Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling

credits 60 | cost/credit $590 | completion 2 years (6 semesters) | Format online | next start May 15, 2023

Earn your Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online

Prepare for a rewarding career providing compassionate and competent counseling services in clinical mental health settings such as mental health agencies, group practices, residential treatment centers, hospitals, university counseling centers or private practice. With 100% online coursework and experiential learning, gain the necessary knowledge and skills to use your calling as an exceptional licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) who improves the lives and mental health of individuals through holistic wellness. You will be equipped to empower others to make positive changes in their lives. 
 

Faith-integrated mental health counseling program

In Northwestern College's online M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, you will be part of a Christ-centered community dedicated to the development of outstanding counselors who are called to serve both Christ and society in diverse settings. Students integrate a biblical perspective with culturally sensitive and ethical clinical skills so they can courageously and faithfully provide compassionate care in pursuing God’s work of restoration and healing in the world.

Through NWC's M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling you will be equipped to:

  • Apply ethical and legal considerations, behavior, and judgments in counseling situations
  • Display multicultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Demonstrate an ability to articulate a biblical world view and be able to articulate how your most important spiritual and religious values impact your counseling practice
  • Display the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to serve and influence your communities, workplaces, and families

100% online coursework. 8-week courses. Synchronous and asynchronous learning. 

Through online, 8-week classes, students log into their courses to complete assignments each week on their own schedule. Some courses include synchronous live classes, Zoom meetings with instructors or project meeting opportunities with classmates. Practicum and internship experiences enrich learning and skill-building through offering services to actual clients in approved and supervised settings near where the student lives. 

The master's in clinical mental health program is designed for working professionals to complete the program in two years (6 semesters) by typically taking two courses at a time.


Professional preparation

Northwestern's Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health is designed to prepare students to be outstanding counselors in the practice settings of their choice and is aligned with the standards and competencies of the  Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program plans to apply for CACREP accreditation as soon as the application is allowed (once the program has produced its first graduates). After successful completion of the counseling program, students will be prepared to pursue licensure as a professional counselor in their state and take the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE).


Application requirements

Next cohort begins May 15, 2023 

All applicants must submit:

  • Official transcripts showing a  baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum undergraduate cumulative  GPA of 3.0
  • Completed application with short essay responses
  • Applicant writing sample:  Download question prompt
  • Updated  résumé
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation 
  • Background check through Castlebranch 

For more details see  how to apply.
Following a review of all completed application materials, applicants will be invited to a Zoom interview with a faculty member.
No GRE is required. No Application fee.


 
  1. Demonstrate preparedness to enter the counseling field as clinical mental health counselors.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to apply ethical and legal considerations, behavior, and judgments in counseling situations.
  3. Recognize the impact of heritage, attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and acculturative experiences on an individual’s view of others.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of biological, neurological, and physiological factors that affect human development, functioning, and behavior.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to conceptualize the interrelationships among and between work, mental well-being, relationships, and other life roles and factors.
  6. Demonstrate the essential interviewing, counseling, and case conceptualization skills necessary to be competent and ethical clinical mental health counselors.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics and functions of effective group leaders.
  8. Demonstrate knowledge of, and an ability to use assessments relevant to academic/educational, career, personal, and social development.
  9. Demonstrate knowledge of evaluation procedures for counseling interventions and programs.
  10. Demonstrate competence in utilizing an intake interview, mental status evaluation, biopsychosocial history, mental health history, and psychological assessment for treatment planning and caseload management as appropriate.
  11. Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to serve and influence their communities, workplaces, and families.
  12. Demonstrate multicultural self-awareness and clinical competence.
  13. Demonstrate an ability to articulate a biblical worldview, and identify how their self-identified most important spiritual and religious values and beliefs impact their counseling practice.
  14. The program will demonstrate it effectively meets the needs of its key stakeholders.

Program Requirements

The 60 credit clinical mental health counseling program includes valuable hands-on learning in the practicum and internship courses. Students will apply theory and develop as clinical counselors by providing services to actual clients. They will also develop the skills and knowledge related to their counseling setting such as timeliness, documentation and site policies and procedures. 

  • The practicum experience requires completion of a minimum of 100 hours of which 40 hours must be direct client services. 
  • The Internship experience is a 600-hour experience of which 240 hours must be direct services to clients. 

Courses

Year one:
COUN 505 - Professional Orientation
This course introduces students to the field of counseling in diverse settings, including school and clinical mental health settings. The course provides a broad overview and survey of the counseling profession, including its historical and theoretical foundations, the major professional associations of the counseling profession, and roles and responsibilities of counselors in a variety of settings and within and among the other mental health professions. Students will begin development of a professional identity and will reflect on their calling to the profession of counseling and their vision for using their master's degree in the future. Students will begin the process of spiritual formation for counseling. (3 credits)
COUN 515 - Ethics
This course introduces students to legal and ethical issues relevant to the counseling profession and equips students with an ethical decision-making model for navigating ethical dilemmas and issues related to professional practice. Students will develop ethical sensitivity and utilize the ethical principles, which serve as the profession's foundation for ethical behavior and decision making, in evaluating case studies. An overview of the Iowa statutes which govern practice will also be provided. The goal of this course is to get students to think about major issues related to the professional practice of counseling, while challenging them to formulate positions on such issues, consider a biblical perspective, and appraise the values impacting counselors and the counseling profession. (3 credits)
COUN 520 - Social & Cultural Foundations
In this course, students will examine the psychological and sociological factors that form self-concept and cultural identity, and consider how these constructs impact effective counseling with diverse populations. Students will begin a professional journey of developing multicultural competence through developing self-awareness, sensitivity to elements of diversity, knowledge of cultural values, and a commitment to the counseling profession's core value of honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. Students will learn how to apply awareness and culturally competent skills and knowledge in interventions and advocacy practices with diverse populations. Course concepts will be considered through a biblical world view which provides a foundation for understanding how God views all people groups. Prerequisite: COUN505. (3 credits)
COUN 525 - Human Growth & Development
One of the philosophies underlying the counseling profession that helps set it apart from the other mental health professions is a developmental perspective; a recognition that many of the issues clients face in life are developmental in nature. This course introduces students to theories of individual and family development across the lifespan, theories of learning, theories of moral and spiritual development, and theories of normal and abnormal personality development. The course also delves into factors and circumstances that can impact a person's development; biological, neurological, and physiological factors, addictive behaviors, systemic and environmental factors, crises, disasters, and trauma, and culture. Students will develop a general framework for developing interventions based on client developmental level and ethical and culturally relevant strategies for promoting resilience and wellness across the lifespan. (3 credits)
COUN 550 - Theories & Skills of Counseling I
This course is part one of a two-part integrated skills and theories series that introduces students to the basic skills of the counseling relationship and the major theories of personality and psychotherapy, and provides students an experiential opportunity to begin practicing and assimilating these skills in their counselor identity. In Theories and Skills of Counseling I, students are introduced to counseling skills such as attending, active listening, empathy, questioning, observation, encouraging, summarizing, reflecting, and challenging. Skills are practiced with role play partners, video recorded and submitted to the professor for review and feedback. Theories covered in Theories and Skills of Counseling I include Psychodynamic, Adlerian, Client-Centered, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy. Modern psychotherapies are considered through a biblical world view. Prerequisite: COUN515. (3 credits)
COUN 510 - Assessment & Appraisal
This course introduces students to the field of counseling in diverse settings, including school and clinical mental health settings. The course provides a broad overview and survey of the counseling profession, including its historical and theoretical foundations, the major professional associations of the counseling profession, and roles and responsibilities of counselors in a variety of settings and within and among the other mental health professions. Students will begin development of a professional identity and will reflect on their calling to the profession of counseling and their vision for using their master's degree in the future. Students will begin the process of spiritual formation for counseling. (3 credits)
COUN 551 - Theories & Skills of Counseling II
No course description available.
CMHC 515 - Marriage & Family
No course description available.
CMHC 520 - Diagnosis & Psychopathology
No course description available.
COUN 555 - Crisis, Trauma, & Suicide
No course description available.
COUN 605 - Skills II
No course description available.
Year two:
CMHC 610 - Practicum
The counseling Practicum experience provides students with an initial experience in providing counseling services in the clinical mental health counseling setting. The Practicum experience requires a minimum of 100 clock hours of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by your assigned faculty member). The Practicum course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Practicum experience and which supports students in developing their basic counseling skills and in learning a variety of assessment and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525, COUN550, COUN551, COUN555 and COUN605. (3 credits)
COUN 530 - Group Counseling & Group Work
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of group counseling, its development within the field of counseling, and its utilization as an intervention in school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and other settings. Group work requires some distinct understandings and approaches from individual counseling and as such, this course focuses on the stages of group formation, group therapeutic factors, group facilitation skills, dealing with challenges particular to group settings, and utilizing the group modality effectively. Students will be given the opportunity to participate in a group process, both as participants and as leaders. Because of this component, there will be a synchronous component to this course, where students will have to coordinate a day/time where they can consistently meet with their group to meet this requirement of the course. Prerequisites: COUN515, COUN550, COUN551, COUN605. (3 credits)
CMHC 575 - Psychopharmacology & Neuroscience
No course description available.
CMHC 615 - Internship I
The Counseling Internship experience provides students with experience in providing counseling services in the clinical mental health counseling setting. The Internship experience requires a minimum of 600 clock hours spread over at least two semesters of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by an assigned faculty member). The Internship course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Internship experience and which supports students in developing their counseling skills and in learning a variety of counseling and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. In this course, students will increase competency in their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Students' caseloads and responsibilities will increase and they will continue to fine tune their theoretical orientations, increase awareness of their counseling styles, and develop their counseling identities. Students will also continue to develop their written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and peer feedback skills. Prerequisites: COUN505, COUN515, COUN520, COUN525, COUN550, COUN551, COUN555, COUN605 and COUN610. (3 credits)
COUN 580 - Career Development
No course description available.
COUN 585 - Research & Program Evaluation
No course description available.
CMHC 620 - Internship II
The Counseling Internship experience provides students with experience in providing counseling services in the clinical mental health counseling setting. The Internship experience requires a minimum of 600 clock hours spread over at least two semesters of documented contact including indirect and direct service, and supervision both onsite (provided by a designated site supervisor) and in class (provided by an assigned faculty member). The Internship course is a seminar-style class which supports students participating in their Internship experience and which supports students in developing their counseling skills and in learning a variety of counseling and intervention techniques. Students are required to earn a minimum grade of a B in this course in order to move forward in the program. This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings. The day/times of the meetings will be determined by the course instructor. In this course, students will continue to hone their clinical skills, case conceptualization abilities, and ability to apply what they have learned in the program to the work they do with clients. Students will continue develop their theoretical orientations, increase awareness of their counseling styles, and develop their counseling identities. Students will also continue to develop their written and verbal communication and presentation skills, and peer feedback skills. Prerequisites: CMHC610 and CMHC615. (3 credits)
COUN 635 - Capstone
No course description available.
Choose one elective:
CMHC 570 - Foundations of Addictions Counseling
This course introduces students to the field of treating substance use disorders. As such, it provides an overview of the major theories, issues, and modalities for treating addictive disorders and the major drugs of abuse. Students will explore the impact of addiction on clients' lives, and consider a holistic approach to recovery which includes biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual dimensions. Students will explore spiritual treatment approaches including the 12-step approach originating with Alcoholics Anonymous, and mindfulness meditation, and reflect on how spiritual approaches could support students' understanding of and treatment of addictive disorders in practice. Prerequisites: CMHC520 or SCO520. (3 credits)
CMHC 540 - Advanced Group Counseling
This course requires online students to attend weekly synchronous class meetings and the class will be conducted in the format of a synchronous online counseling group with rotating leadership. The course is designed for students who anticipate utilizing group counseling and group interventions as a significant component of their clinical or school practice. The course builds on the information learned and experiences gained in COUN 530 â?? Group Counseling & Group Work to help students develop more advanced group counseling skills and strategies. Utilizing the last edition of Yalomâ??s seminal textbook on group psychotherapy, the course provides students additional opportunities to practice group counseling interventions and to hone their group leadership skills. Students will grow in their ability to recognize and utilize the group therapeutic factors, work in the here-and-now, work with a co-therapist, deal with problematic group members, and navigate a group through the common developmental stages. (3 credits) Prerequisite: COUN530
CMHC 545 - Attachment Theory in Practice
This course explores Attachment Theory in depth, from its origins in the research of John Bowlby, through the Infant Strange Situation research of Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main, to introducing students to the Adult Attachment Interview developed by George, Kaplan, and Main. Students consider how Attachment Theory can impact both child and adult relationships and how attachment may be implicated in various diagnoses found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5). The course explores treatments for attachment-related symptoms and behaviors with a focus on Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), a mindfulness-based approach, and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), which integrates Attachment Theory with systemic and humanistic approaches. (3 credits) Prerequisites: CMHC520 OR SCO520

Total Credits: 60 credit hours

Take the next step!

Contact us  Request information  Apply now

loading
LOADING …