Prepare for a specialized career in counseling in a variety of settings with an MS in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling.
The expert advice and skills of forensic counselors are in constant demand within the legal system. Through this specialization, you can build your knowledge of mental health law and enhance your competencies in conflict management and negotiation. Study how those skills can be applied to resolve marriage and family conflicts in the criminal justice system, from parental mediation services and divorce adjustment counseling for families to court-ordered parenting skills training and anger management sessions.
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 your time to completion, call an enrollment advisor at 855-646-5286.
|Quarter||1||Course Code||COUN 6101||Course||Foundations for Graduate Study in Counseling||Credits||(1 cr.)|
|Quarter||1||Course Code||COUN 6201||Course||Introduction to Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||COUN 6722||Course||Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||2||Course Code||COUN 6316||Course||Techniques in Counseling||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 6356||Course||Theories and Techniques in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||COUN 6215||Course||Lifespan Development||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||4||Course Code||COUN 6723||Course||Multicultural Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||5||Course Code||COUN 6336||Course||Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Response||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 6346||Course||Child and Adolescent Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||6||Course Code||COUN 6626||Course||Research Methodology and Program Evaluation||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||7||Course Code||COUN 6753||Course||Career Counseling||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||7||Course Code||COUN 6730||Course||Counseling Addictive Disorders||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||8||Course Code||COUN 6360||Course||Assessment in Counseling and Education||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||8||Course Code||COUN 6361||Course||Human Sexuality||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||9||Course Code||COUN 6785||Course||Social Change in Action: Prevention, Consultation, and Advocacy||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||9||Course Code||COUN 6511||Course||Treatment of Forensic Populations||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||10||Course Code||COUN 6912||Course||Mental Health Law||Credits||(5 cr.)|
|Quarter||10||Course Code||COUN 6671||Course||Counseling Practicum||Credits||(3-5 cr.)|
|Quarter||11||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-practitioner and social change agents. Topics include the relation of mission and vision to professional goals; development of the program of study and 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 psychology and counseling.
Counselors seeking to work with couples and families must understand the changing landscape of family dynamics and the diverse perspectives through which they must practice. Students in this course are introduced to the specialty area of marriage, couple, and family counseling, and they receive an orientation to professional organizations, preparation standards, credentials relevant to the specialty area, and legal and ethical issues. Students explore the history, philosophy, and trends in marriage, couple, and family counseling and examine a variety of theoretical perspectives, techniques, and related concepts, such as systems, family development, wellness, and family lifecycle. Through topical literature, case studies, and shared experiences, students assess societal trends and treatment issues related to working with multicultural and diverse family systems. They also consider future trends and potential challenges in the field.
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.
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.
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.
In this course, students are provided with the opportunity to gain an advanced understanding of theories and techniques for working with couples, marriages, and families as well as to acquire skills for theory integration and theory-based treatment. Through video demonstrations and other topical materials, students witness and examine empirically supported treatments and techniques in prevention, intervention, development, and promoting the well-being of marriages, couples, and families. They explore systemic implications for conceptualization, assessment, treatment planning, and interventions. Students also learn how to assess procedures for critically evaluating relevant research and how to apply these findings to their counseling practices. Additionally, they explore methods of adapting models to meet the needs of a diverse society and the legal and ethical issues related to working in this specialty area.
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 can increase their sensitivity, awareness, knowledge, and skills related to multicultural counseling and working effectively with diverse clients in this course. Students explore how their own cultural development, biases, values, and strengths impact the development of their counseling approach. Embracing diversity and various client identity issues and their impact on the counseling relationship are foundational to the course. The application of traditional theoretical orientations and current multicultural theories to culturally diverse groups is also addressed. Topics include age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, physical disability, social class, ethnicity and culture, culturally sensitive diagnosis and assessment, and family patterns. Counseling Residency I.)
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.
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.)
In this course, students examine empirically supported theories and techniques for working with children and adolescents in the counseling process. Students work toward enhancing their theoretical and practical understanding of the systemic interplay among children, adolescents, families, and the stakeholders in their lives. They engage in coursework and readings focused on a family-systems view of intervention, and they devote special attention to developmental, cognitive, behavioral, educational, multicultural, and environmental issues. Students assess a distinct group of empirically supported interventions aimed at improving individual and family functioning. They also explore the legal and ethical issues related to counseling children and adolescents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Students are provided with a framework for understanding human sexuality in the context of couple, marriage, and family counseling in this course. Students explore empirically supported counseling approaches related to sexual functioning, intimacy, gender, and sexual orientation. They use a systemic framework for understanding the role and impact of sexuality on couples, marriages, and families. Students also explore and discuss specific topics related to issues of sexual diversity, gender identity, sexual offending, trauma, and victimization. Legal and ethical issues related to addressing sexuality in counseling are addressed.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. Successful completion of Counseling Internship I and approval by the Office of Field Experience.)