Develop the confidence, qualifications, and critical thinking skills necessary to advance as a mental health professional with a master’s in clinical mental health counseling.
Increasingly the legal and criminal justice systems are seeking the expert advice and skills of forensic counselors to determine the proper resolution of cases and the most effective treatment for offenders. Through this specialization, you can build your knowledge of mental health law, with a specific focus on juvenile justice and delinquency.
Enhance your competencies in conflict management and negotiation and learn how those skills can be applied to resolve conflicts in the criminal justice system. Upon completion of this specialization, you will be eligible for certification and licensure as a professional counselor with additional training in forensics.
“We are entering an era of greater collaboration within the courts and the criminal justice system and forensic counselors are vital parts of this coordinated effort to enhance the judicial process,” says Savitri Dixon-Saxon, PhD, associate dean, School of Counseling. “From offering mediation assistance in child custody cases to working with offenders as they move through the system, forensic counselors have an important role to play in ensuring the best possible resolution for individuals involved in the legal system.”
The courses are delivered in a prescribed sequence. Each 11-week quarter, except for the first and ninth quarter, includes two concurrent 11-week courses.
|Quarter||1||Course Code||COUN 6101||Course||Foundations for Graduate Study in Counseling||Credits||(1 cr.)|
|Quarter||1||Course Code||COUN 6100||Course||Introduction to Mental Health Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||COUN 6316||Course||Techniques in Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||COUN 6722||Course||Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||CPLB 601L||Course||Pre-Practicum 1||Credits||(0 cr.)|
|Quarter||3||Course Code||COUN 6306||Course||Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||3||Course Code||COUN 6723||Course||Multicultural Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||COUN 6360||Course||Assessment in Counseling and Education||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||COUN 6215||Course||Lifespan Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||COUN 6720||Course||Diagnosis and Assessment||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||COUN 6250||Course||Group Process and Dynamics||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||CPLB 602L||Course||Pre-Practicum 2||Credits||(0 cr.)|
|Quarter||6||Course Code||COUN 6626||Course||Research Methodology and Program Evaluation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||6||Course Code||COUN 6726||Course||Couples and Family Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||7||Course Code||COUN 6753||Course||Career Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||7||Course Code||COUN 6785||Course||Social Change in Action: Prevention, Consultation, and Advocacy||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||8||Course Code||COUN 6730||Course||Counseling Addictive Disorders||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||8||Course Code||COUN 6743||Course||Psychopharmacology||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||9||Course Code||COUN 6336||Course||Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Response||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||9||Course Code||COUN 6671||Course||Counseling Practicum||Credits||(3–5 cr.)|
|Quarter||10||Course Code||COUN 6682A||Course||Counseling Internship I||Credits||(3–5 cr.)|
|Quarter||11||Course Code||COUN 6682B||Course||Counseling Internship II||Credits||(3–5 cr.)|
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.
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.
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.
There are hundreds of therapeutic theories and techniques available to frame the practice of counseling and psychotherapy. An important skill for mental health counselors is to understand the strengths and limitations of these theories to determine which are most appropriate and work best in their own personal practice. In this course, students explore the history of counseling and psychotherapy theories. They examine the major approaches to counseling and psychotherapy in current use, including empirical foundations, advantages, and limitations. Students assess examples of theory-based applications and develop a personal theory of counseling based on theories and techniques assessed in the course.
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.
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.
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. Counseling Residency I.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. GRPL 6100 and COUN 6250 for those in Addiction Counseling; Marriage, Family, and Couple Counseling; and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs. GRPL 6100 and COUN 6350 for those in School Counseling programs.)
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.
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.
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.
In this course, students prepare for their roles as counselors in areas of prevention, intervention, and consultation with specific populations in different settings. Students assess these three areas of mental health counseling, including the relationships among them, methodological applications, and related ethical and legal considerations. They also discuss a variety of topics with their peers, such as applications for social change, needs of specific populations, iatrogenic harm, professional approaches and challenges, program evaluation, and future trends. Using an action-research model, students develop a blueprint for a project to address a contemporary mental health issue through the context of prevention, intervention, or consultation.
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.
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.
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.
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. All core courses in the program of study, all residencies, and approval by the Office of Field Experience.)
Counseling Internship I is the first of a two-part capstone experience. 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 will spend a minimum average of 25–35 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 of this course. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course. (Prerequisite(s): Successful completion of Counseling Practicum and approval by the Office of Field Experience.)
Counseling Internship II is second of a two-part capstone experience. 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 will spend a minimum average of 25–35 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 of this course. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course. (Prerequisite(s): Successful completion of Counseling Internship I and approval by the Office of Field Experience.)
Two courses (10 cr.) are required.
Choose one additional course (COUN 6511 is required).
|Quarter||10||Course Code||COUN 6511||Course||Treatment of Forensic Populations||Credits||(5 cr.)|
Juvenile Justice, Delinquency, and Development
Conflict, Conflict Resolution, and Peace
Mental Health Law
In this course, students gain the foundational knowledge necessary to evaluate and subsequently treat many different forensic populations, such as sex offenders, substance abusers, and white-collar criminals. Students analyze the use of traditional forms of intervention, including individual and group psychotherapy, as well as recent developments in intervention, such as restorative justice. Applying concepts and theories learned in the course, students develop a project scenario in which they feature an offender and describe treatment approaches as well as related ethical, legal, and multicultural factors that may impact treatment. Reflecting on the course, students also consider and discuss professional identity and goals.
In this course, students focus on the various aspects of the juvenile justice system and the population that it serves. Students experience an overview of development theories, such as biological, cognitive, social-emotional, and social. Students apply these theories to cases of juvenile delinquency to determine appropriate prevention, treatment, and intervention strategies. They examine juvenile justice codes, case law, and effective methods for reporting offenses. Students also explore the changing landscape of the juvenile justice field based on current research of its population. Using theories presented in the course, students develop a delinquency-prevention or treatment program for their community, focusing on the underlying goal of social justice and change.
Through this course, students engage in a study of conflict, conflict resolution, and peace from psychological and social psychological perspectives. Students examine the concept of conflict and methods of addressing it, including management, resolution, and transformation; theories related to conflict resolution; approaches to conflict resolution, including negotiation and third-party interventions; and social psychological factors that influence conflict and conflict resolution. They also consider the influence of culture in conflict and conflict resolution; the role of ethics; intractable and international conflicts; the concept of peace; and how third-party approaches can contribute to the peace process. Students apply conflict resolution approaches to conflicts at all levels, from interpersonal to those involving whole nations.
Mental health counseling professionals in all areas, especially criminal forensic psychological practice, may encounter various conflicts regarding psychological and legal approaches to treatment. Therefore, it is important for counselors to have a firm understanding of mental health law to avoid conflicts, such as issues of liability and malpractice. Students in this course are provided with the opportunity to examine several different aspects of the law related to mental health issues, including those constituting forensic psychological practice, such as civil matters (personal injury and civil competency issues) and criminal matters (competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, diminished capacity, and death-penalty issues). Students employ recent court decisions and laws, such as the Tarasoff ruling, mandated reporting, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to examine how mental health law influences the practice of psychology and mental health counseling.
*You can focus on a general counseling area and complete your field experience before the Forensic Counseling courses, or focus on a specific area of Forensic Counseling and complete your field experience after your specialization coursework.