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Graduate School » Professional Studies » Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MS)

Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

With a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, you will be prepared to function as a licensed mental health counselor in healthcare, residential, private practice, community agency, governmental, business and industrial settings. As part of the requirements for this graduate degree, you will get field training in a practicum of your choice. The goal is to help you develop skills and experience that directly relate to your interests and future career. The evening class schedule allows you the flexibility to continue working while completing your degree.

Program Outline (60 Credit Hours)

Curriculum Plan

All courses are three credit hours, unless stated otherwise.

Major Courses (54 Credit Hours)

  • PSYC 500 Research Methods and Statistics
    • Basic methods of research and evaluation in the behavioral sciences. An overview of research and evaluation designs, their strengths and limitations. Application of statistical methods and data-gathering techniques.
  • PSYC 501 Advanced Human Growth and Development
    • Physiological, social and psychological developmental processes from conception to maturation. Review of stages of development, patterns of behavior, and exploration of current social issues related to development.
  • PSYC 502 Foundations and Contextual Dimensions of Mental Health Counseling
    • Studies include examination of the historical, societal, cultural, economic, and political dimensions of mental health counseling, as well as the assumptions and roles mental health counselors play within the context of health and human services systems.
  • PSYC 518 Lifestyle/Career Counseling
    • Career counseling theories and skills across the lifespan will be explored. Recent developments in lifestyle, theorists and theoretical constructs, as well as practical delivery systems in school and community mental health agencies will be examined.
  • PSYC 522 Social and Cultural Issues
    • Major social problems in contemporary society and their impact upon counseling will be probed. Exploration of subgroups and cross-cultural issues as well as emphasis on sensitizing students to ethnocentrism and development of respect for diversity in all its guises.
  • PSYC 528 Testing and Appraisal of Individuals
    • Introduction to the major concepts of psychological testing: reliability and validity; standardized tests; ethnic, cultural, sexual and age-related factors; ethical standards for development and usage; test construction; interpretation.
      Prerequisite: PSYC 500
  • PSYC 530 Personality/Counseling Theories
    • Introduction to counseling theories and psychological processes involved in individual counseling.
      Including but not limited to analytical, phenomenological, person-centered, existential, behavioral, and cognitive/behavioral. Students will refine their own theory of personality and counseling. Case studies.
  • PSYC 544 Counseling Skills
    • Demonstration and supervised practice (role play) of micro-counseling skills, including attending behaviors, questioning, paraphrasing, summarization, reflection of feeling, confrontation, and reflection of meaning. Students will refine their counseling techniques, integrating acquired skills and influencing strategies with personal style. Prerequisite: PSYC 530
  • PSYC 548 Group Processes in Counseling
    • Group work studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, other group work approaches, and ethical issues related to group work. Prerequisite: PSYC 530
  • PSYC 535 Psychopathology
    • Overview of psychopathology, with emphasis on etiology, symptoms, sociocultural factors, system effects of disorders, and maladaptive patterns of behavior. Current diagnostic and classification systems and treatment approaches will be explored.
  • PSYC 570 Marriage and Family Counseling
    • System approach, theoretical formulations, counseling techniques/strategies, research findings, treatment issues, and ethical/social concerns in marriage and family counseling are studied. Prerequisites: PSYC 530, 544
  • PSYC 576 Psychopharmacology
    • Psychopharmacology as related to the professional practice of mental health counseling. Includes basic physiology and neurobiochemistry: nervous system, neuron functioning, and neurotransmitter substances. Introduction to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Clinical psychopharmacology related to anxiety, mood, and psychotic disorders and geriatric, child, addiction, personality, and impulse disorder populations.
  • PSYC 577 Psychodiagnosis
    • Overview of the benefits and limitations of clinical diagnosis. Intensive examination of the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association), including but not limited to the criteria for differential diagnosis. Clinical interviews and mental status exams (to obtain sufficient information for diagnosing) plus the compilation for information into a cohesive report will be emphasized. Prerequisite: PSYC 535
  • PSYC 578 Professional Orientation: Ethical and Legal Issues
    • Studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning, including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing. In-depth study of ethical and legal codes of conduct of the counseling profession, i.e., American Counseling Association, American Association of School Counselors, American Psychological Association. Focus on ethical decision making related to the counseling process. Value clarification, rights and responsibilities of both counselor and counselee, competence, working with culturally diverse populations, as well as current legal guidelines related to maintenance of records, confidentiality, reporting child abuse/neglect, duty to warn and protect, and involuntary commitment will be examined.
  • PSYC 580 Practicum: Mental Health Counseling
    • Practicum provides for the development of individual counseling and group work skills under supervision. Required are a minimum of 100 agency clock hours, of which 40 hours minimum are direct service with clients (one quarter of these hours should be in group work). This represents approximately 2.5 days per week of work over the 15-week semester. Students receive a minimum of 1 hour per week of face-to-face supervision from the on-site supervisor and 1.5 hours of on-campus group supervision by the course instructor. Students will be visited at their host agency by their practicum instructor. Practicum will be taken prior to and may not be taken concurrently with internship.
      Prerequisites: PSYC 544, 548, 577, 578; Program Director approval; to be taken toward the end of the academic program
  • PSYC 582 Internship: Mental Health Counseling
    • Internship in Mental Health Counseling provides an opportunity for the student to perform under supervision a variety of activities that a regularly employed staff member in a mental health treatment setting would be expected to perform. PSYC 582 Internship is completed either over 1 or 2 semesters for a minimum of 600 agency hours, which includes 240 direct client service hours.
      Prerequisites: PSYC 580; Program Director approval
  • PSYC 591 Advanced Mental Health Internship
    • Advanced Internship requires an additional 300 hours of clinical experience in a mental health agency/facility, of which 120 are direct client service. Advanced Internship is completed over one semester and requires approximately 20 hours work for 15 weeks.  Prerequisite: PSYC 582; Program Director approval
      Note: While students may be paid for their clinical experiences (such paid positions are rare), it is as a student employee, and all aspects of the clinical experience must reflect a structured, student-status, learning experience. Students’ current employment is NOT automatically acceptable as a substitute for their course-of-study clinical experience requirements. No Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credit will be granted for clinical experience requirements.

Elective Courses – Pick two (6 Credit Hours)

  • PSYC 529 Human Sexuality
    • Physiological, social, and psychological factors in human sexual behavior at various ages and stages of development: normal and deviant behavior, physiological processes and correlates, attitudes and stereotypes, description and etiology of sexual dysfunctions, and common treatment strategies.
  • PSYC 545 Substance Abuse Counseling
    • Overview of the physiological, biochemical, social, and psychological aspects of psychoactive substance disorders. Examination of the rehabilitative potential of Alcoholics Anonymous/Alanon and the major propositions of the disease concept of alcoholism. Differential diagnosis of psychoactive substance use, abuse, and dependence will be explored.
  • PSYC 550 Behavior Modification
    • Explores the principles and specific procedures of behavior modification. Including but not limited to collection of behavioral baseline data, setting objectives, analysis of procedures, evaluating behavioral programs, record keeping, and impact on the behavior of individuals.
  • PSYC 566 Play Therapy
    • Designed to provide an understanding of the theoretical/pragmatic aspects of children’s play. Play will be discussed both as a developmental “phase stage” and as a therapeutic process. Course focus will be upon the psychological world of the child, including the relationship between the child’s internal world and external manifestations through play.
  • PSYC 574 Specialized Techniques in Counseling
    • Prepares students to function effectively in managed care environments by examining treatment protocols for commonly encountered emotional/behavioral diagnoses, including but not limited to depressive disorders, panic and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, ADHD, parenting skills training, and sexually abused/abusing populations. Prerequisite: PSYC 530

Clinical Instruction in Mental Health Counseling

  • PSYC 580 - Practicum
    • Is a 15-week, 1-semester course. Practicum students complete a minimum of 100 hours of clinical work during the semester, including a minimum of 40 hours of face-to-face client contact (one quarter of these face-to-face hours are to be spent conducting group therapy). Practicum usually requires working approximately 8-10 hours per week at the agency. One and a half hours of on-campus group supervision and one hour of individual face-to-face supervision are also required each week. A grade of “Pass” must be achieved before proceeding to internship.
  • PSYC 582 - Internship
    • Includes 600 hours of clinical work where 240 hours involve providing face-to-face client service. There are two options for completing the requirements for PSYC 582 - Internship:
      - One Semester Option: 15 weeks, 600 agency hours minimum including 240 hours of face-to-face client service. Requires 40 hours’ full-time work for 15 weeks, and two hours of individual face-to-face supervision per week in addition to 1.5 hours of on-campus group supervision.
      - Two Semester Option: 30 weeks, 300 agency hours minimum including 120 hours of face-to-face client service during each of the two semesters. Requires approximately 20 hours per week for 30 weeks, and one hour of individual face-to-face supervision per week in addition to 1.5 hours of on-campus group supervision over the course of the two semesters.
  • PSYC 591 - Advanced Internship
    • Is a 15-week, 1-semester course. Advanced Internship students complete a minimum of 300 hours of clinical work during the semester, including a minimum of 120 hours of face-to-face client service. Advanced Internship requires working approximately 20 hours per week at the agency. One and a half hours of on-campus group supervision and one hour of individual face-to-face supervision are also required each week.

Admissions Requirements

  • Hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale
  • Have taken between 9-12 hours of undergraduate coursework in psychology (may be augmented by coursework in closely related fields and/or reflect life experience)
  • Must have commitment to counseling profession
  • Quality written/oral communication skills are highly desired.

Steps to Apply

  • Completed application form (plus $20 fee if submitting the paper application)
  • Official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended
    • Must be sent directly from Registrar of institution(s) attended
  • Submit a DD214 form (United States veterans only).
  • Submit a concise, typed, two-page statement of your professional goals, including why you wish to become a licensed counselor. You could also include specific training objectives and long-term career goals following graduation. Submit to gradschool@sf.edu.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation, preferably at least one professional and one academic reference. Must be submitted using our department form.
  • After the Office of Admissions has received the above-listed materials, you will be required to interview with the Psychology and Counseling Admissions Committee.

Contact Us

If you have questions about getting started in our Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, please let us know. You are welcome to contact the Psychology program director or your personal graduate counselor.