About the Program
The Department of Counseling offers a Master of Science in Counseling, with an emphasis in clinical mental health settings. Our program is approved by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to meet all of the educational requirements preparing students for state licensure as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC). We are also nationally accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Our emphasis is on the training of clinicians who can serve the needs of individuals and families in their communities. We train students to provide evidence-based brief and long-term counseling while maintaining professional identities as counselors and marriage and family therapists.
The program strongly emphasizes a multicultural perspective. We prepare counselors who will be sensitive to the diverse ethnic and religious heritages, lifestyles and special needs of individuals and families. Both our student body and our faculty encompass a wide range of backgrounds and values.
Each year, we accept approximately 60 students to our M.S. in Counseling Traditional Program and every three years, we accept approximately 24 students to our M.S. in Counseling Evening Cohort. For the 2014-2015 academic year, we had 68 students graduate from the Fullerton campus. Annually we typically graduate 60 students. In the past year, our completion rate was 94% and the LMFT exam pass rate was 66% and 80% for the written and clinical vignette exams, respectively. About 79% of our alumni who respond to our annual survey find employment in the mental health field after graduation.
Our theoretical orientation is grounded in humanistic, relational, and integrative principles. This means that we are respectful of different counseling philosophies, flexible in our approaches depending on client and student needs, and united in our belief that relationships remain at the core of all helping encounters. We also believe that counselors can best help people by understanding the relationship of emotional distress to family dynamics and to the social and cultural contexts that shape our lives.
Note: The CSUF Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. program in the College of Health and Human Development is distinct and different from another CSUF program, The CSUF Clinical Psychology M.S. program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Admission into programs leading to licensure and credentialing does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or credential. Licensure and credentialing requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the CSU and requirements can change at any time. For example, licensure or credentialing requirements can include evidence of the right to work in the United States (e.g., social security number or taxpayer identification number) or successfully passing a criminal background check. Students are responsible for determining whether they can meet licensure or credentialing requirements. The CSU will not refund tuition, fees, or any associated costs, to students who determine subsequent to admission that they cannot meet licensure or credentialing requirements. Information concerning licensure and credentialing requirements are available from Ginamarie Scherzi, EC-429, (657) 278-3042.
As a result of successfully completing the graduate program in counseling, students can expect to have gained didactic knowledge and supervised experience in skills, functions, beliefs and characteristics of effective counseling. The following broad goals have been developed to assist students in gaining an overview of expected accomplishments:
- Professional Orientation and Identity – Demonstrate an understanding of the counseling profession, develop an identity as a counselor and demonstrate a willingness to provide counseling services within the ethical guidelines of the counseling profession.
- Counseling Theory – Gain significant knowledge of major counseling theories in the context of individual, group, couples, families and child counseling, and to apply this knowledge to the actual counseling process.
- Helping Relationships – Demonstrate effective individual, group, couples, families and child counseling skills which facilitate client growth and to demonstrate the ability to evaluate progress toward treatment goals.
- Social and Cultural Diversity – Develop an awareness of, and an appreciation for, social and cultural influences on human behavior and to recognize the impact of individual differences on the counseling process.
- Human Growth and Development – Develop an understanding of developmental aspects of human growth and appreciation for the nature of human developmental behavior.
- Career Development – Develop an understanding of career development and related life factors and the effects on an individual’s mental health and lifestyle.
- Group Dynamics – Develop both theoretical and experiential understandings of group purpose, development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group approaches.
- Assessment – Gain knowledge and skills in assessment techniques and apply basic concepts to individual, group, couples, families and child appraisal.
- Research and Program Evaluation – Develop the ability to read, critique, evaluate, and contribute to professional research literature.
- Specialization – Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skills associated with the student’s chosen specialty (i.e., agency, school) in the areas of service, prevention, treatment, referral, and program management.
- Experiential Learning – Develop, through supervised practicum and internship experiences, an integration of the knowledge and skills needed to be successful as counselors.
- Personal Growth and Understanding – Develop, through self-reflection and insight, an understanding of oneself and the use of self in the counseling process. Develop a personal approach to counseling and client advocacy with a clear understanding of counselor functions.
CACREP Accreditation Statement
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), has granted accreditation until March 31, 2023, to the following program in the Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton: Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.S.). Learn more information at the CACREP site
Important Facts About our Program
- We offer a 63-unit program, which can be completed in as little as three years and up to five years, depending on the pace chosen by the student. Students needing to complete their prerequisites in their first semester may require a minimum of 3 ½ years.
- Fall and Spring classes meet once a week in late afternoons and evenings. Some daytime classes are available for students who prefer this time period. Summer classes meet twice a week.
- We encourage students to go through the program at a pace that fits with their family and work needs.
- Our program maintains strong links to community non-profit organizations throughout Southern California.
- Our students begin working as therapists in non-profit community agencies by their third or fourth semesters.
- Our graduates work in schools, community agencies, hospitals, government agencies, businesses and in private practice.
Student Learning Outcomes
As part of an on-going evaluation of the program, the department has established five primary Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). For each of these SLOs, assessment measures have been established to determine student progress. Each of these learning outcomes is evaluated across several courses and may be measured by grades/scores on particular assignments or evaluations by professors and practicum supervisors. The department uses this data to determine areas of strengths and areas for growth to improve student learning.
SLO: Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice
Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of: (a) the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the counseling profession; (b) ethical and legal guidelines of the profession; and (c) professional counseling credentialing, certification, and licensure.
SLO: Diversity Awareness and Sensitivity
Students will be able to: demonstrate awareness of the major cultural influences on human behavior, how those intersect with the mental health of their clients, and how they influence their own perceptions and biases regarding clients.
SLO: Clinical Skills
Students will be able to: demonstrate awareness of the social and cultural influences on human behavior; demonstrate effective counseling skills; evaluate clients’ progress; recognize and mitigate countertransference; and conduct counseling with appropriate awareness of ethical and legal issues.
SLO: Conceptualization and Treatment Planning
Students will demonstrate knowledge of counseling theories and a bio-psycho-sociocultural framework and apply them to case conceptualization. They will demonstrate the ability to appropriately use the DSM-5 (diagnostic manual of mental disorders). They will construct relevant treatment plans.
SLO: Research and Professional Writing
Students will be able to: critically analyze research methodology and the professional literature regarding a counseling topic; construct an original research project; and demonstrate professional writing skills in accordance with APA guidelines.
Dispositions and Professionalism
Students are also evaluated throughout the program for their fitness for the field, which involves their dispositions and professionalism. The Department defines a counselor’s disposition as having four components: (a) Effective and professional communication and collaboration: (b) Emotional maturity, self-awareness, and counselor presence: (c) Dependability, reliability, and ethical behavior; and (d) Respect for diversity and openness to other worldviews.
The Curriculum comprises of 63 units, most of which are in a traditional face-to-face format. The one exception is COUN 538 Crisis Intervention and Trauma Treatment, which is a hybrid modality and requires students to attend two full day Saturdays; all other coursework is remote using our learning management system (Canvas). Students can attend full time or part time, depending on their individual needs. Students can choose to take up to two courses per semester. The one course all students must take in the summer is COUN 590 Advanced Counseling Techniques, which must be taken in the year students are seeing clients during their practicum experience. Students complete the program in three to five years depending on their study plan.