. Similar to the master’s-level students, CAS students need to plan ahead to be able to complete their internship requirement at agencies that typically operate during regular weekday business hours. It is generally not possible to complete all hours in the evening or on weekends. The typical internship requires 20 hours per week at the agency site.
Because the certificate program is intended to prepare students to meet the full educational requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor in New York state, a critical part of the evaluation and admission process is a thorough review of all master’s-level coursework previously taken for the purpose of determining if the applicant has successfully completed coursework in the content areas described in the admission requirements. Applicants who lack the specified requirements, may be admitted with the expectation that they successfully complete (“B” grade or better) coursework that addresses these requirements in addition to the requirements in the CAS curriculum. In the event that the applicant has completed one or more courses included in the CAS curriculum, including having satisfied part or all the internship requirement, these courses will not need to be repeated unless the applicant earned less than a “B” grade (academic courses) or “Satisfactory” grade (internship courses). If the Admissions Committee, working under the direction of the program director, cannot determine whether an applicant meets all of the admission requirements as outlined and/or has successfully completed one or more course that is required in the CAS curriculum, the applicant will be advised to submit relevant information to the Office of Professions of the New York State Education Department requesting a formal determination. The resultant determination will be used in establishing a course of studies for the student if he/she meets the other requirements for admission. However, a student will be required to successfully complete a minimum of 15 credit hours in the St. John Fisher College program to be granted the Certificate of Advanced Study. Therefore, if needed, students may select courses from the 60-hour Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program that are not equivalent to courses already taken in their master’s program in order to satisfy the 15 credit hour minimum.
Knowledge and Skills
The content areas of knowledge and skill are based on CACREP standards and New York State requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor. We also value, and demonstrate through our pedagogy, these knowledge and skill areas:
- Clarity of written and oral communication.
- A balance of theory and practice.
- The demonstrated ability to apply knowledge to practice.
- Both the knowledge and use of empirically supported treatment modalities.
Personal Qualities and Characteristics
The mental health counseling program further seeks to facilitate the development and enhancement of personal qualities and characteristics in students which create a foundation for the successful practice of counseling:
- Flexibility and adaptability.
- Respectfulness of others including diverse populations.
- Receptivity to feedback.
- Capacity to listen and attend.
- Appropriate self-disclosure.
- Clarity of communication.
- Capacity for organization.
- Reliability and follow-through.
- Empathy, warmth, and caring.
- Confidence balanced with humility.
- Commitment to excellence.
- Professional integrity.
- Ability to balance multiple life expectations and commitment to wellness.
- Sense of humor.
There are numerous specialty areas in the profession of mental health counseling. At the present time, the mental health counseling program at St. John Fisher College has developed a focus on the treatment of adults and children in a variety of community and behavioral health settings. Other elective areas are under consideration.
The M.S program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). However, CACREP does not accredit non-degree programs such as certificate programs that are designed to for students seeking to satisfy a state’s licensing requirements. In providing counselor training opportunities to all of its students the mental health counseling program adheres to the professional standards and ethical guidelines of the American Counseling Association, the American Mental Health Counseling Association, and the National Board for Certified Counselors. Both the M.S. and CAS are also registered with the New York State Education Department, Office of Higher Education. Rules of the Board of Regents, such as those defining good moral character and unprofessional conduct, are followed. Thus, decisions about admissions and continued enrollment in this program are consistent with CACREP standards, the ethical guidelines of the profession, the laws of New York state, and the policies of St. John Fisher College.
Professional standards, state rules, and ethical guidelines acknowledge counselors' responsibility to society and are mechanisms for accountability. Personal or professional conduct that is inconsistent with these standards, rules, and ethical guidelines, as well as with those cited in the Student Code of Conduct, may prohibit an applicant from-being admitted into the mental health counseling program. Students enrolled in the mental health counseling program are expected to exhibit personal and professional conduct that is consistent with these standards, rules, ethical guidelines, and/or policies of St. John Fisher College both in the college setting and while working in practicum and internship sites. Students found to be in violation of these standards, rules, or guidelines will face appropriate action, which may include dismissal from the program and/or College.