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Make a Positive Impact With a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Do you want to empower others to overcome difficult emotional challenges? Take the next step with Walden's CACREP-accredited MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

As one of the largest programs of its kind in the U.S.,1 our master’s in clinical mental health counseling program is designed to help you become the competent, compassionate counselor you were meant to be. Practice your skills in virtual simulations and hands-on field experiences as you engage with a diverse community of faculty and peers. Graduate from your program feeling confident, inspired, and ready to help your clients lead happier, more productive lives.

An MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program academically prepares students to seek state licensure or certification as a professional mental health counselor.

Why Choose Walden?

Get Support at Every Step

From the start of your program, you’ll get personalized guidance and inspiration from faculty who want to see you succeed.

Master Essential Skills

Build your confidence through cutting-edge simulation technologies and other opportunities to practice and refine your skills.

Join a Diverse Community

Engage with faculty and peers and participate in coursework designed to help you work with people from different backgrounds.

Personalize Your Path

Choose our General Program or one of five specializations to tailor your coursework to the career you want.

Program Savings

Receive up to a $3,000 Grant and tech fee waived for your first term, if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on December 13, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

Program Details

Curriculum - General Program Specialization

Completion Requirements

This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. Time to completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.

Courses

Course Code Title Credits
COUN 6101

Foundations for Graduate Study in Counseling

Students in this course are introduced  to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. They are provided with a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. Topics include the relation of mission and vision to professional goals; development of the Professional Development Plan; strategies for online success; introduction to the online library; and introduction to critical thinking, professional writing, and academic integrity. The focus of course assignments is on the practical application of writing and critical-thinking skills and the promotion of professional and academic excellence as they relate to practice in counseling.

(1 cr.)
COUN 6100

Introduction to Mental Health Counseling

Students are introduced to the mental health counseling profession in this course. Students explore the history, philosophy, and theoretical foundations of the profession, as well as the scope of practice, credentialing, and other professional issues. The focus of this course is on students as future mental health counselors. Students receive an overview of the mental health counseling program, the profession, and professional competencies.

(5 cr.)
COUN 6722

Theories of Counseling

This course introduces theories of counseling and psychotherapy to prepare students to conceptualize problems and respond with appropriate, evidence-based interventions and techniques. Students will become familiar with the origin, key concepts, and interventions and techniques of each of the theories presented. Students will develop an awareness of how counseling theories drive the treatment process and apply theories to diverse case studies. A major focus of this course is to support students as they develop their personal theoretical orientation.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6101
  • COUN 6100

(5 cr.)
COUN 6316

Techniques in Counseling

Personal attitudes, values, and beliefs often affect a counselor's ability to establish an appropriate relationship and rapport with clients. In this course, students learn to evaluate their personal attitudes and beliefs to positively influence their counseling approaches. They explore principles and skills related to interviewing and observation, and they examine related legal, ethical, and cultural issues. Students gain practice in conducting interviews, making behavioral observations, collecting and interpreting data during an interview, and developing written reports of findings. Synthesizing concepts, skills, and personal reflections, students demonstrate their ability to engage in a counseling session using techniques learned throughout the course.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6722

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6111

Note: Students are required to have access to a video recording device, a tripod, and an audio recording device, which they will begin using the first week of class.

(5 cr.)
CPLB 601L

Pre-Practicum 1

By participating in a Walden Pre-Practicum, students gain skills in their development as scholar-practitioners. Through Pre-Practicum experiences, students expand their network of peers and faculty members while they develop their professional skills and identity. In Pre-Practicum 1, students begin to apply the core skills and techniques introduced in the Techniques course. Students also continue to develop the multicultural competencies needed for counseling. Per program requirements, there is a synchronous experience. Students will receive specific information about their upcoming field experience and credentialing.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6316

(0 cr.)
COUN 6306

Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling

Students in this course are provided with an introduction to the field of professional counseling and the foundations of counseling. Students explore the history, philosophy, cultural dynamics, and trends in professional counseling. They examine consultation as well as client and counselor advocacy, focusing on the counselor's role as social change agent. Students also examine and apply ethical standards of the counseling profession, including the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics and counselor ethical decision-making processes. Through a final reflective project designed to influence their future ethical framework, students define their ethical perspectives, including influences, values, and goals.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6722

(5 cr.)
COUN 6723

Multicultural Counseling

Students in this course have the opportunity to increase their awareness, knowledge, skills, and advocacy related to working with clients from a multicultural perspective. Students foster self-understanding of their own cultural-identity development, biases, stereotypes, values, and strengths while gaining self-awareness of the effects of power, privilege, and marginalization within the counseling relationship. Further, students can gain knowledge of various issues within diversity. Students explore various theories of multicultural counseling and the role of social justice and advocacy in counseling.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6722

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6316

(5 cr.)
COUN 6360

Assessment in Counseling and Education

Assessments are important tools that counselors use to gain information about clients and to aid practice. Therefore, counselors must know what assessment tools are available; have the ability to read, interpret, and analyze results of tests; and keep abreast of changing trends in working with assessments as well as new assessment tools and changes in technology. Students in this course are provided with an overview of assessments used in counseling and education as well as the responsibilities of counselors using assessments. Students learn about the different types of tests used in clinical, educational, and organizational settings, and they examine the psychometric properties used to develop and evaluate these instruments. They also explore normative sampling and standardization, reliability and validity, test score interpretation, and test development. Additionally, students assess and discuss ethical, legal, and sociocultural issues, including cultural bias and fairness. A foundation for the course is professional standards for testing.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6316
  • COUN 6306

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6316
  • COUN 6306
  • COUN 6723

(5 cr.)
COUN 6215

Lifespan Development

In this course, students are provided with an overview of development through the lifespan, including childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging experiences. Physical, social, emotional, and cognitive issues are covered, as well as the expected developmental milestones during each of these phases of development. The latest research in attachment theory, brain research, and aging is included, and themes of diversity issues related to developmental research are highlighted throughout the course.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6316
  • COUN 6306
  • COUN 6723

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6311
  • COUN 6360

(5 cr.)
COUN 6720

Diagnosis and Assessment

Students are provided with an overview of what is commonly referred to as abnormal psychology; however, students also consider factors constituting normalcy from multiple perspectives. Students explore the application of diagnostic criteria in various mental health work settings, such as schools, rehabilitation facilities, community agencies, and private practices. Using the scholar-practitioner model, students consider environmental and biological factors contributing to behavioral disorders. Students also examine techniques commonly used for the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive, emotional, and developmental disorders as well as for psychophysiological and psychosocial problems. Though coursework and discussions, students consider multicultural factors that complicate diagnosis as well as current trends and contemporary issues in clinical assessment and diagnosis.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6723
  • COUN 6360
  • CPLB 601L

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6311
  • COUN 6360

(5 cr.)
COUN 6250

Group Process and Dynamics

Group work is an effective counseling method that allows group members to share perspectives and provide useful feedback and information in a structured setting. Using relevant literature, multimedia resources, and a scholar-practitioner model, students examine stages of group process; group dynamics; and ethical, legal, and training standards. Students examine the types of counseling groups as well as the unique leadership skills required for each type of group. Students are provided with a comprehensive review of theoretical approaches applicable to group counseling. Students engage in a variety of practical application assignments and discussions, focusing on the efficacy of using group counseling with multicultural and diverse populations. Students will develop an evidence-based mental health group proposal appropriate for potential implementation in field experience. Students engage in a process of self-reflection to increase self-awareness for enhanced group leadership knowledge and skills.Group lab is a separate 0-credit, required course that occurs simultaneously with the Group Process and Dynamics course. Students need to ensure that they are enrolled and participating in both courses.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6215
  • CPLB 601L

(5 cr.)
GRPL 6100

Group Lab

This is an experiential lab in which students learn by doing (i.e., participate in a small group activity). This lab is provided to students as part of their program requirements set forth by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). To maintain CACREP accreditation, all students must participate in a minimum of 10 hours of small group activity over the course of one academic term (CACREP, 2016, 2.F.6.h.).

(0 cr.)
CPLB 602L

Pre-Practicum 2

In Pre-Practicum 2, students continue to develop core skills from Pre-Practicum 1 and integrate advanced skills in their development as scholar-practitioners. Through their Pre-Practicum experiences, students expand their network of peers and faculty members while they continue to develop professional skills and identity. In Pre-Practicum 2, students begin to develop group leadership skills, integrate counseling theory, and continue to demonstrate cultural competency skills. Students will engage in developing their upcoming field experience plan and continue credentialing skills activities.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6250

(0 cr.)
COUN 6626

Research Methodology and Program Evaluation

Students in this course are introduced to evaluating professional counseling research and provided with a foundation in program evaluation. Analysis of counseling literature is used to demonstrate the importance of research in advancing the counseling profession, including how to critique research to inform counseling practice. Students learn to distinguish between quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods designs, the strengths and limitations of each method, and under what circumstances each design would be most appropriate. Additionally, students consider the ethical and cultural issues associated with research involving human subjects. Through evaluating professional literature, students will gain an understanding of designs used in research and program evaluation and the use of data in counseling. Additionally, students explore the ethical underpinnings of program evaluation, approaches to evaluation, and techniques used to perform the assessment of program effectiveness. Students examine the procedures involved in evaluating the needs of a specific group or organization and gain hands-on experience conducting a search for professional counseling literature, developing an annotated bibliography, and identification of evidence-based counseling practices.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6215
  • COUN 6720
  • CPLB 601L

(5 cr.)
COUN 6726

Couples and Family Counseling

An important skill for clinicians to have is a fundamental understanding of the dynamics and functioning of couples and families. Students in this course are introduced to concepts and applications in theoretical perspectives and techniques, classical schools of thought, and recent developments in couples and family therapy. Students explore culture, gender, and ethnicity factors in family development. They also review and compare theoretical frameworks in couples and family therapy, including psychosocial, psychodynamic, transgenerational, strategic, cognitive-behavioral, and social constructionist models. Additionally, students assess the roles of culture, spirituality, and values in understanding families.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6215
  • COUN 6720
  • CPLB 601L

MS in School Counseling

  • COUN 6322
  • COUN 6320

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6215
  • COUN 6720
  • CPLB 601L

(5 cr.)
COUN 6753

Career Counseling

Students in this course are provided with the opportunity to develop practical skills in career and vocational assessment as well as functional knowledge of how career assessment can assist in the exploration and understanding of the interrelationship among work, family, and life roles. They examine major sources of career and work information available on the Internet as well as through printed material and computer-based guidance systems. Gaining practical career counseling experience, students administer, score, and interpret printed and computer-based assessments of career interests, beliefs, and values. Students learn how to integrate career development theory and assessment results with career clinical interventions. They also examine clinical and assessment issues, devoting attention to computer-based applications and multicultural implications.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6250
  • COUN 6626
  • CPLB 601L

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • COUN 6626
  • CPLB 601L
  • COUN 6726

(5 cr.)
COUN 6785

Social Change in Action: Prevention, Consultation, and Advocacy

In this course, students prepare for their roles as counselors and agents of social change in the areas of prevention, consultation, and community advocacy with diverse populations in different settings in order to bring about positive social change. At Walden University, positive social change is "a deliberate process of creating and applying ideas, strategies, and actions to promote the worth, dignity, and development of individuals, communities, organizations, institutions, cultures, and societies. Positive social change results in the improvement of human and social conditions" (Walden University, 2018). Prevention, consultation, and advocacy are tools and methods to help bring about positive social change in local communities and globally. Students examine relationships between prevention, consultation, and advocacy giving consideration to theoretical underpinnings, diversity, and ethics. Students also identify a mental health or public health need in their community, develop a prevention plan to address that need, engage in consultation with fellow students about the prevention plan, and explore advocacy related to the community need. Applying prevention, consultation, and advocacy in this course is all oriented toward promoting positive social change and becoming more effective agents of change.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6250
  • COUN 6626
  • CPLB 601L
  • COUN 6726

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • CPLB 601L
  • COUN 6726
  • COUN 6317

(5 cr.)
COUN 6730

Counseling Addictive Disorders

Students are provided with a foundation for counseling clients who have both substance-related and behavioral addictions. In this course, students examine historical perspectives and current trends in addiction treatment, as well as the biological and environmental influences on the etiology of addiction. Techniques and processes for assessment and diagnosis are examined in the context of individual, group, and systemic perspectives, with attention given to developmental and multicultural influences on addiction. Influences of public policy and advocacy on addiction and treatment are also examined.

Prerequisites

MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

  • COUN 6753
  • CPBL 602L

MS in School Counseling

  • COUN 6322
  • COUN 6320

MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

  • CPLB 601L
  • COUN 6317
  • COUN 6753

(5 cr.)
COUN 6743

Psychopharmacology

As client advocates, counselors rely on knowledge of psychotropic medications to inform treatment. This course introduces a spectrum of psychotropic medications used in the management of mental, behavioral, and addictive disorders. Students explore medication classification, drug interaction, and side effects. In addition, students distinguish between medical and psychopathological conditions that present in similar ways to addictive disorders. As part of a professional learning community, students collaborate with peers in written scholarly dialogue to explore psychopharmacological intervention in the treatment of addiction and other psychopathologies that may coexist. Students analyze factors that increase the likelihood for a person, community, or group to be at risk for disorders and examine the cultural and contextual factors considered in the ethical treatment of clients. Across counseling specializations, this course builds foundational clinical knowledge of the intersection of counseling and psychotropic medical treatment.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6753
  • COUN 6785
  • CPBL 602L

(5 cr.)
COUN 6336

Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Response

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the personal and systemic impact of crises, disasters, and other trauma-causing events on individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students examine theories and response models as they relate to sexual trauma, crisis in individuals and families, crisis in the community, and crisis in the nation and in the world. They explore and discuss topics related to counselor competencies, vicarious trauma and counter transference, specific diagnoses, and advocacy. Students also engage in assignments designed to provide practical application of crisis assessment. Through contemporary articles and case studies, they consider and discuss cultural, legal, and ethical issues related to crisis, trauma, and disaster events and response.

Prerequisites

  • COUN 6785
  • COUN 6730
  • CPBL 602L

(5 cr.)
COUN 6671

Counseling Practicum

The Counseling Practicum is an introduction to the capstone experience. During the practicum course, students begin to synthesize and apply the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions learned throughout their program of study. Students must secure a field experience site, apply with the Office of Field Experience within the published application window, and earn approval before being eligible for practicum enrollment. Once enrolled, students will spend a minimum average of 8–10 hours per week at the site that they have secured. They will complete direct counseling hours, weekly individual or triadic supervision with their site supervisor, administrative duties, and other activities as assigned by the site. Concurrently, students will participate in weekly case conceptualization activities, 2 hours of group supervision per week with their faculty supervisor, and other clinically relevant assignments directly related to the work at the site. There are multiple synchronous components in this course. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course.

Prerequisites

  • All core courses in the program of study
  • All residencies
  • Approval by the Office of Field Experience

(3–5 cr.)
COUN 6682A

Counseling Internship I

Counseling Internship I is the first course of a two-part capstone experience. By the end of the two courses, students will have conducted  600 hours of focused application of their counseling skills, with 240 of those hours being direct services to their identified population/setting. During the Internship I course, site and faculty supervisors guide and evaluate students on their ability to synthesize and apply the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions learned throughout their program of study. Students must secure a field experience site, apply with the Office of Field Experience within the published application window, and earn approval before being eligible for Internship I enrollment. Once enrolled, students complete  direct counseling hours, weekly individual or triadic supervision with their site supervisor, administrative duties, and other activities as assigned by the site. Concurrently, students participate in course activities each week designed to integrate their experiences at the site into their skills and professional identity as counselors-in-training, as well as participate in 2 hours of group supervision per week with their faculty supervisor and other clinically relevant assignments directly related to the work at the site. There are multiple synchronous components of this course. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course.

Prerequisites

  • Successful completion of Counseling Practicum
  • Approval by the Office of Field Experience

(3–5 cr.)
COUN 6682B

Counseling Internship II

Counseling Internship II is the second course of a two-part capstone experience. By the end of the two courses, students will have conducted  600 hours of focused application of their counseling skills, with 240 of those hours being direct services to their identified population/setting. During the Internship I course, site and faculty supervisors guide and evaluate students on their ability to synthesize and apply the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions learned throughout their program of study. Students must secure a field experience site, apply with the Office of Field Experience within the published application window, and earn approval before being eligible for Internship II enrollment. Once enrolled, students complete  direct counseling hours, weekly individual or triadic supervision with their site supervisor, administrative duties, and other activities as assigned by the site. Concurrently, students participate in course activities each week designed to integrate their experiences at the site into their skills and professional identity as counselors-in-training, as well as participate in 2 hours of group supervision per week with their faculty supervisor and other clinically relevant assignments directly related to the work at the site. There are multiple synchronous components of this course. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course.

Prerequisites

  • Successful completion of Counseling Internship I
  • Approval by the Office of Field Experience

(3–5 cr.)
VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses

Engage in Virtual Simulations With Theravue

Walden is one of the few institutions to fully integrate the counseling simulation software Theravue into our master’s program curriculum. This technology empowers you to develop your counseling competencies through intensive practice, opportunities for reflection, exploration of alternatives, and faculty assistance. Master critical skills in an authentic yet safe environment and be ready for real scenarios you’ll face in the field.

MS Dual Degree Program

You have the opportunity to switch to our MS Dual Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling program at any point during your studies. This option can give you greater career flexibility by allowing you to earn two counseling master’s degrees at the same time.

International Counseling Honor Society

Omega Zeta—Walden’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international counseling honor society—offers many ways to get involved and make your voice heard. This includes participating in Learning Communities—groups of students and faculty who meet biweekly to talk about counseling topics such as play therapy, private practice, and telemental health. Learning Communities are one more way to practice your skills, develop your professional school counselor identity, and forge lasting connections with like-minded peers.

Admission Requirements

Program Admission Considerations: A bachelor's degree or higher.

General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.


Tuition and Fees

FINANCIAL AID

Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.

*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.

Find Ways to Save

Program Savings

Receive up to a $3,000 Grant and tech fee waived for your first term, if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on December 13, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

Specializations

Walden’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling offers a General Program as well as five optional specializations to help you tailor your education to the clients you will serve.

General Program

Gain the insights, confidence, and practical skills to help clients cope with mental and emotional challenges.

Addiction Counseling

Prepare to address the emotional challenges of individuals and families as they cope with substance abuse issues.

Forensic Counseling

Build your knowledge of mental health law, with a specific focus on juvenile justice and delinquency.

Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Learn to empower people to resolve marriage and family conflicts related to divorce, mediation, child-rearing, and other matters.

Military Families and Culture

Help families cope with the complex emotional challenges of military life, such as prolonged deployments and PTSD.

Trauma and Crisis Counseling

Gain the counseling skills and theoretical foundation to help individuals heal from trauma and assist communities in managing crisis.

Program Outcomes

Career Outlook

Mental health counselors play a valuable role in helping people cope with life’s challenges—and demand for these professionals is rising. Employment for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling professionals is expected to grow by 25% through 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).2

A master’s in clinical mental health counseling academically prepares you to pursue licensure as a counseling professional in your state, which can open the door to opportunities in a variety of environments. From counseling individuals and families in times of crisis to helping people overcome addiction, you’ll be positioned for a meaningful and rewarding future changing lives for the better.

The BLS projects

25%

job growth for mental health counseling professionals through 2029.2

An MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree can prepare you to work in settings such as:

  • Outpatient and inpatient mental health and substance abuse centers
  • Individual and family service organizations (private practice)
  • Public or private hospitals
  • Courts/government agencies

Career positions may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of our master’s in clinical mental health counseling program, you will be prepared to:

  • Analyze the different roles and settings of a counselor.
  • Apply sound ethical and legal practices in the work of a counselor.
  • Analyze cultural development theories and models.
  • Examine empirically based theories of human development.
  • Evaluate approaches of career development appropriate to diverse needs and life experiences.
  • Examine appropriate evidence-based counseling practices for prevention and intervention.
  • Apply essential counseling skills across multiple settings.
  • Select group facilitation strategies that are culturally and ethically relevant.
  • Analyze assessment procedures to support planning for appropriate counseling interventions.
  • Evaluate research methods commonly used in the counseling profession.

Read our MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Outcomes Report and Annual Data Report on the School of Counseling DATA webpage.



Resources

Meet Your Academic Team

  • Tracy Senstock

    Tracy Senstock

    Senior Academic Program Director

    Dr. Senstock has been training counselors and counselor educators since 1988. She has served in program administration since 1990 and has helped achieve CACREP accreditation for many programs. Dr. Senstock is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado and a National Certified Counselor.

  • K. Elizabeth McDonald

    Program Director

    Dr. McDonald has worked in a residential setting for juveniles, a county jail, university counseling and psychological services settings, and community agencies. She is a licensed professional counselor in Minnesota, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board-Certified TeleMental Health Provider.

  • Susan Carmichael

    Director

    Dr. Carmichael is a licensed professional counselor in Mississippi. She has devoted more than 15 years to providing clinical services to underserved populations, working with individuals in all stages of development and with a range of clinical presentations.

Testimonials

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