Emory & Henry College launches new Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

Posted by Leah Prater
Emory & Henry College School of Health Sciences is launching a new Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program in the fall of 2021 pending approval by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The program is a 60 credit, 24-month program, consisting of six consecutive semesters. The master’s degree program prepares clinical mental health counselors for a rewarding profession which emphasizes prevention of emotional and mental health concerns, early intervention when problems are identified, and client empowerment.

From the first semester, students will be engaged in experiential learning and you can see that come to life when you visit the classrooms and training spaces,” says Dr. Stephanie Hall, founding department chair and program director. Dr. Hall has extensive experience in counselor education and program accreditation. She has been a site visitor for the Council of Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs for 12 years and previously chaired a counselor education department with a large graduate program in New Jersey.

“I believe that prospective students will be impressed by the School of Health Sciences campus, and specifically our counselor education training lab,” adds Dr. Hall. “This program will include local clinical work in addiction counseling, grief and trauma and family counseling with an emphasis on evidence based practices.”

The mission of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program is to graduate competent entry level clinical mental health counselors who play an active role in enhancing community wellness. Graduates will be prepared to apply to become a resident in counseling, which will provide graduates with a full range of career opportunities in a variety of settings including community mental health agencies, substance abuse treatment programs, schools, colleges, universities, rehabilitation agencies, hospitals, residential treatment programs, employee assistance programs, and social service agencies.

“We have planned that this program will have an interdisciplinary focus. Our counseling students will be training alongside students enrolled in physician’s assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing programs,” says Dr. Hall. “We believe that this experience will be invaluable to students and will contribute to a more holistic view of care for the clients that we serve.”

In the 2018 State of Mental Health report, Virginia was ranked 36th regarding adult individuals with unmet needs for mental health treatment , with 22% reporting barriers to treatment. In particular, the area surrounding Emory & Henry College is classified as a High Needs Mental Health Professional Shortage Area by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The need for mental health professionals in southwest Virginia is highlighted by the divide between qualified clinical mental health counselors in the region and the high demand for services. Graduates of this program would be poised to meet this need in the region.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program will be developed and implemented with a conscious and deliberate recognition that rural communities – communities in which most program participants will likely serve – face unique challenges and possess unique strengths with which to face those challenges. Sustaining and improving communities and mental health issues in rural Virginia requires unique knowledge bases and specific technical and practitioner skills. The program at Emory & Henry is ideally suited to meet the needs of this region by providing excellent training for qualified mental health counselors.

Applications are now being accepted.

This program will include local clinical work in addiction counseling, grief and trauma and family counseling with an emphasis on evidence based practices.
- Dr. Stephanie Hall

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