Academic Course Catalogs

Drop Shadow


Counseling Program

The Master of Arts in Counseling program is a non-thesis program that prepares individuals to provide a variety of professional counseling services to diverse client populations in a wide range of work settings. The mission of the program is to prepare exemplary counselors who are committed to ethical practice in diverse global contexts. The program has a strong focus on leadership and advocacy in relationship to human development issues and the provision of quality services and programs for all people. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) specialization emphasizes evidenced-based practice as the foundation for delivering culturally responsive treatment for clients in a variety of clinical and forensic mental health settings. The School Counseling (SCHC) specialization emphasizes leadership, program planning and evaluation, action research and evidence-based interventions. The Counseling Program’s specific learning outcomes are aligned with the School of Leadership and Education Sciences’ overarching ACE themes of (A) academic excellence, (C) critical reflection and inquiry, identification with a community of practice and a (E) commitment to service, ethical practice, and knowledge and skills in serving diverse populations.

The Counseling Program utilizes benchmark assessments to determine whether candidates meet the standards required to enter the program, continue in the program, and complete the program. A Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA) is utilized to provide students (also referred to as candidates) with personal and professional development feedback, to assess progress in the program, and to determine the student’s readiness for the transition to the practicum and fieldwork/internship portions of clinical instruction. The CIBA is completed prior to approval to register for the Counseling Practicum.
The Counseling Program has a chapter of Chi Sigma Iota — the International Academic and Professional Honor Society for counseling — which students are eligible to join after completing at least nine units of graduate courses with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA. The School Counseling specialization is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

School districts, community colleges and universities, career centers, community agencies, government and business organizations and private and public clinical settings in San Diego, all over the country and around the world, employ graduates of the Counseling Program. In addition, many of our graduates have gone on to doctoral programs in counseling psychology, counselor education, educational leadership, educational psychology, and related fields. Students who complete our MA program are eligible for state licensing as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in all 50 states.

General Program Requirements

Applicants to the program come from diverse educational backgrounds and life and work experiences. Applicants should specifically address the fit of the counseling program’s coursework and experience requirements to the applicant’s career goals. In the application and in the required individual and group interviews with program faculty members, applicants should provide evidence of demonstrated ability in academic endeavors and examples of effective helping skills applied in employment, intern, and volunteer settings. Recommendation letters should reflect on the applicant’s intellectual and interpersonal skills based on direct observation or supervision of the applicant.

The MA Degree requires successful completion of the following:

I. A course of study based on a core counseling curriculum and specialization courses. (Further information is provided under the Program Specializations sections below.)
The Counseling Core is designed to meet the program requirements recommended by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).
Specialization courses (described in sections below) meet the program requirements specified by the

Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for the Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling program areas. The School Counseling specialization at USD is a CACREP approved program.

II. Successful completion of the Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA).
A Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA) is utilized to provide candidates with personal and professional development feedback, to assess progress in the program, and to determine the student’s readiness for the transition to the practicum and fieldwork/internship portions of clinical instruction. The CIBA is completed prior to approval to register for the Counseling Practicum.

III. Internationalization Requirement. All students in the Counseling Program are required to participate in a program-approved internationalization experience outside of the United States. Examples of approved experiences would include study-abroad course or program participation, cross-cultural collaboration on professional or scholarly projects, participation in bi-national or multi-national collaborative research projects, joint student-faculty research abroad, and international internships. With few exceptions, the experience must take place during the student’s program of study at USD and all international activities should take place prior to the last semester of enrollment in the Counseling Program. This requirement is designed to enhance the student’s international and global perspective, particularly as it relates to professional counseling. The experience will increase student’s knowledge and skills for working with international students, employees and clients and preparing clients for educational and professional experiences in a global environment.

IV. Comprehensive Examination

V. Student Survey and Exit Interview

Program Specializations and Requirements

Students in both program areas complete courses designed to meet program requirements recommended by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). All students complete core and specialization courses of counseling courses specific to their areas of professional practice. The program requires the student to complete a 100-hour Counseling Practicum and two semesters of fieldwork or internship in a setting related to the student’s career goal. The fieldwork or internship requires completion of 600 units of supervised work at an approved site.

Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) is a 60 semester-unit graduate program providing comprehensive training at the master’s level that prepares graduates for independent clinical counseling practice in mental health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, correctional institutions, schools and universities, religious organizations, employee assistance programs, community centers and private practice. The CMHC specialization emphasizes evidenced-based practice as the foundation for delivering culturally responsive treatment for clients in a variety of clinical settings. The program includes core counseling courses, specialization courses in clinical mental health counseling and three semesters of clinical experience, Practicum I, Practicum II and Practicum III. The CMHC program was designed to meet the requirements for licensure in California as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and the basic licensing requirements in other states. Requirements for direct hours of counseling services provided to clients individually, in groups and as couples or families meet California’s licensing requirements and those of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Clinical Mental Health Counselors work with people of all ages, races, cultural backgrounds, and circumstances to help them maximize their potential, make positive changes in their lives, and achieve their goals. Students learn individual and group counseling techniques, as well as clinical consultation skills found to be effective with a variety of mental health issues ranging from life adjustment problems to serious mental illnesses. Students are trained to be culturally responsive. The CMHC specialization is designed to develop competent and culturally responsive professionals who are able to think critically about professional counselor issues, engage in evidenced-based practice, and are able to apply their skills in a variety of clinical settings.

I. Core Courses (29 units)
COUN 503 Professional Orientation in Counseling (2)
COUN 504 Prepracticum in Counseling Techniques (3)
COUN 505 Human Development (3)
COUN 508 Research Methods in Counseling (3)
COUN 510 Career Development Across the Lifespan (3)
COUN 515 Multicultural Counseling (3)
COUN 520 Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice (3)
COUN 525 Group Dynamics (3)
COUN 530 Assessment Techniques in Counseling (3)
COUN 548 Ethical, Forensic, And Legal Issues In Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3)

II. Mental Health Clinical Core (19 units)
COUN 541 Advanced Counseling: Diagnosis and Treatment (3)
COUN 543 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3)
COUN 544 Introduction to Family Counseling (3)
COUN 545 Substance Abuse Counseling (3)
COUN 546 Human Sexuality (2)
COUN 547 Crisis Intervention Counseling (3)
COUN 549 Psychopharmacology with Diverse Clinical Mental Health Clients (2)

III. Electives (3 units)

IV. Clinical Instruction in Counseling and Mental Health Practice (9 units)
COUN 587P Clinical Mental Health Practicum I (3)
COUN 597F Clinical Mental Health Practicum II (3)
COUN 598F Clinical Mental Health Practicum III (3)

Students complete a total of 9 or more units until they complete a minimum of 600 hours of supervised experience with minimum 320 direct service hours.

V. CMHC Subspecialty Requirement
During the first semester of study, CMHC students must craft a clinical subspecialty contract that outlines their plan to develop additional in-depth and advanced clinical expertise in an area of interest. The plan can include coursework, conference and workshop attendance, class projects, volunteer experiences and interviews or other contacts with mental health professionals in the sub-specialty area. The sub-specialty contract must be approved by the student’s CMHC advisor and is usually completed as part of the previously mentioned Clinical Instruction Benchmark Assessment (CIBA). All students are required to explain in writing how portions of their subspecialty contract will be fulfilled during the practicum and internship.

Specialization in School Counseling

The School Counseling Specialization requires 48 units of course work (core and specialization units). Candidates in this specialization plan to be school counselors in elementary, middle school/junior high and high school settings or to work with agencies serving K-12 children and their families. Students have knowledge and skills in student advocacy as well as in the design, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive, results-based guidance and counseling programs. The School Counseling Specialization stresses the development of leadership skills in school counseling and the use of action research as a tool for strengthening practice and developing professionally and personally. The requirements for the California Pupil Personnel Services Credential with emphasis in School Counseling can be met as part of this degree program. The program has been approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentials (CCTC) to meet current California Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPS) standards and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

I. Core Courses (30 units):
COUN 503 Professional Orientation in Counseling (2)
COUN 504 Prepracticum in Counseling Techniques (3)
COUN 505 Human Development (3)
COUN 506 Ethical and Legal Issues in School Counseling (1)
COUN 508 Research Methods in Counseling (3)
COUN 510 Career Development Across the Lifespan (3)
COUN 515 Multicultural Counseling (3)
COUN 520 Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice (3)
COUN 525 Group Dynamics (3)
COUN 530 Assessment Techniques in Counseling (3)
COUN 588P School-Based Practicum (3)

II. School Counseling Specialization Courses
Required Courses (18 units, including 6 units of fieldwork):
COUN 509 Action Research in School Counseling (3)
COUN 518 Organization of Student Support Systems (3)
COUN 536 Counseling Children and Youth in School Settings (3)
COUN 537 Applied Techniques for Counseling in School Settings (3)
COUN 590F Fieldwork in School Settings (3) (Minimum of two semesters – 6 units)

PPS Credential in School Counseling

The USD Counseling Program is an accredited Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credential preparation program for the school counseling specialization. Students completing the Counseling Program’s School Counseling Specialization are eligible to apply for the California K-12 PPS – School Counseling credential.
Requirements for the Specialization in School Counseling
Applicants must satisfy all of the following:

  1. Prerequisite course: To meet the standards of the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (School Counselor), the program requires that students complete, or have completed as a part of undergraduate education, a course on cognition and learning. At USD, this program requirement is satisfied by completion of EDUC 582 - Psychological Foundations of Education in a Diverse Society
  2. Complete post baccalaureate degree study consisting of a minimum of 48 semester units in a Commission-accredited professional preparation program specializing in school counseling, including a practicum.
  3. Obtain the recommendation of a California college or university with a Commission-accredited Pupil Personnel Services program, specializing in school counseling.
  4. Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST).

The USD Counseling Program has two options for obtaining the recommendation for the PPS credential in School Counseling:

Option 1: For students completing the USD MA in Counseling with a School Counseling specialization.
Requirements

  • Complete requirements for the MA in Counseling with the School Counseling specialization;
  • Pass CBEST; and,
  • Meet the PPS credential fieldwork requirements.*

Option 2: For students who already have a master’s degree in counseling.

(This option is periodically available, when program enrollment permits) Candidates for this option should make an appointment with the Program Coordinator for School Counseling to have previous graduate course work evaluated for equivalence to the following courses:

COUN 503 Professional Orientation in Counseling (2)
COUN 504 Prepracticum in Counseling Techniques (3)
COUN 505 Human Development (3)
COUN 506 Ethical and Legal Issues in School Counseling (1)
COUN 508 Research Methods in Counseling (3)
COUN 509 Action Research in School Counseling (3)
COUN 510 Career Development Across the Lifespan (3)
COUN 515 Multicultural Counseling (3)
COUN 520 Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice (3)
COUN 525 Group Dynamics (3)
COUN 530 Assessment Techniques in Counseling (3)
COUN 536 Counseling Children and Youth in School Settings (3)
COUN 537 Applied Techniques for Counseling in School Settings (3)
COUN 588P School-Based Practicum (3)
COUN 590F Fieldwork in School Settings (3) Minimum of two semesters, for a total of 6 units
Total fieldwork = 600 hours.

* Fieldwork: The PPS credential requires 600 hours of fieldwork completed under the supervision of a PPS-credentialed supervisor. School fieldwork must be completed at two of three levels: elementary, middle/junior, high school. Fieldwork sites are approved by the faculty member designated as the Director of Field Experiences in conjunction with the student’s advisor. Specific hours of direct contact experience, cross-cultural counseling, and group counseling are required. Students receive individual and group supervision during the fieldwork experience. Students enroll in a fieldwork course each term that they are collecting fieldwork hours until 600 hours are completed. Students must complete a minimum of 200 hours at each fieldwork site. Prerequisites: COUN 505, COUN 515, COUN 525 and COUN 588P (or approval of the Coordinator for Clinical Instruction.)

Counseling Program Courses and Seminars

COUN 503 Professional Orientation in Counseling (2)

This course is designed to address the development of a professional identity as a counselor. Students reflect on the knowledge, dispositions and skills needed to provide effective counseling interventions to diverse client populations. They are introduced to the counseling profession – its purpose, history, ethical codes, professional organizations and certification and licensing practices.

COUN 504 Pre-practicum in Counseling Techniques (3)

Each student will be able to demonstrate basic counseling skills, techniques, and professionally ethical and legal behavior. Students develop knowledge of and skills in core counseling techniques, including attending, listening, empathy and challenging. Students are introduced to, and practice through peer helping, helping skills models appropriate to a variety of counseling settings. Videotaping of individual counseling sessions for purposes of assessment, self-assessment and reflection on counseling skill development is included. Students are able to accurately critique their level of skill development.

COUN 505 Human Development (3)

Students examine growth and development throughout the lifespan including physical, cognitive, social, and psychological functioning. Individual and group differences are studied. Students learn proactive program development and counseling strategies to enhance development and to address development and transitional issues in development at all ages.

COUN 506 Ethical and Legal Issues in School Counseling (1)

This course addresses the ethical and legal issues related to school counseling professionals. Students review state and federal guidelines and laws. Ethical guidelines from CACREP are emphasized.

COUN 508 Research Methods in Counseling (3)

Students study quantitative and qualitative research designs, data analysis procedures and evaluation models as they are applied to counseling-related research questions. Findings from counseling literature are reviewed. Use of computer-based analysis programs is introduced.

COUN 509 Action Research in School Counseling (3)

This course involves acquiring knowledge and skills in action research for program improvement and accountability and professional development. Students engage in field-based action research projects in conjunction with their fieldwork and share the results of their projects through manuscript dissemination and conference presentations.

COUN 510 Career Development Across the Lifespan (3)

Students study career development theories and examine educational, personal, and occupational aspects of career development at all stages of the lifespan. Workplace demographics, employment trends, legal and ethical issues, worker satisfaction factors, and career development services delivery models are presented.

COUN 515 Multicultural Counseling (3)

Students examine the beliefs, behaviors, and values of variety of ethnic groups. Students complete self-assessments of cultural competencies and examine their self-assessments in the context of cultural identity models. Effective techniques for providing culturally appropriate services to individuals and groups are presented.

COUN 518 Organization of Student Support Systems (3)

Students learn to develop comprehensive plans for guidance and counseling services in K-12 settings and to evaluate service outcomes. Students develop leadership and advocacy skills for promoting quality counseling services designed to meet student needs.

COUN 520 Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice (3)

Philosophical and psychological theories of personality development and functioning are presented. For each theory presented students learn the nature of the person, personality constructs, and appropriate intervention strategies and counseling goals.

COUN 525 Group Dynamics (3)

Utilizes didactic and experiential learning to examine group dynamics in a variety of work and other social settings. Students develop knowledge of and skills in counseling group leadership and facilitation as well as large group presentations.

COUN 530 Assessment Techniques in Counseling (3)

Students develop skills in the development, selection, administration, interpretation of standardized tests, report writing, and other tools used to assess various cognitive, behavioral, and affective modalities used in practice. Required prerequisites: COUN 520 and professor approval.

COUN 536 Counseling Children and Youth in School Settings (3)

Students will explore and understand a variety of issues germane to K-12 counseling settings. Students will also gain competence in counseling techniques and interventions appropriate to working in these settings. Additionally, students will become familiar with and practice presentation and consultation skills suitable for working with students, parents, teachers and other school staff.

COUN 537 Applied Techniques for Counseling in School Settings (3)

Students will gain awareness of the history, stages and purposes of consultation and develop strategies to promote, develop, and enhance effective teamwork and partnerships within the school and greater community. Students also enlarge their knowledge and skill base to effectively work with issues that may affect the development and functioning of students and explore with several specific models for intervention in depth.

COUN 541 Advanced Counseling: Diagnosis and Treatment Planning (3)

Students develop comprehensive case studies of clients using various assessment methods and deliver case presentations. Tests and other diagnostic tools (e.g. DSM-IV-TR) are used to formulate individual counseling intervention plans. Professional issues associated with counseling practice and collaboration with community agencies are examined. Required Prerequisites: Practicum – COUN 588P or 589P, COUN 520 and professor approval.

COUN 543 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3)

Students review basic CACREP-relevant standards, evidence-based practice, advanced ethical concerns, and forensic mental health issues. The course also includes a clinical instruction requirement. Required Prerequisites: COUN 503, COUN 520, and professor approval.

COUN 544 Introduction to Family Counseling (3)

Students are exposed to required CACREP standards for family counseling. Cross-cultural and ethical-legal issues are examined as well as other professional practice issues. Required prerequisites: COUN 504 and COUN 520.

COUN 545 Substance Abuse Counseling (3)

Students are exposed to required CACREP standards for addictions and substance abuse counseling. Assessment and clinical practice models are covered. Cross-cultural and ethical-legal issues are examined as well as other professional practice issues. Required prerequisites: COUN 504 and COUN 520.

COUN 546 Human Sexuality (2)

Students are exposed to required CACREP standards and licensure requirements for human sexuality. Cross-cultural and ethical-legal issues are examined as well as other professional practice issues. Required prerequisites: COUN 504 and COUN 520.

COUN 547 Crisis Intervention Counseling (3)

Students are exposed to CACREP standards associated with crisis intervention. The course emphasizes forensic mental health issues (e.g. risk assessment) as well. Required prerequisites: COUN 520, COUN 530 and professor approval.

COUN 548 Ethical, Forensic, and Legal Issues in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3)

This course introduces CMHC students to issues expected as they interface with the legal system. Special emphasis is placed on the ethical-legal issues presented in forensic practice venues for assessment. CMHC students learn ethics and laws that pertain to theory and research which are needed for practice. The ethical portion includes a detailed analysis of the ethics codes from the American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counseling Association, and other relevant counseling organizations. Students translate principles into guidelines and decision making required in CMHC practice. The legal portion includes review of various State mental health-related laws.

COUN 549 PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY WITH CULTURALLY DIVERSE CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH CLIENTS (3)

This course gives CMHC students a historical perspective on the use of medication in treating mental disorders within the context of social, cultural, gender, and religious issues. The central focus will be on the major classifications of psychotropic drugs, specifying their psychiatric uses, benefits, side effects, toxicities, combinations, and biochemical actions as they work with culturally diverse clients. This course will also explore how clinical mental health counselors can best work with medical practitioners in providing more comprehensive client care.

COUN 579 SOLES Experimental Topics Course (1-3)

This course number is used by SOLES for experimental topics courses. The title and content of each 579 course will vary by topic and program/department. If more than one 579 course is offered during a single semester, section numbers will allow for identification of the course.

COUN 587P CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH PRACTICUM I (3)

Practicum students demonstrate knowledge of and skills in personal/social, academic, and career development domain assessments and individual and group interventions appropriate to a variety of adult counseling settings. Course includes a minimum of 100 clock hours of practicum experience that includes a combination of peer counseling related to personal/social, academic, and career development issues; community service programs serving adult populations; job shadowing of professional counselors; observing and being a participant-observer of group dynamics in various counseling settings; and attending meetings directly relevant to the functioning of a counseling staff and/or counseling center. At least 40 hours of the practicum experience involve direct client contact. Prerequisites are required (see advisor).

COUN 588P School-Based Practicum (3)

In the school-based counseling practicum students demonstrate knowledge of and skills in personal/social, academic, and career development domain assessments, and individual and group interventions appropriate to K–12 counseling settings. Course includes a minimum of 100 clock hours of practicum experience that includes a combination of individual and group counseling related to personal/social, academic, and career development issues; job shadowing with credentialed school counselors; observing and being a participant-observer of group dynamics in various school settings; participating in classroom guidance activities; attending meetings directly relevant to the functioning of a counseling staff and/or counseling center; and planning, implementing, and evaluating systemic interventions related to the organization and administration of comprehensive counseling and guidance programs. At least 40 hours of the practicum experience involves direct client contact. Prerequisites: COUN 504, and either COUN 503 or 520 must also be taken before this course and the remaining course taken concurrently.

COUN 590F Fieldwork in School Settings (3)

Students obtain an internship placement at a school site and function in the role of a school counselor, working under the supervision of a P.P.S. credentialed counselor on site. University supervision also is provided. School sites are selected to meet the requirements for the State of California Pupil Personnel Services Credential – School Counseling Specialization. Course must be taken a minimum of two times to meet program and/or credential requirements. Prerequisites: COUN 505, 515, 525, 588P and school specialization course COUN 518.

COUN 597F CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH Practicum II (3)

Students obtain an internship placement in a clinical mental health setting under the on-site supervision of a qualified counseling professional. Course can be taken twice to meet requirements. Prerequisites are required (see advisor).

COUN 598 CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH Practicum III (3)

Students obtain an internship placement in a clinical mental health setting under the on-site supervision of a qualified counseling professional. Course can be taken twice to meet requirements. Prerequisites are required (see advisor).

COUN 599 Independent Study (1-3)

Independent study designed for individual student needs. Students must complete the Application for Independent Study or Research form and obtain the signatures of the faculty supervisor, Department Chair, and the Associate Dean prior to registering for the course.

Reservation of the Right to Modify

To report typographical or design errors: Annie O'Brien, Academic Publications Coordinator.

For content errors, please contact the respective school or department.