Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
2021-2022 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook
Saybrook University
  Mar 03, 2024
2021-2022 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
Catalog Navigation
2021-2022 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

MA Counseling, Specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Return to College of Social Sciences Return to: College of Social Sciences

Saybrook University’s MA Counseling is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP accreditation assures that the content and quality of our program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession. The program is accredited through October, 2026.

Mental health counseling is a helping profession with national standards required for education, training, and clinical practice. Graduate education and clinical training prepares counselors to provide a full range of services for individuals, couples, families, adolescents, and children. Our mental health program prepares counselors to practice in a variety of settings such as independent practice, community agencies, integrated delivery systems, hospitals, and addictions treatment settings. Mental health counselors are uniquely skilled professionals who provide a full range of services. Our MA Counseling program offers a career-focused, clinical program with practicum training which is intended to empower them to shape and craft their own professional development and practice orientation. The program focuses on career opportunities while remaining true to core humanistic principles and helping others.

Saybrook tracks the employment of graduates in and out of the counseling profession, which is defined by the US Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification codes 19-3031 (Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists) and 25-1066 (Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary).

Saybrook’s counseling program is specifically focused on the knowledge, experience, and practical skills students will need to enter professional practice. Graduates from counseling program may be eligible for professional licensure as a Professional Counselor, or equivalent, depending on the state.  

Accomplished counseling faculty members are active in both academia and professional practice, with specializations in family systems, couples and family counseling, child and adolescent counseling, leadership development, transformative approaches to therapy, health and wellness, mindfulness, multi-cultural counseling, ethics, mental health advocacy and humanistic-integrative approaches to counseling. Faculty offer extensive experience as innovative providers in mental health care and are poised to support clinicians-in-training. They assist students in navigating the world of professional development and licensing, while remaining true to a holistic approach to counseling. Students and alumni affect lives and systems through clinical practice and scholarship in diverse settings. They are instrumental leaders in working with those who are seeking to deepen the purpose and meaning of their lives.

Mission, Core Values, Dispositions & Program Learning Outcomes 

Department Mission Statement: Counseling faculty are committed to preparing competent mental health professionals who inspire transformational change in individuals, families and communities toward a just, humane and sustainable world. 

Department Core Values & Dispositions: The Counseling Department has adopted a set of professional and personal qualities to be demonstrated by all students and faculty.  These qualities are directly linked to the mission and core values of Saybrook University. HUMANITI is a representation of our core values. All members of the counseling community are expected to embody these qualities inside and outside courses to the greatest extent possible. The qualities include: 

  • Holistic: We approach what we do from a holistic and systemic perspective based on a belief in the inherent interconnectedness of all things. 
  • Unconditional Positive Regard: We create relationships and communities built on compassion, respect, authentic voice, deep listening, reflective awareness, support and challenge leading to responsible presence and action. 
  • Multiple Perspectives: We seek to honor difference because we recognize that there are many ways of knowing and there are inherent strengths in diverse perspectives. 
  • Academic Rigor: We are committed to rigor in our academic and clinical experiences, with the desire to best serve others.  
  • New Possibilities: We are creative, imaginative and courageous leaders who challenge assumptions and imagine and embody new possibilities.  
  • Integrity: We live and conduct our work and relationships with integrity.  
  • Transformation: We are scholar-practitioners who seek and apply knowledge to solve problems and foster personal, relational and social transformation. 
  • Inclusive: We value life and embrace our responsibility to support the potential of those we serve to thrive in a just, inclusive, healthy and sustainable world. 

Program Learning Outcomes: The program learning outcomes were directly born out of the department core values.  Upon completion of either of the two counseling programs, students can expect to have gained expertise of the following:

Program Learning Outcome #1: Upon completing the program, students will demonstrate an ability to assess, integrate and respond to individual and relational dynamics within a systemic framework.

Program Learning Outcome #2: Upon completing the program, students will be able to discern the elements of an effective therapeutic alliance and demonstrate the ability to co-construct and maintain a counseling relationship

Program Learning Outcome #3: Upon completing the program, students will be able to examine and demonstrate an understanding of diverse experiences and the role of privilege, marginalization, and how aspects of power impact individual, familial, group and community experiences.  

Program Learning Outcome #4: Upon completing the program, students will have demonstrated the ability to critique and synthesize theory as they integrate this knowledge into their counseling practice. 

Program Learning Outcome #5: Upon completing the program, students will illustrate their role in advocating for individual and social change by utilizing effective communication skills across dialogues with peers, clients, supervisors and faculty. 

Program Learning Outcome #6: Upon completing the program, students will be able to apply relevant professional ethical codes to guide their work and ethical decision making.

Program Learning Outcome #7: Upon completing the program, students will use professional literature, research and best practices to support individual, familial, group and community change.

Program Learning Outcome #8: Upon completing the program, students will be able to describe the relationship between their “self” as a therapist, their professional identity as a counselor, and their responsibility to serve clients and the community.

Career Opportunities

Licensed practitioners in Clinical Mental Health Counseling have many career opportunities. In addition to independent practice, our graduates work in nonprofit service centers, substance recovery centers, community mental health centers, schools, university campuses, domestic violence centers, hospice outreach, adoption and foster transitional care, and others.  Examples of recent employers include:

  • community health centers
  • family service agencies
  • school districts
  • university counseling centers
  • hospitals, medical, residential and ambulatory care
  • prisons
  • family support agencies
  • juvenile justice and child protective services
  • substance abuse clinics and recovery treatment centers
  • non-profit organizations
  • group and independent practice association

Online Learning Model: The MA Counseling degree program combines online learning with in-person residential conferences, experiential intensives, workshops and classes to support students in working toward the MA Counseling degree.

Residential Orientation : All new students in the MA Counseling program begin their studies with a one-time, virtual  Orientation. The Orientations will be a combination of Canvas orientation, and a one-time virtual meeting ahead of the academic term start date.

Residential Conferences: All students participate in two five-day long required residential conferences per year (one at the beginning of the Fall semester and one at the beginning of the Spring semester) for the duration of the program. Activities during the required residential conferences are designed to expand further on the knowledge from coursework, to practice clinical skills, and to participate in professional development through lectures, workshops, invited talks, roundtables, courses, and seminars as well as formal and informal meetings and discussions with faculty, advisors, and peers. Although students complete most of their courses through distance learning, full attendance at all residential conferences is an academic requirement, and their completion is important for successful academic progress as well as allowing students to meet with faculty and co-learners in a stimulating face-to-face environment.

Online Instruction: Online courses utilize a combination of learning goals, objectives, strategies, and delivery formats, including assigned readings, papers, and projects as well as asynchronous online discussions and at times synchronous teleconferences and/or videoconference sessions with faculty and peers.

Student Mentoring: Faculty and peer mentoring is a distinguishing feature of the program. Upon admission, students are assigned a faculty advisor and peer mentor to support both the transition into graduate school and success throughout the program.

Professional Licensure: In order to become licensed as a professional counselor, professional clinical counselor, or mental health counselor candidates must complete the degree, program, and/or coursework required by their chosen state. States also have licensing requirements beyond a program’s graduation requirements including: post-master’s supervised clinical experience, examination(s), background check, and application for license.   

For information on where Saybrook University meets, does not meet, or has not determined if the program meets licensure eligibility requirements for the  state in which you wish to be licensed, please visit:

The MA Counseling hybrid online program is aligned with the degree and coursework requirements of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for registration and examination eligibility as a Professional Clinical Counselor (Business and Professions Code section 4999.33) Candidates for licensure must pass the relevant clinical examination and law and ethics examination. Additional post-master’s supervised experience is required and candidates must register with BBS as an APCC in order to accrue supervised experience. All candidates are also required to complete the application process, which includes fees and a background check. For further information about licensure in California, please visit the Board of Behavioral Sciences.

During the first semester, all Counseling students complete a curriculum map to licensure to assure that they complete the coursework requirements for their state. State professional licensing requirements are subject to change at any time. Students should contact the specific state licensing board directly to verify information regarding professional licensure. A list of state board contact information is available via The American Counseling Association.


Admission Requirements

Applicants for the MA Counseling must submit the following documents:

  • Application for Admissions
  • An official transcript from an accredited university demonstrating successful completion of a bachelor’s degree, with a 3.0 GPA or better;
  • Professional resume or CV;
  • Personal statement; and
  • One Letter of recommendation *

*Letter of recommendation should be a professional reference

Program Requirements

60 Semester Credits Required

The three-year program provides a low-residency, blended and mixed model of distance learning, where students join a cohort of fellow students studying together online and meeting together with faculty at the beginning of each semester for residential conferences. Students can complete their degree without relocating and without leaving their current career. Students can choose either a Fall semester or Spring semester start date.  Students who follow the full-time program plan can finish their degree in three years, this plan includes summer course work.

A portion of the 60 credit program includes three semesters of field work referred to as Practicum, Internship I and Internship II. Students locate appropriate practicum and internships and supervision in their geographic area, working in conjunction with Saybrook’s faculty and the Director of Clinical Training. Faculty support and supervise year-round practicum and internship training so that students can accrue clinical training hours at their field experience sites during summer and semester inter-sessions.

Transfer Credit

MA Counseling students can transfer up to 9 approved semester credits from an accredited academic institution. To transfer hours earned at another institution to the MA Counseling Program, the student must provide an official transcript from the institution where the credits were earned. The student must also provide evidence that the course was approved for graduate credit at the institution where the course was completed. To determine course equivalency, students will need to submit the official transcript, course title, course description and (when required) the course syllabus. No more than 9 semester hours that have been transferred from another accredited institution may be used for meeting the credit hour requirements of a master’s student’s program. The Program Director and appropriate program faculty will review each course transfer request on an individual basis. Clinical courses such as practicum and internship are not eligible for transfer review.

The MA Counseling program is designed to address the CACREP core areas, and one specialization area. To this end, the curriculum includes the following competency areas:   

  1. Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
  2. Social and Cultural Diversity
  3. Human Growth and Development
  4. Career Development
  5. Counseling and Helping Relationships
  6. Group Counseling and Group Work
  7. Assessment and Testing
  8. Research and Program Development
  9. Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Specialization

All students will be required to complete a comprehensive exam in the last semester of their program. The exam is in essay format, and prompts and guidance are provided by program faculty through the process.

Residential Conference Workshops & Special Population Intensives

The following required workshops, intensives and experientials are completed at the residential conferences. These workshops are designed to ensure that students in the state of California meet all of the requirements for the LPCC. In addition to meeting the CA requirements, we have found that all of our students benefit from the depth of conversation in these critical areas. Except where noted, these workshops are required for students that plan to pursue a license in CA, and will be optional for all other students. The workshops are:

Residential Conference Experiential Training

The experiential training courses are offered as required companion courses to the online course of the same name. These two day experientials allow students to practice their skills, engage in group work, and discuss these topics in depth and in person. The experientials are:

  • Experiential: Crisis & Trauma Intervention
  • Experiential: Basic Counseling Skills
  • Experiential: Relationship & Family Intervention
  • Experiential: Group Counseling & Psychotherapy
  • Experiential: Child & Adolescent Counseling
  • Experiential: Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice

Residential ProSeminar Training

The ProSeminar courses take place for the last two days of the residential conferences. Each ProSeminar is designed to build on the student’s developmental level, and they are also used for Practicum and Internship supervision. Students will shift between activities over the ProSeminar days of the RC, based on developmental level, program sequence, and interest. The ProSeminar days are designed for case consultation, experiential program work- related to client cases, and advanced practice.

  • Pre-Practicum Pro-Seminar - This residential conference course introduces and follows the student through pre-degree Practicum search and preparatory coursework. The course addresses issues in practicum placement with emphasis in professional development. Emphasis is placed on the individual student’s clarification of licensing requirements and formulation of degree course plan. This course emphasizes acculturation of the student into the clinical mental health profession. 15 Contact Hours per semester
  • Practicum/Internship Pro-Seminar - This residential conference course introduces and follows the student/trainee through pre-degree Practicum/internship training. The course addresses issues in practicum and internship training with emphasis in professional development. This course emphasizes acculturation of the student into the clinical profession of clinical mental health counseling. Students enroll in this course in multiple semesters. The course is required each semester the student/trainee is enrolled in Practicum or Internship courses. 15 Contact Hours per semester

Return to College of Social Sciences Return to: College of Social Sciences