M.S. IN MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING
 

Program Advisor: Dr. Christina Byrne

We have an excellent program for training Mental Health Counselors at Western Washington University. The program involves a two-year full-time package of academic courses and supervised practica and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program requires 91 quarter credit hours (non-thesis option) or 97 credit hours (thesis option). The information below presents some of the characteristics of the program and information on applying to the program.  For further information contact Dr. Christina Byrne, Director, Mental Health Counseling Program, Department of Psychology, MS 9172, 516 High Street, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, 98225-9172; phone: 360.650.7945; e-mail. Applicants may also call the psychology department graduate programs coordinator at 360.650.3184.

The Mental Health Counseling Program prepares students for careers in federal, state, and local clinics, privately funded agencies, colleges and universities, and other mental health counseling positions.  The program provides a general foundation in theoretical and applied perspectives of counseling in addition to offering the student a solid background in psychology.  Special emphasis is placed on skill development, supervised practica, and on-site internships in various community and mental health clinics.

The Mental Health Counseling program is one of three graduate programs in the Department of Psychology. The other two programs are School Counseling and Experimental Psychology. In addition, the Center for Cross-Cultural Research is located at Western Washington University.

Curriculum Content Areas

Psychology courses,  which are taken over a two-year period, include seminars and classes covering: Theories of counseling;  adult and developmental psychopathology; psychological testing and appraisal; research methods in counseling; social psychology; standardized tests; lifespan and psychological development; counseling techniques; individual counseling practicum; group counseling; family and couple counseling; professional, cultural and legal issues; and cross-cultural counseling issues.  Students complete either a thesis or a written comprehensive examination during their second year in the program.

After completing two quarters of applied experience under supervision at the Counseling Training Clinic during the first year, students apply to appropriate agencies or clinics to complete an internship during all three quarters of the second year, in addition to coursework and seminars.  Field internship experiences can be obtained through a variety of placements such as community mental health centers, counseling centers, community programs involving youth and the elderly, substance abuse treatment programs, and rehabilitation programs.  At the training site, the intern performs the activities of a regular staff member.  Mental health professionals closely supervise students during internship experiences.
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Employment Opportunities

A survey of our graduates indicated that they were employed in a diverse selection of jobs including: Counselor in an urban American Indian Mental Health Center; Quality Assurance Coordinator/Psychiatric Treatment Unit; Program Director/Outreach Program; Director, Geriatric Day Treatment Program; Child Development Counselor II; Coordinator, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program; Therapist for Eating Disorders; Out-patient Therapist; Counselor, Outpatient in Drug and Alcohol Treatment; University Instructor; Caseworker III; Crisis Counseling with Adolescents and Families; Director, Community Services; Outpatient Therapist and Children’s Day Treatment; Counselor, Adult Treatment Center; Mental Health Specialist/ Psychiatric Treatment, and Director of a tribal community services agency. Graduate students from our program also have been successful in Ph.D. programs at various universities.

Prerequisites

A psychology statistics and design course is required.  In addition, the following courses are strongly recommended: personality or abnormal; social or developmental; two courses from learning, motivation, cognition, and neuroscience; a course in history and systems of psychology or a course in the philosophy of science.

Graduate Counseling Programs Student Handbook, Department of Psychology

The Graduate Counseling Programs Student handbook presents comprehensive information about the counseling programs. The Handbook includes information about academic requirements, goals and objectives of the programs, teaching assistantships, scholarship standards, thesis requirements, comprehensive examinations, registration and enrollment, internships, diversity recruitment policy, National Counselor Examination, Academic Grievance Policy and Procedures, and other important information.

Download the Graduate Counseling Programs Student Handbook

Application

Our priority application deadline is February 1.  Later applications will be considered on a space-available basis only.  Applicants are required to submit ALL materials (see required application materials below) to the Graduate SchoolThe Graduate School will determine which applicants are eligible for admission and forward the applicant files to the Psychology Department.  An admissions committee within the Department will then conduct an initial review of the applications and select individuals to invite for personal interviews.  Interviews take place in early to mid-March, and final admission decisions are usually made by the end of the month.  We typically recommend six students for admission to the program each year.

Applicants are evaluated based on GPA, GRE scores, psychology background, letters of recommendation, personal preparation, experience, and motivation.  For further information contact Dr. Christina Byrne, Director, Mental Health Counseling Program, Department of Psychology, MS 9172, 516 High Street, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, 98225-9172; phone: 360. 650.7945; e-mail: christina.byrne@wwu.edu

Application information is available at Western Washington University’s Graduate School Mental Health Counseling Program website. If you have any questions or difficulties with the application process, please contact the Graduate School at gradschl@wwu.edu or call them at 360-650-3170.

Required application materials (to be submitted directly to the Graduate School; not to the Psychology department):

  • Graduate School application form and application fee

  • 3 letters of reference, no more than 1 year old 

  • 1 official transcript from each university/college attended, no more than 2 years old

  • Completed Questionnaire (Statement of Purpose, see below)

  • General GRE is required; for students without an undergraduate degree in psychology the subject test in psychology is recommended but not required. GRE scores must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the Educational Testing Service. Information on the GRE may be obtained online: www.gre.org.

If you would like to be considered for a Graduate School Assistantship, follow the instructions online at the Graduate School website. Currently, teaching assistants in the Department of Psychology are usually assigned to the undergraduate experimental psychology and statistics courses, or occasionally to the introduction to psychology course.  Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following: teaching laboratory classes where relevant, helping students understand the conceptual and computational components of statistics, helping students understand research methodology and design, and helping students become more competent scientific writers.

Mental Health Counseling Questionnaire (Statement of Purpose)
(To be included with application materials and submitted to the Graduate School)

1. Your name and e-mail address.
2. Your professional resume
3. What do you consider to be the primary role of a mental health counselor?
4. What experiences in life, work, and/or schooling have you had that are relevant to the counseling profession?
5. Why have you selected Western Washington University's counseling program?  What are your long-range professional plans in the field of mental health?
6. Research expertise is an integral part of your training. Please indicate at least two areas of clinical research and/or practice in which you are interested.
7. Please feel free to attach any additional information that you consider to be relevant to your application.

Tuition and Fees, Financial Aid, and Stipends

The current amounts for graduate tuition and fees for residents and non-residents can be obtained at the Graduate School website.

Teaching and research assistantships are available on a limited basis. Teaching assistantships include a substantial tuition waiver. To be considered for a graduate assistantship, please see instructions at the Graduate School website.

Students interested in applying for federal and state loans, grants or work/study should consult the Student Financial Aid Services Center, phone 360-650-3470. If you would like more information about Western Washington University, visit the Western Washington University website.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many credits are required?

The program requires a minimum of 91 quarter credits (comprehensive option) or 97 quarter credits (thesis option) to be completed in two years of full-time graduate study. The degree is a Master of Science (M.S.) in Mental Health Counseling.

Does the program require a thesis?

A thesis is not required. Students may complete a thesis, or pass a written comprehensive examination, or do both if they so desire.

Can I attend part-time or take classes in the summer or evening?

No, the program does not lend itself well to part-time study because of the highly structured nature of the practicum and internship experiences. All classes meet during the day. Program classes are not offered during the summer.

Do you have a satellite program?

The program is offered on the campus in Bellingham only. Some second-year students have completed internships as far away as Seattle or Vancouver, B.C., but they still must take courses on campus.

How large is the program?

We accept six students per year. The program is intentionally small in order to maintain small student/faculty ratios and class sizes.

Can I be certified/credentialed/licensed in other states?

Every state has its own requirements for certification, credentialing, or licensing (Washington State has a licensing process). You will need to contact the State Department of Licensing for specific information about each state. In general, people licensed in one state by a CACREP-accredited program can become licensed in other states.

What is the Licensing Process in Washington State?

Upon completion of a counseling program, one generally needs to complete 3 years of postgraduate full-time counseling, complete 100 hours of supervision, and pass a licensing exam.  Because we are CACREP approved, graduates from our program need only 2 ˝ years of postgraduate full-time counseling, and 50 hours of supervision, and can take the licensing exam (NCE) on campus during the second year of the program. 

When should I start my application?

Complete applications are due February 1 of each year. It is a good idea to complete the Graduate Record Examination in the preceding Fall.

Should my references be faculty members or work supervisors, or does it matter?

It is advisable to have a mix of recommendations. Identify at least one faculty member who can address your ability to complete graduate level work. It is also advisable to select a reference who can discuss your potential as a counselor.

May I include extra information in my application?

It is a good idea to include a cover letter that describes your interest in becoming a counselor. Be sure to let us know about your related work experience.

I've heard it is really hard to get admitted. How do I know if I stand a chance?

Our program is small and we receive many strong applications. However, this should not necessarily discourage you. If you believe that you have special qualities that we should consider, be sure to let us know. We do consider grades and test scores, but we consider other things as well.

Who are the counseling faculty?

There are seven faculty members within the department who have significant responsibility for our two graduate counseling programs.  Drs. Rob Bedi, Christina Byrne (Director, Mental Health Counseling Program), Tina Du Rocher Schudlich, Deborah Forgays, James Graham, Diana Gruman (Director, School Counseling Program), and Lucy Lewis.

Program Outcomes and Program Evaluation Report

- Mental Health Counseling Program Outcomes
- Mental Health Counseling Program Evaluation Report

Supervision Resources

Resources for Supervisors

Graduate Faculty, Department of Psychology
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Faculty Areas of Specialization
Bedi, Rob, Ph.D. Counseling relationship/alliance, counseling process and outcome, counseling psychology, alcohol and other drug use, career/vocational issues, and depression
Byrne, Christina, Ph.D. 

Psychological trauma, intimate partner violence

Carroll, Jeff, Ph.D. Physiological psychology
Czopp, Alexander, Ph.D. Social psychology, negative implications for intergroup relations of “positive” stereotypes of groups, prejudice reduction through interpersonal confrontation
Devenport, Jennifer, Ph.D.

Legal psychology, social psychology, jury decision making, factors influencing erroneous eyewitness identifications

Dinnel, Dale, Ph.D. Educational psychology, learning and cognition, problem solving
Du Rocher Schudlich, Tina, Ph.D. 

Developmental psychopathology, parent-child relationship, marital conflict, parental psychopathology and their interactions with children’s adjustment, parent-child emotion regulation

Finlay, Janet, Ph.D.

Physiological psychology, biological basis of psychiatric illness

Forgays, Deborah, Ph.D. Adolescent development, women’s health issues, women and anger across developmental stages
Goodvin, Rebecca, Ph.D. Social and emotional development in early childhood, self-concept development, attachment theory, parent-child relationships and communication, early intervention programs
Graham, James, Ph.D.

Adaptive processes in romantic relationships, same-sex couples, romantic love, measurement, multivariate statistics

Grimm, Jeffrey, Ph.D. Animal models of drug taking and drug seeking, neurobiology of drug taking and drug seeking
Gruman, Diana H., Ph.D. School counseling, child and adolescent development, educational psychology
Haskell, Todd, Ph.D. Language, visual and auditory perception, cognition
Hyman, Ira, Ph.D.

Memory, cognitive psychology, social cognition

Jantzen, K.J., Ph.D. Behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, human-environment interactions, temporal production and perception, mild brain injury, non-invasive measures of large scale brain function
King, Jeff, Ph.D. Effects of closed systems on societies; cultural competence across cultures; strategies to strengthen American Indian marriages according to tribal values; new systems of thinking applied to understanding culture & recognizing the limitations of western science; the dynamics of racism, oppression, & abuse of power on the individual and society; universals & particulars in healing processes across cultures
Lehman, Barbara, Ph.D. Childhood family environment and social/psychological health, research methods and statistics
Lemm, Kristi, Ph.D. Social psychology, implicit attitudes
Lewis, Lucy, Ph.D.

School counseling

Manago, Adriana, Ph.D. Developmental psychology
Mana, Michael, Ph.D. Physiological psychology, electrophysiological activity in the locus coeruleus, effects of chronic stress on the central nervous system, development of tolerance to drugs  
McLean, Kate, Ph.D. Adolescent identity development, narrative, autobiographical memory, personality, well-being
Riordan, Catherine, Ph.D. Social psychology
Rose, Jacqueline, Ph.D. Learning and memory, neurodevelopment, mechanisms of neuronal plasticity
Sampaio, Cristina, Ph.D.  Mechanisms and processes of memory, interactions of memory with knowledge, representations, phenomenal experience, memory errors, memory biasing processes, meta-cognition
Sattler, David, Ph.D. 

Psychological trauma and resilience, disaster stress, social psychology, environmental psychology

Symons, Lawrence, Ph.D. Face perception, perceptual development
Trimble, Joseph, Ph.D.  Social psychology, cross-cultural psychology and counseling, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, etiology and treatment among Native Americans and Alaska Natives

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