History of the Counselor Education Program
Western’s Graduate Counselor Education Program Mission Statement:
The Counselor Education Program is committed to standards of excellence in the counseling profession. The program acknowledges a commitment both to the students who will pursue professional preparation as community and school counselors, and to the larger public to be served by our graduates.
In 1974, the Counselor Education Program, initially known as the Guidance and Counseling Program, was proposed and established in “A Report prepared for the Connecticut State Department of Education in accordance with the Procedures and Standards for Certification.” Faculty from the Psychology Department were responsible for initial planning of the Guidance and Counseling Program. At this time, a Master of Science Degree was to be awarded to students who completed the 33-credit program.
In 1977, Dr. Daniel Joynt was transferred from the Psychology Department to the Education Department, with the specific charge and responsibilities for developing and coordinating the Guidance and Counseling Program. For 14 years, Dr. Joynt served as the Program’s first coordinator. Today the Program remains housed in the Education and Educational Psychology Department. In 1977 Dr. Mary Friel also transferred from the Psychology Program to the Education Department to teach courses in the new Counselor Education Program. Additionally, Dr. Esther Morgan and Dr. Harold Burke, from the Psychology Department, were asked to teach counseling courses.
In 1985, a Community Advisory Board was established to help with the ongoing development of the Counselor Education Program. In 1989, a Community Agency Counseling option was developed as a separate option from that of program’s School Counseling option. At this time, Dr. Barbara McNelis joined the Program., and became the Coordinator of the School Counseling option.
In 1990, the Counselor Education Program explored the feasibility of national accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In 1995, the credit hour requirement for both Program options was increased to 48 semester hours and the Program received initial CACREP accreditation. In 1997 full accreditation was granted through 2002. In 2002, the Counselor Education Program was reaccredited by CACREP through 2010.
In 1992, Dr. Theresa Canada joined the Counselor Education Program, and in 1994, Dr. Barbara McNelis assumed position of CACREP Unit Leader. In 1996, Dr. Kathryn Campbell joined the Counselor Education Program, and assumed the position of Unit Leader in 1999. .In 1998, Dr. Mike Gilles replaced Dr. Daniel Joynt, who retired. Dr. Mary Friel also retired that year. In 1999 Aram Aslanian joined the Counselor Education staff replacing Dr. Barbara McNelis who retired.
In the Spring of 2001, the Counselor Training Center is was established with Drs. Aram Aslanian and Mike Gilles providing supervision of counselor education students who together with counseling faculty co-facilitated family counseling sessions for participating families. As part of their Practicum and Internship experiences, students in the Community Counseling Program continue to provide family counseling and parent education under the supervision of Dr. Mike Gilles.
In early Fall of 2003, the Counselor Education Programs received full CACREP reaccreditation. In July 2003, Dr. Mike Gilles assumed the position of CACREP Unit Leader when Dr. Campbell stepped down to assume Department Chair of Education & Educational Psychology.
Graduates of the program have assumed leadership positions of the Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA) as well as the Connecticut School Counselors Association (CSCA). Two graduates of the Counselor Education Program, Bob Schmidt and Gail Lehman, have both served as Past Presidents of the Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA). Counselor Education faculty have also been active members of the Connecticut Counseling Association and the Connecticut Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (CACES). Dr. Dan Joynt has served as President of CCA; Drs. Joynt, Gilles and Aslanian have all served as chairpersons of CACES and continue to serve as Board Members of CACES providing specialized CACES Training Sessions for clinical supervisors throughout the state.
The Counselor Education Program is currently proposing a 60 credit M. S. in Counselor Education – Clinical Mental Health Counseling Option to replace the current 48-credit M. S. in Counselor Education—Community Counseling Option. This change has become necessary in order to meet the new 2009 standards of the Council for Accreditation on Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The new Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Option is projected to begin in the Fall of 2010.
The Counselor Education Program must acknowledge the on-going support and cooperation from the WCSU administration and the many schools and community agencies that have provided excellent sites and supervision for several hundred counseling students. We thank you all.