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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the program’s accreditations?
NMHU is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and approved by the New Mexico Counseling & Therapy Practice Board and the New Mexico Public Education Department. The School Counseling Program is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The Vocational Rehabilitation Program is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). The professional counseling emphasis is currently aligned with the accrediting body for the counseling profession, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Why is being a CACREP graduate beneficial to me?
This accrediting body, formed in 1981, functions in close collaboration and cooperation with the American Counseling Association. CACREP promotes the advancement of quality educational programs in counselor training through the publication of state‐of‐the‐art standards of training.
Whether a student is considering attending a campus‐based or online CACREP accredited program, there are many benefits to graduating from a program approved by CACREP. If a counseling training program is accredited by CACREP, students are assured that the program’s content, quality, and standards of training meet the highest level of standards in the profession. A CACREP‐accredited program is required to maintain a curriculum that provides the academic knowledge necessary for professional licensure in most states. Further, accredited programs assure students and the consumers they will serve that a program’s curriculum includes relevant counseling coursework and skill preparation. Historically, graduating from a CACREP program offers the graduate greater access to employment markets, a state-of-the-art training program, an edge over non‐CACREP graduates in admission to doctoral programs, and eligibility for licensure.
Can I transfer credits from another school?
Yes. Students are limited to transferring no more than six (6) semester credits as substitutes for current courses in their plan of study. Course equivalency is determined by the faculty who will evaluate a student’s courses by reviewing syllabi, course requirements, relevant program/university accreditation, and required text(s).
Can I take the courses I need to become licensed in school counseling, vocational rehabilitation counseling, and/or professional counseling if I am currently licensed in only one area?
Yes. Talk to an advisor to set the appropriate course of study in a certificate program.
Can I complete my counseling program more slowly or quickly than a standard program sequence?
Yes. The counseling program recommends 6-9 credits per semester of course work and supervised experiences. Students may enroll in as few as 3 credits per semester with a sequence of courses as planned by the student and his/her advisor. However, we do not recommend this plan because it prolongs graduation.
How does graduate schoolwork compare to undergraduate studies?
Graduate school tends to be more demanding of the student’s time, and professors clearly expect that students have the ability to work independently. It is imperative that you complete reading assignments when they are due – you cannot expect to just “get by” with lectures and class discussion. Readings will not necessarily be covered in class, although students are encouraged to ask questions or bring up points of discussion about reading material. Classwork is in addition to readings and should add to and enrich what you can acquire on your own. The reason our expectations and demands are so high is that this is your chosen profession. You will be leaving here ready to become a practicing professional counselor. We feel a heavy responsibility to ensure that you receive the best preparation possible. We also expect that you will take advantage of every opportunity to learn, by attending workshops, lectures, and other special events and programs.
What is the difference between counseling and related fields, such as clinical psychology and social work?
This is an important question. Many people are confused about the distinctions between the different helping professions, and this lack of understanding can lead to muddled professional identities. There are many commonalities to all the helping professions, such as a desire to make a difference, the understanding of the need for diverse perspectives, and the types of settings in which these professionals work. However, counseling is unique in several ways. First, counseling is focused primarily on understanding and working with the normal developmental themes, transitions, and challenges throughout a person’s life. Therefore, while we address and treat dysfunction where it exists, we emphasize strengths, mental health, and wellness versus pathology. Counseling professionals often refer to themselves as followers of the developmental versus the medical model, though it is important to be able to function in both realms. Relatedly, counseling is often focused on primary and secondary prevention as opposed to remediation and treatment. This indicates that counselors work diligently to help people remain healthy or to receive assistance as soon as possible after encountering psychological difficulties. We believe that this model is more respectful of peoples’ strengths and is more humane in that we strive to help people develop fully and avoid spending our time “putting out fires.” Counselors also work with people in crisis to both stabilize the condition and help the client(s) gain a perspective that will hopefully help them in future times of distress. Third, the counseling profession has also evolved from career guidance and educational model. Therefore, we work to deftly combine psycho-education with counseling, and recognize that people’s educational and career needs must be addressed as they interact continuously with mental health. Finally, like clinical social work, counseling is a masters-level profession. This means that practitioners who have the appropriate qualifications can gain an independent license with a terminal master’s degree. Counseling and clinical psychology require a doctoral degree for an independent practitioner license.
How big are the classes?
“Somewhat variable.” Most classes consist of between 6 and 12 students. Current students and alumni often indicate that having a small class size and personalized learning atmosphere is one of their favorite aspects of the program.
What time do classes meet?
During the academic year, classes meet between 3 and 10 p.m. on both weekdays and weekends to provide a manageable program for working adults.
Will I need to know how to use a computer?
Yes. The counseling program requires students in its courses to be able to use a computer to perform the required tasks and assignments needed to meet course objectives and goals. Assignments are to be word-processed and regular use of e-mail is expected.
Is the program an online degree program?
No, the program is not an online degree program. A number of the required courses are available in online synchronous, asynchronous or hybrid format, but the program is not considered an online degree program.
What are synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid?
Synchronous means that students will attend class through Zoom at a certain date and time.
Asynchronous means that students will do the work and watch any lectures without having to meet at a certain time or date.
Hybrid refers to a combination of the two!
Are summer courses available?
A limited number of courses are available over the summer. It is recommended that you take your electives then, as many of the core curriculum classes can only be taught over the academic year.
What kind of grades are expected of me?
You will be expected to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, which means that any grade below a B is indicative of performance below what is expected for graduate students. In this program, no more than two grades below B are acceptable.
Do students have to undergo personal counseling themselves?
Students are required to complete 10 sessions of personal counseling, or another personal growth experience that has been approved by the instructor during their first semester. This requirement is included as part of COUN 601 Professional Orientation. Personal counseling is recommended for several reasons. First, self-disclosure is an important part of the learning process. Your ability to discuss your own issues affects how you can work with others. Second, it is helpful to understand from your own perspective the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors often encountered by clients. Third, it is likely that you will encounter some personal issues through your experience in graduate school as we will be discussing many sensitive topics and undergoing intensive self-exploration. Finally, how can we reasonably expect people to open up to strangers, even if they are professional counselors if we are not willing to take that risk ourselves? Simply stated, undergoing personal counseling will help you become a better counselor.
How long will it take me to complete the program?
It can take anywhere between 2 ½ and 6 years. Most students finish in three, depending on their outside commitments and professional plan.
What are the differences among the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Rehabilitation Counseling concentrations?
The Professional Counseling emphasis consists of 60 credits and requires one 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships. There are 5 emphasis-specific courses and 9 credits in electives required to complete this emphasis.
The School Counseling emphasis consists of 48 credits and requires one 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour school-based internships. There are 3 emphasis-specific courses and 3 credits in electives required to complete this emphasis.
The Rehabilitation Counseling emphasis consists of 48 credits and requires one 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships in sites of their concentration. There are 4 emphasis-specific courses required to complete this emphasis. The Rehabilitation emphasis also has an optional specialty area called Vocational Evaluation, which can be completed in conjunction with the degree, bringing that emphasis to 54 credits.
Will I be expected to conduct a thesis project?
Students are required to do a professional paper during internships, typically in their final two semesters. This paper consists of four major sections: a description of the theory the student has chosen to focus on; a problem the student is interested in exploring; the application of the chosen theory to the identified problem; and, a personal reaction in light of what was presented in the first three sections of the paper. This paper is reviewed by several faculty members in the counseling department. It must be revised until all members of the review committee accept the paper. The chair of the counseling department will not release the student for graduation until this paper and all other exit requirements are completed satisfactorily.
Will I be eligible for licensure when I graduate?
Each of these emphases qualifies you to apply for the corresponding licensure in New Mexico and most other states.
What types of jobs will be available to me after I graduate?
Graduates of our program typically go into diverse settings upon graduation. The most popular places of employment include community agency counseling, hospital-based work, schools, vocational rehabilitation settings, and private practice. However, counselors also work in other areas such as employee assistance programs, organizational consulting, public health, and higher education. Many students go on to complete further areas of study, such as doctoral programs in counseling psychology or counselor education. Statistics on employment in the state, as well as nationally, can be found on the page for the Counseling Program’s Annual Reports.