The Counselor Education Program within the School of Education and Counseling at Purdue University Northwest offers course work leading to the Master’s of Science in Education degree. Within the broad counseling area, programs may be shaped so as to fit the setting in which prospective counselors plan to work: educational settings – elementary, secondary, higher education; or non-educational settings – social agencies, vocational/employment programs, hospital/mental health facilities, employee assistance programs, parole/probation work, etc.
Consistent with the professional views and standards in the field, and with the goal of providing education and training that will make graduates competitive in the job market, the M.S. in Education program concentration in School Counseling requires a minimum of 51 credit hours of graduate study, the M.S. in Education program concentration in Mental Health Counseling requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, the M.S. in Education program concentration in Human Services requires a minimum of 33 hours, and the certification in Addictions requires a minimum of 18 credit hours. Core courses, foundation courses, electives, and various levels of supervised practical experience comprise these hours. Our program is predominately face-to-to face, however there are some hybrid courses (i.e., partially in-class and partially online). There are no totally online courses. Skills classes and field experience classes are taught in our own Community Counseling Center using state of the art technology.
The program’s faculty is committed to establishing a thoughtful environment that promotes counselor competence, strong professional ethics and values, personal integrity and a sense of responsibility towards meeting the needs of individuals and families from diverse populations. As a result, any student receiving a grade of “C” in any two courses will be dropped from the program.
The counselor education faculty maintain that, regardless of the work setting upon which the prospective counselor plans to focus, there is a common core of preparation basic to all entrants. Most of the core is concentrated into the first half of the program so that specialization, although initiated in the early stages, will expand in the latter portion of the program.
The M.S. in Education degree is considered a terminal program in the sense that all graduates will be qualified to assume professional positions in the field. However it should be understood that further post-MS study (not necessarily doctoral) and/or training may be desirable or expected in some work settings.
The State of Indiana Licensing Division of IDOE regulates all state licensing programs at Purdue Northwest. These regulations do change, so it is imperative that prospective students, prior to matriculation into any IDOE licensing program, check with the IDOE as to current regulations that would apply directly to the individual prospective student. This is the prospective students charge, not the University’s responsibility. If a license is desired in another state or country, then it is the prospective student’s charge, not the University’s responsibility, to discover and meet said state or country regulations. Continuing students and graduates should also be well aware of state regulatory changes throughout their formal educational journey.
Standards and Guiding Principles of Our Counseling Programs
The mission of the Purdue University Northwest’s Counselor Education Program is to prepare candidates who will empower all students and clients to reach their maximum potential in the areas of academic, personal, social, and career development. In doing so, candidates graduating from these programs with be ethically and culturally competent educational and community leaders who address individual and systemic barriers to academic achievement and personal development.
Overall Program Objectives
Graduates will have a solid foundation of knowledge within the 8 CACREP core areas:
- Professional orientation and ethical practice
- Social and cultural diversity
- Human growth and development
- Career development
- Counseling and helping relationships
- Group counseling and group work
- Assessment and testing
- Research and program evaluation.
Graduates will develop and demonstrate counseling skills that allow them to work empathically and ethically with diverse clients in a variety of counseling settings.
Graduates will demonstrate professional dispositions that include self-awareness, respect, openness to constructive feedback, reliability, professionalism and ethical actions.
Graduates will demonstrate cultural awareness when interacting with clients using evidence-based interventions and programs to advocate for and serve their students, clients, and community.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling-Graduates will demonstrate the skills necessary to assess, diagnose, formulate case conceptualizations, and develop treatment plans for clients from diverse populations.
School Counseling -Graduates will demonstrate the skills to advocate for children, provide individual and group counseling, and coordinate school counseling programming that addresses the emotional, social, academic and career needs of students.
These general objectives address our goals for students in all of our programs.
- Leadership and Advocacy – To prepare students to be able to provide competent professional service and leadership within the mental health or school counseling field upon graduation; to be able to demonstrate a broad range of professional competencies relevant to the professional practice of mental health or school counseling (e.g., advocacy, counseling, consulting, professional development, leading, managing, and supervising); and to be able to act as advocates for those individuals and families to whom they provide services.
- Diversity – To prepare students to be able to demonstrate knowledge of and respect for the influence of culture, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socioeconomic class in counseling individuals from diverse populations; to be able to maintain a multicultural and global perspective, emphasizing social justice for all; demonstrate competency in implementing culturally appropriate counseling techniques of assessment, intervention, and intervention evaluation with diverse clients; and to be able to demonstrate the ability to practice in a manner consistent with a fundamental belief that all individuals have the capacity to grow, change and learn.
- Collaboration – To prepare students to be able to interact with a full spectrum of mental health or school counseling professionals; to be able to collaborate skillfully and respectfully as leaders, consultants, and team leaders in a variety of settings; and to exhibit sensitive and mature personal relationships in professional interactions.
- Programming – To prepare students to be able to develop programming that integrates theories of human behavior and human development and who possess a general knowledge of and experience with treatment modalities appropriate for a broad range of mental health service recipients and mental health service settings.
- Research – To prepare students to be able to demonstrate competency in evaluating research and applying it to counseling; to be able to bridge theory and research into practice; and to be able to determine the appropriate methods of research design and analysis when addressing professional research issues.
- Ethics/Professional Identity – To prepare students to be able to model and engage in behaviors consistent with the legal and ethical standards of the counseling profession; who can successfully establish a professional identity as mental health or school counselors; to think critically and engage in reflective, ethical, and legal practice throughout their education and their professional lives; to pursue lifelong professional and personal development through continuing education, counseling, and participation and leadership in professional organizations; and to demonstrate competency in personal and career counseling with individuals and groups.
The counselor education faculty understands counseling to be a continuous learning-oriented supportive process involving interpersonal relationships between a counselor and one or more clients carried on in a controlled social environment. The aim of counseling is to explore the clients’ perceptions of themselves and their environment, to enable them to see how they can utilize their personal resources for growth, to help them learn to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and behavior, and to be advocates for change in clients’ environments. The outcome is for clients to take constructive action on their own behalf. We believe the role of the counselor should be that of a human relations specialist within the school or social agency. This role implies a commitment on the part of counselors to act within their work and social environments as agents for constructive change of attitudes and practices, which demean or oppress individuals or groups.In order to establish and implement a quality educational program that is in accord with these basic beliefs and purposes, appropriate assumptions have been identified from which specific objectives may be stated. These assumptions are as follows:
- Preparation as a counselor should include a mixture of didactic and experiential activities. These components of the program should be presented in such a way that their relevance to counseling effectiveness might readily be previewed by students.
- Opportunities should be provided for counselor candidates to participate in group and individual counseling. We believe that self-understanding contributes to personal and professional maturity as well as to the capacity for good judgment. Who the counselor is as a person (i.e. her/his interpersonal warmth, sensitivity, acceptance, values, ethics, and ways of relating to others) is perceived as being as essential to effective counseling as what the counselor knows or has achieved. Furthermore, we believe it is vital to the congruency and integrity of counselors that they do not perceive themselves as being above the very process they use to help others grow. Consequently, participation in various counseling opportunities to examine personal values, traits, strengths, defenses, stresses, needs and ways of relating to others is essential. Counselor candidates should be committed to such self-exploration throughout their program and their career as a counselor. Candidates should indicate their acceptance of the importance of this aspect of the program prior to applying for formal admission.
- A basic emphasis of the training program should be on self-evaluation by the student on both academic and personal levels. The assumption is that a meaningful program of counselor education must facilitate this process, provide opportunities for periodic evaluation, and include appropriate alternatives for those choosing not to continue in the program.
- Interaction between students, between faculty, and between students and faculty should be encouraged and facilitated. Through such interaction channels of communication are opened, concepts are crystallized and personal and program growth is facilitated.
- Since a number of reputable approaches to the conceptualization and treatment of client concerns have been developed, no one theoretical approach should be imposed upon students. Rather, certain theoretical knowledge relevant to development of individual counseling styles is essential.
Important Things to Know About Our Program and Your New Profession
If you are admitted: You are entering a unique field of study; it is unlike many other graduate degrees. A Master’s in Education, concentration in counseling is considered a terminal professional degree that requires specific areas of training to assure you are competent to practice when you graduate. You will literally have people’s well-being in your hands at times, so the training you receive is crucial to your competency as a counselor. Consequently, our program involves a rigorous sequence of courses. To be successful in our program, you are required to attend classes regularly and to arrive on time for classes. As professional counselors, your professors are ethically responsible to serve as gatekeepers of our field. We are dedicated to training competent, ethical, and knowledgeable counselors. We expect the same commitment from our students.
Many of our courses are work and time intensive to prepare you for the counseling field. Our courses require you to be actively involved. Much of what you learn will be not just from your textbooks, but also from the didactic instruction, supervision from your professors, and discussion and experiential classroom activities with you peers. If you miss two classes in a row, you may be withdrawn from a course. Each class also has its own attendance policy that can affect your grade. This is not meant to be punitive, but rather to prepare you to step into the role of a responsible, professional counselor. If you are admitted into a counseling program, it is important for you to know that if you earn a “C” or lower in two courses, you will be withdrawn from the program.
This information is not meant to heighten your anxiety or to be punitive, but rather to provide you with a realistic view of what is required of you in this program. Professional counseling is a truly rewarding field if you successfully commit to the training needed to work effectively with clients and students and you are able to graduate from our program feeling confident about your skills as a professional counselor.
“Constructing knowledge” refers to the process by which individuals make meaning of professional information and develop personal theories about teaching, learning and human development. Individuals construct knowledge through structured educational activities and life experiences.
“Developing practice” refers to both the process by which education professionals improve how they do their job as well as to the process of developing and growing as reflective professional practitioners.
“Fostering relationships” refers to the development of those dispositions necessary to create mutually beneficial connections among people and educational institutions and organizations.
The Programs in Counseling and Mental Health faculty have adopted the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American School Counselor Association as the ethical codes governing the professional behavior of students and faculty members. It is acknowledged that students are in preparation to become helping professionals; nevertheless, the faculty expects students, particularly in their client contacts, field practice assignments, research activities and other experiences involving contact with the public, to conduct their work in accord with all standards set forth by these ethical codes. Failure to do so can bring faculty censure of the student and/or expulsion from the program.Students are encouraged to seek student membership in the American Counseling Association (ACA). ACA offers many benefits and services including a newsletter and professional journals. In addition, ACA offers professional liability insurance for student members at a reduced rate. Liability insurance is required for those students going into mental health counseling.
We also encourage students to become members in the organizations that represent their chosen field. For those in the school counseling program, it is advisable to join the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). For those students in the mental health program, it is advisable to join the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). Membership in the American Counseling Association is highly recommended.
The counseling profession is bound to the values of its governing organization (the American Counseling Association) and to those of the social sciences in which it belongs. These values include the importance of creating an interpersonal environment that is safe and accepting, with emphasis on the importance of counseling students and professionals being non-discriminatory and respectful of diverse people. The expectation of the Purdue University Northwest Counseling and Mental Health Program, then, is that students will incorporate these values by being supportive and respectful of all individuals, with particular attention to those who are different from themselves in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, language, special needs, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and geography. This expectation is in line with the Programs in Counseling and Mental Health position on diversity.
Possessing a nondiscriminatory attitude is not only expected but is to be exceeded. The program is interested in individuals who will be actively observant and introspective of their own attitudes and behavior, and when confronted with their own prejudices will work to understand their underlying beliefs and feelings and take steps toward changing them. Enrollment in this program is therefore seen as a commitment to the values of accepting and psychologically protecting all people, and to life-long scrutiny and self-examination. A deepening of this commitment is essential. Our faculty is committed to supporting the constructive personal development of all enrolled students, but will not support behavior or expressions, which are judged to be highly intolerant and/or rigid. Prospective students should understand that their displayed levels of acceptance of others in all the areas listed above will be used to evaluate their readiness for or progress during their counseling program. We trust that students who are ready for and excited about becoming skilled, highly competent counseling professionals will eagerly join us in this commitment to respect for diversity.
Yearly Assessment Updates
For those stakeholders, alumni, and students who wish to view the Counselor Education Program’s yearly Assessment Updates in the TaskStream Exhibit Room created for this purpose, you may do so at the TaskStream website. In order to view these updates, you must contact the Exhibit Room Administrator, Professor Mary J. Didelot at Mjdidelo@pnw.edu indicating the nature of your interest in obtaining a password to this room. Updates will be completed by January 31st of each year.