Master of Science Counselor Education Program: Community and School Counseling Options Overview

Counselors are skilled professionals who are trained to enable others to gain an understanding of their lives, make decisions, resolve problems and be active. While the primary duty of the community and school counselor is to the individual, their responsibilities extend beyond the individual client to parents, school, community and to the counseling profession.

Graduates of the Community Counseling option are prepared to work in a variety of human service settings, including mental health centers, substance abuse centers, career centers, and other community agencies offering counseling services. The School Counseling option prepares students to work as counselors in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Graduates are also prepared to engage in crisis intervention. The Community and School Counseling options are accredited by CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs). CACREP is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA). Graduation from a CACREP accredited program includes the following benefits:

  • Graduates of CACREP accredited programs are allotted to sit for the NBCC exam immediately upon graduation, instead of providing documentation of two years of post-graduate supervision. NBCC recognizes the necessity for counselors to demonstrate proficiency in the CACREP core areas of study and utilizes the core as a basis for its national exam
  • Many states, including Connecticut, recognize the significance of CACREP's standards through requirements of passage of the NBCC exam or through statements or options in their regulations which give preference to CACREP graduates.

The Community and School Counseling options are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Board of Governors of Higher Education, State of Connecticut, and the Connecticut State Board of Education. We subscribe to the Policy Statement on Graduate Education, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., a nongovernmental, national organization recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA).

The School Counseling option is accredited by the State of Connecticut and prepares the student to be eligible for the Initial Educator Certificate (explained in this handbook and in the Graduate Catalog). While New York students cannot be certified by Connecticut to be school counselors in New York State, they can meet those requirements that allow them to apply for certification in their own state.

The Master of Science in Counselor Education is a 48-credit curriculum with 39 credits of coursework, 3 credits of practicum and 6 credits of internship. Both school and community tracks enable students to take electives for additional experience in areas of individual interest. Most of our students attend part-time, taking two courses a semester, completing the program in three and a half years. Students who can attend on a full-time basis should be able to complete all requirements in two and one half to three years. Courses are offered during the academic year in the late afternoon and evenings, Monday through Thursday. There are three summer sessions, two five week semesters, one in June and one in July, followed by one time-condensed session in August in which selected counseling courses and institutes are offered. There are also several intersession courses throughout the year.

The full-time faculty hold doctoral degrees in either counselor education, counseling psychology, school psychology, or educational psychology. In addition, part time faculty from the education department and from the professional community at large enable students to be exposed to a variety of theoretical and experiential perspectives regarding the role of professional counselors.

Statement of Program Objectives
The primary objective is to prepare professionals for direct entry into counseling positions in agencies, schools and other human service organizations. The program is designed to: (1) develop knowledge of counseling concepts, theories and practices; (2) develop experiential skills important for the functioning of a professional counselor; and (3) prepare students for certification in counseling. Specific objectives for community and school counselors stress that:

  1. Students will be exposed to a wide range of theoretical perspectives with an appreciation for the student's own belief system.
  2. Students will be prepared to understand human developmental issues from cognitive, affective, behavioral, and contextual perspectives.
  3. Students will be educated to view human issues from a multicultural perspective.
  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to facilitate inter and intra personal growth in both individual and group process.
  5. Students will be educated to a life-span developmental model for viewing human behavior, including career development.
  6. Students will be educated in methods of contextual evaluation, appraisal, and goal setting.
  7. Students will demonstrate their ability to research and develop interventions for counseling issues.
  8. Students will be encouraged to develop a strong identity with the counseling profession, including an understanding of its history and philosophy, and its present manifestations, through the American Counseling Association.
  9. Students will be educated to the ethical and legal parameters of the counseling professions.
  10. Students will be encouraged to view professional development as a career long process that includes continuing education and involvement with professional organizations beyond the attainment of the Master's degree.
  11. Students will attain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entry-level counselors within their specific majors.

Additional Program Objectives for Students in the School Counseling Track
The school counselor master's and certification programs prepare students to meet the Connecticut State Board of Education requirements to receive the initial educator certificate as a school counselor. The students also meet the highest standards in the counseling profession nationwide. These standards are established by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) which has accredited the school counseling program at Western.

The school counseling program prepares the student to work as a school counselor at the elementary, middle and high school levels delivering guidance services through the Developmental Guidance Model to a diverse student population. Clinical experience hours on site, through fieldwork, practicum and internship, must include practice in K through 12 with at least one experience in an urban setting.

The student is prepared to deliver comprehensive developmental counseling services through the five roles of the Developmental Guidance Model: teacher, counselor, consultant, coordinator and manager. The practicum and internships include the counseling of students, individually and in group settings, consulting with parents and staff, observations and substantial participation in classroom instruction, involvement in curriculum development and other professional activities in which a school staff is involved.

The School Counseling Program is accredited by the State of Connecticut and prepares the student to be eligible for the Initial Educator Certificate (explained in this handbook and in the Graduate Catalog). While New York students cannot be certified by Connecticut to be school counselors in New York State, they can meet those requirements that allow them to apply for certification in their own state.

Additional Program Objectives for Students in the Clinical Mental Health Track
MS in Counselor Education Program – Clinical Mental Health Counseling Option prepares students to work as the clinical mental health counselors, including drug and alcohol, family and marriage, crisis counselors, in community, mental health and agency based settings, leading to licensure s a Professional Counselor (LPC) in Connecticut and in 48 other states and Puerto Rico. Students are National Certified Counselor (NCC) eligible after passing the National Counseling Exam (NCE). WestConn’s Program is one of only five CACREP accredited programs in Connecticut (WCSU, CCSU, SCSU, UConn, Fairfield University).

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