Master’s in Mental Health Counseling Job Opportunities
- Telehealth Counselor
- Mental Health Administration
- Disability Counselor
- Private Practice Counselor/Therapist
- Hospital Staff Counselor
- Corporate Counselor
An Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling
A Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Mid-America Christian University (MACU) has the ability to advance your professional counseling career, preparing you to work in a wide range of clinical settings or Christian ministries. Licensed professional counselors and therapists have a bright job outlook, with an expected growth of 23% over the next twenty years.
MACU’s Master of Science in Counseling degree program instills a professional disposition from a Christian perspective. Coursework includes learning treatment plans and developing the ability to provide a healing presence and therapeutic relationships with their clients. Classes delve into psychotherapy techniques, psychopharmacology solutions, as well as ethics and case studies.
MACU’s online master’s in clinical mental health counseling prepares students for a rewarding career of helping others overcome their challenges and live their happiest, healthiest lives. After graduating from MACU and obtaining state licensure, students will be ready to work in private, public, and non-profit counseling roles.
Move Forward in Your Counseling Career with an Accredited, Recognized, Online Degree From MACU
Online learning is not new at MACU. In fact, it’s been a staple of our educational format since 2008. We understand the needs of working adults looking to improve their career choices and enrich their lives. Courses in MACU’s Master of Counseling degree program cost $642/credit hour and, with the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Emphasis, encompasses 60 credit hours. A practicum and internship are included.
Although this degree is offered completely online, select courses may be offered on campus depending on student interest and faculty availability. MACU’s program is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and approved by Oklahoma’s State Board of Behavioral Health.
Not Every LPC Approaches the Work from the Same Perspective
Developing your faith as you develop your ability to help others find the path to mental health and wellbeing puts you on an entirely different career track from other LPC students. You’ll learn the ethical approach to every counseling situation, not just from a book that tells you how to do it, but from within your own deep-seated beliefs and a core foundation of moral behavior.
At MACU, we believe there’s a better way to approach life and career. When you leave here, you’ll have both the knowledge and the spiritual decision-making ability to understand—and to live the difference. Learn more about the MACU School of Behavioral Science and Counseling.
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The ability to systematically perform differential diagnosis and establish the larger context for understanding the diagnosis is essential to the professional counselor. Using case studies, students will perform a structured protocol for performing a differential diagnosis with the current DSM disorders. The following primary skills will be developed: Recognizing criteria of abnormality to increase sensitivity to identifying relevant symptomatology, performing the structured steps of a diagnosis, recognizing co-occurring disorders to understand the range of issues needed for treatment planning, performing a differential diagnosis to distinguish the correct diagnosis from similar conditions, identifying the influence of medical conditions on symptomatology, predicting the impact of crisis and trauma on symptomology and functioning to further quality treatment planning, and systematically appropriately ruling out malingering, factitious disorder, adjustment disorders, and substance etiology to finalize a correct diagnosis.
Career Counseling and Development
The cornerstone of career counseling is recognizing that it touches all aspects of human life, for it involves political, economic, educational, philosophical, and social progress and change along with understanding the whole person as a member of complex social systems. The specialized content of career counseling includes initial career choice, the connection between career and personal problems, adaptations to changes in the workplace, multiple career dilemmas, and maintenance of a balanced lifestyle. The interactions of career, life, and gender roles in marriages, couples, and families will be an important focus of this course. Students will develop a comprehensive approach for skillfully performing career counseling that also incorporates personal concerns by examining and applying career assessment theory, performing major theories of career counseling and decision-making, integrating career assessment information and major types of resource information, and employing research on trends in the world of work.
Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
The foundation of counseling knowledge is the in-depth understanding of established theories of counseling. Students will perform a comprehensive study of the prominent theories of counseling and psychotherapy, issues related to their application involving diversity, the roles of spirituality and wellness as it relates to mental health and addiction clients, and how to practically apply the theories based on individual issues and needs. The study of the theories includes personality theories, theories of motivation, theories of change, and ways to analyze case studies to make high quality clinical decisions for treatment. Students will experience a special focus on theoretical reasoning in both explaining the theories and fully elucidating case examples in order to develop an integrated foundation upon which the more detailed study of the counseling field will build.
Individual Counsel & Psychotherapy Techniques
The crucial skills and strategies of counseling and psychotherapy establish a basic structure applicable to many different theories that counselors can employ and integrate into their own natural style of helping. Students will study and apply the multi-culturally sensitive micro-skills approach to provide the critical background for competence in listening, influencing, and structuring an effective counseling session with individuals, families, couples, and marriages. Through practice sessions, students will master a basic structure for the session applicable to many different theories including developing an empathic relationship and working alliance with the client, drawing out the client’s story with special attention to strengths and resources, setting clear goals with the client, enabling the client to restructure and think differently about concerns, issues, and challenges, and helping the client move to action outside the session. Students will acquire skills for identifying and addressing common issues in working with clients’ spiritual/religious issues to promote optimal functioning to increase meaning and purpose in life. Strength and character assessment and feedback will be employed to promote counselor dispositions in performing the counseling process.
Marriage and Family Systems and Treatment
Family therapy has a revolutionary emphasis on systems thinking and the search for identifiable and recurrent family patterns to be explored in this course. Students will examine the history and development of marriage, couple and family counseling including foundational theories and principles of family development, the contemporary family, family subsystems, individual and interpersonal relationships, and grasping the influence of larger systems – race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation – on the functioning of the family and its individual members. Students will utilize systemic theories to describe problems and structure solutions by acquiring knowledge of the models of marital and family counseling. Students will examine the fundamentals of the family including adopting a family relationship framework, family development, diversity in family functioning, systems theory and systemic thinking, and the development and practice of family therapy. The range of theories examined includes: Psychodynamic models, transgenerational models, experiential models, the structural model, the strategic models, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral models, social construction models, and population-based family treatments.
The foundations of biological, neurological, and physiological factors along with systemic and environmental factors affecting human development, functioning, and behavior is the primary focus of this course. Ethical and culturally relevant strategies for promoting resilience and optimum development and wellness across the lifespan will be included. Students will explore theoretical and research approaches in the study of the development of human abilities and behavior throughout the lifespan – childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Topics include developmental research methodology, variables influencing development, and basic developmental processes in physical, motor, perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social, and personality development. Applications of developmental theory to counseling are emphasized.
Highly qualified counselors comprehend research and the scientific method behind the conclusions presented. Students will compose a well-written research presentation demonstrating an experimental design for a study by constructing a hypothesis clearly delineating dependent and independent variables and explaining the framework for performing the study. The research project will include the significance, the potential impact on mental health research based on a comprehensive review of the literature, and an appropriate research design. The nature and design of experimental, observational, quasi-experimental, survey, and correlational studies will be examined related to behavioral observation. Students will assess the quality of research studies to include proper design, correct utilization of descriptive and inferential statistics, accurate analysis of the research data, and the appropriateness of the conclusions drawn from the data.
Multicultural Counseling and Treatment Planning for Individuals and Families
Providing professional counselors with multicultural counseling theory and practices for culturally competent interventions within the broad range of important areas of cultural diversity along with the in-depth study of factors resulting in diagnostic symptomatology is a major focus of this course. The scope of cultural diversity includes race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic disadvantage, and military service correlated with how they impact diagnostic interviewing, assessment methods, treatment planning, and the counseling relationship. Significantly enhancing diagnostic interviewing and assessment skills, students will extensively explore the etiology and underlying dynamics of the range of the current DSM diagnosis, design appropriate evidence-based treatment plans, and develop strategies for modifying treatment plans and processes related to cultural diversity.
Ethics and Professional Studies
The detailed study of the legal and ethical codes for professional licensure establishes a framework for ethical decision-making essential to quality practice. The major focus of study is the American Counseling Association’s ACA Code of Ethics along with investigation of other professional ethical codes. Case studies presenting common dilemmas and conflicts are extensively analyzed to identify potential risks and areas of concern, to recognize the ethical standards involved, and to understand essential principles for preventing ethical violations or properly resolving ethical issues. Students will examine the theoretical and philosophical issues fundamental to fully comprehending the codes. Major themes of study include the following: Professional socialization/relationships, the role of the professional organization, confidentiality and privacy, proper assessment and interpretation of data, supervision and training, distance counseling, technology and social media, the legal responsibilities and liabilities involving record keeping, third party reimbursement and other considerations pertaining to independent practice and interprofessional cooperation, ethics, and family law. Students will learn advocacy processes for addressing institution and social barriers that impede equity and success for clients.
Assessment of Individuals/Families in Counseling
Mental health assessment provides the counselor with information for performing correct diagnoses, developing treatment plans, uncovering the dynamics underlying psychopathology as part of the total assessment of individuals and families. Students will acquire assessment interviewing skills to include biopsychosocial assessment to increase competence in making and explaining diagnoses with assessments relevant to individual counselors as well as marriage, couple and family counselors. Students will analyze case studies to develop skills for determining the appropriateness of performing assessment, selecting types of assessment instruments and writing mental health reports. Students will administer and interpret a personality inventory and learn the purpose, basics of interpretation, and rules of administration of various assessment instruments including: Intelligence tests, personality instruments, projective tests, neuropsychological tests, and disorder specific tests.
Interventions for Individuals and Families in Crisis and Trauma
Competent professional counselors need to use methods for the practical application of research for professional development in the wider range of human issues and psychopathology. By discovering and providing research-supported information regarding a range of problems, students will become proficient in developing quality treatment plans and skilled interventions to increase the coping and resilience of individuals and families confronted with crises and trauma. The range of problem situations and psychopathological issues include: Issues impacting marriages (financial, work, dual-careers, in-laws, affairs, partner in prison, disasters, abortion); Children in the family (having children, child rearing practices, living together); singleness, separation, divorce, second marriages and beyond, blended families, step-parenting, ex-spouse, being a custodial parent, losing custody, family violence and spousal abuse (physical and sexual abuse, child abuse and neglect), addictions and substance abuse, chronic illness, hospitalizations, dying partner, effect of partner death, effect of a child’s death, gay and lesbian relationships, impact of mental illness, suicide and para-suicidal behavior, homicidally, bullying, adolescent acting out behavior, sexuality and issues of desire, sexual dysfunction, impact of unemployment and under-employment, impact of changes in the socioeconomic standing of the family.
Group Dynamics and Counseling
Applying the various theoretical models to group counseling and analyzing group dynamics in a therapeutic setting is important for the professional counselor. Students will extensively study the basic elements of group process, deal with ethical and professional issues special to group work, and determine how to apply key concepts and techniques of approaches to group counseling. Students will participate in an applied lab activity to experience the group process to acquire skills in group psychotherapy methods and demonstrate effective facilitation of a counseling group. Methods for receiving referrals, adapting groups to various settings, assessing appropriate membership, and preparing participants for receiving appropriate benefits from the group process will be presented.
Supervised clinical experience and practice in counseling fieldwork in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling, or Martial, Couples, and Family Therapy (depending on the student’s degree emphasis) as approved by the School Chair. The Practicum occurs concurrently with course work and follows the guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Practicum will total a minimum of hours over a minimum of a -week period.
Advanced supervised clinical experience and practice in counseling fieldwork in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling, or Martial, Couples, and Family Therapy (depending on the student’s degree emphasis) as approved by the School Chair. The Internship occurs concurrently with course work and follows the guidelines set forth in licensure preparation and CACREP standards. The Internship will total a minimum of hours of service. Minimum totals can be increased to accommodate various state practicum requirements for online students.
Clinical Psychopharmacology in Counseling
The foundations of therapeutic and behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs will be extensively explored in this course. The effects of medications on the nervous system, neurological functioning, cognitive processing, and emotional and behavioral functioning will be studied. Decision making processes for prescribing medications will be explained so that counselors can understand the part medications may play in treatment. Organized by disorder and, within each disorder, by medication, this course is designed to familiarize counselors with the basic terminology and models of pharmacokinetics. This study includes research on side effects, contraindications, the efficacy of all major medications prescribed for mental health disorders, and the effects of withdrawing from psychopharmacological medications.
Marital and Family Treatment Techniques
Couples, marital, and family counselors need to be empowered to apply theoretical concepts and develop real-world skills and essential competencies performed in the roles and setting of counseling with a strong understanding of the structures of marriages, couples, and families. Students will be engaged in an active learning process applying family therapy theories using theory-informed case conceptualization, clinical assessment, treatment planning, and progress notes. Students will learn to effectively determine factors to address by identifying clients’ presenting issues in alignment with a set of research-based qualities that promote stable, satisfying, and durable relationships. Students will demonstrate how to apply an array of the following theories: Systemic and Strategic Therapies, Structural Family Therapy, Experiential Family Therapies, Intergenerational and Psychoanalytic Family Therapies, Cognitive-Behavioral and Mindfulness-Based Couple and Family Therapies, Cognitive Interpersonal Therapy, Solution-Based Therapies, Collaborative and Narrative Therapies, Group Treatments for Couples and Families. A range of fundamental relationship skills will be studied that counselors can incorporate into their practice: Communication danger signs, handling conflict, problem solving, clarifying core beliefs and expectations, addressing issues and hidden issues, forgiveness, commitment, preserving and enhancing fund, friendship, and sensuality.
Tests and Measurement
Accomplished counselors integrate knowledge and skills in the areas of assessment, evaluation, and testing to perform systematic appraisal of the needs, abilities, and characteristics of clients, couples, and families. Students will synthesize the assessment process to perform accurate differential diagnoses, align theories of counseling for treatment, and utilize the complete assessment and testing process to culminate in writing comprehensive mental health reports and to construct complete treatment plans. Using the essential skills of assessment, students will use test related statistics, validity, reliability, and test item analysis to systematically evaluate tests and their construction. Students will further enhance expertise in following rules of administration and interpretation of various assessment instruments including: Intelligence tests, personality instruments, projective tests, neuropsychological tests, and disorder specific tests.
Advanced Counseling and Psychotherapy Techniques
The application of a range of treatment interventions aligned with the major theories of counseling establishes the framework for effective results-oriented counseling. Students will learn to skillfully apply counseling theory in real-world settings by intense study of theory specific approaches to case conceptualization and treatment planning. Students will examine the evidence base for each theory as well as unique applications for specific culturally and sexually diverse populations. Students will design and perform counseling sessions based on the conceptualization of treatment that incorporates a wide range of treatment interventions. Models for performing treatment can include distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation skills, cognitive thinking strategies, cognitive-behavioral methodologies, belief processing and cognitive reframing, therapeutic relaxation and mindfulness, thinking strategies, experiential changes techniques, psycho-physiological methods, and advanced therapeutic language skills.
Addiction and Chemical Dependency Counseling
This course will examine the historical foundations of chemical dependency counseling along with the theoretical and practical acquisition of Models of Addiction and Recovery. Alcoholism and substance abuse; readiness to change; counseling methods, tests and assessments for chemical dependency; and specific knowledge of alcohol and drug research will be the focus of this course. Potential for co-occurring disorders will be explored along with the impact of addiction on families, marriages and couples. Strategies will be examined to reduce the negative effects of substance use dependence and to help clients identify the impact of addiction on life, the effects of continued harmful use or abuse, and the benefits of a life without addiction. To achieve this, students will evaluate and identify individualized strategies and treatment for different populations as well as client stages of dependence and change on recovery.
Child/Adolescent Psychopathology and Counseling
Students performing differential diagnosis of disorders of childhood and adolescents according to the current DSM, explaining the disorder with an understanding of normative and non-normative aspects of development, and demonstrating the adaptation of a range of counseling theories specifically for working with that population is the primary purpose of this course. Students will examine the principles and practices of developmental psychopathology to comprehend the maladaptive patterns of emotion, cognition, and behavior in order to formulate treatment plans that promote resilience and optimum development and wellness. Students will apply theoretical models and intervention strategies to address an array of developmental, educational, personal, social, and behavioral problems to include such issues as the following: Disasters, crisis, trauma, death, violence, divorce, substance abuse, victimization of abuse, or debilitating medical conditions.