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Philosophy and Aims of the Program

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The MS in Psychology: Clinical Counseling training program offers the Master of Science degree through integrated academic, scientific, and professional training. The program provides students with intensive instruction in the theoretical framework of psychology and clinical counseling and broad experience in empirically supported methods of practice in psychology and clinical counseling.

Our program design is informed by the scientist-practitioner model of training in psychology. The training goal of the MS in Psychology: Clinical Counseling program is to produce clinicians who can integrate the science of mental health research with practice. Accordingly, graduates of the program will be proficient consumers of the research literature who in-turn utilize empirically supported treatment methodologies to help their clients. Although our ultimate training goal is to produce proficient mental health service providers, interested students can avail themselves of additional training and research experiences during their course of study. Given that the scientist-practitioner model of training is ideal for psychologists who utilize scientific methods in the conduct of professional practice (Belar & Perry, 1992), we believe a training philosophy informed by this model will produce excellent counselors as well. To this end, the core courses are organized as integrated theory-research-practice units with a problem-solving emphasis.

The overall training emphasis of the program involves both a biological and a behavioral approach to the understanding and treatment of abnormal behavior and its relationship to normal behavior. The curriculum is designed to produce graduates who employ empirically-based assessment and intervention techniques. Cognitive-Behavioral therapeutic interventions are emphasized in our curriculum, but other methods are discussed as well. The training ensures the development of broad-based clinical skills and encourages interprofessional work with other healthcare specialists, such as physicians, other mental health professionals and allied health professionals.

Our curriculum is designed to be completed with two-years of full-time study. The curriculum combines classroom and clinical experiences with service-learning opportunities in order to produce well-rounded graduates who are ready to enter the field of Clinical Counseling as a practitioner. Core courses, as required by licensing authorities to meet the educational requirements for licensure, courses required by the department and electives within and outside of the Department of Psychology comprise the curriculum which totals a minimum of 90 quarter hours. All students must also complete a minimum 700 hour Internship/Practicum training experience during their second year of full-time studies.

The MS in Psychology: Clinical Counseling core curriculum (our Clinical Concentration) is constructed as a general degree. However, through the selection of electives, students can focus a portion of their training on specific areas of interest (e.g., assessment, nutrition, alternative medicine, psychopathology, etc). Our Research Concentration allows students to obtain the skills and knowledge of the core curriculum, and maintain the same educational qualifications for licensure, while providing for additional opportunities to hone research skills. The Research Concentration is particularly useful for the student interested in pursuing doctoral-level training after completing the program. 

Students who complete our training program will have the necessary educational credentials to apply for licensure as a Professional Counselor/Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois. Although licensure requirements vary from state to state, it is anticipated that our program's curriculum will meet the educational criteria for most, if not all, other states that license counselors. Prospective students should confirm the licensing requirements of other states in which they wish to pursue licensure prior to enrolling.

Upon entering the MS in Psychology: Clinical Counseling program, students are assigned a faculty advisor. Advisors guide students through the selection of electives, independent study and practicum experiences necessary to complete the program and meet the student's training goals and needs. The advisor provides information, direction, feedback and long-term guidance. Advisors meet with students periodically to review academic performance and to discuss the student's future plans.

For questions about the program, please call Kenneth H. Kessler, PhD, MSCP, Program Director at 847-578-3305 or email him at