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    Saybrook University
  Apr 25, 2024
2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum 
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2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum

M.A. Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialization

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Overview of Program

Saybrook University's M.A. 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 M.A. 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. 

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:  

  1. Upon completing the program, students will demonstrate an ability to assess, integrate and respond to individual and relational dynamics within a systemic framework. 
  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 
  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.   
  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.  
  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.  
  6. Upon completing the program, students will be able to apply relevant professional ethical codes to guide their work and ethical decision making. 
  7. Upon completing the program, students will use professional literature, research and best practices to support individual, familial, group and community change. 
  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 

Program Requirements

Admissions Requirements

Applicants for the M.A. 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 

University Learning Experience

Residential Learning Experience (RLE) - Required, Community Learning Experience (CLE) - Required (substitutes for RLE in odd falls)

All new students begin their studies with a Welcome Week. Welcome Week activities, including a degree program orientation, are held online during the week ahead of the start of the fall and spring semesters. Participation is strongly encouraged.

Residential Learning Experience: All M.A. Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialization students participate in two four-day long required Residential Learning Experiences (RLEs) 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 RLEs 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 RLEs 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.


A portion of the 60 credit program includes three semesters of clinical coursework 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.


Residential Conference Workshops & Special Population Intensives

The following required workshops, intensives and experientials are completed at the residential learning experiences. 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: 

COUN 2538 Aging and Long-Term Care  

COUN 2539 Child and Elder Abuse Assessment and Reporting  

COUN 2544 Mental Health Recovery  

COUN 2640 Partner Abuse and Domestic Violence  
Residential Conference Experiential Training
The experiential training courses are offered as required companion courses to the online course of the same name. These experientials allow students to practice their skills, engage in group work, and discuss these topics in depth and in person. Each semester, students participate in two experiential training courses.

Some examples include: Basic Counseling Skills, Group, Crisis and Trauma, etc.  
Residential ProSeminar Training 

Each ProSeminar workshop is designed to add additional topic areas to the overall curriculum. The on-site proseminar workshops shift each semester, based on the current trends in the field, student topic interest, and areas of research of the faculty. Students engage in 6 hours of proseminar workshop training at each RLE. 

Program Specific Requirements

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 M.A. 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. 
Transfer Credit 
M.A. Counseling students can transfer up to 9 approved semester credits from an accredited academic institution. To transfer hours earned at another institution to the M.A. 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 Chair 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 M.A. Counseling program is designed to address the CACREP core areas, and one specialization area. To this end, the curriculum includes the following competency 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 Development 
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling - Specialization


​​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.​ 

Mode of Delivery

​​The M.A. Counseling degree program combines online learning with in-person residential conferences, experiential intensives, workshops and classes to support students in working toward the M.A. Counseling degree. 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 course sessions with faculty and peers.​ 

Length of Program

The three-year, 60 semester credit, Students who follow the full-time program plan can finish their degree in three years, this plan includes summer course work.

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