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M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Web: Department of Counseling

Professor SooHyun Tak, Program Director
Fowler Hall, Room 118

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program prepares graduates to be multiculturally competent professional counselors, able to work skillfully with deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and hearing clients of diverse backgrounds in a variety of mental health settings. Our training model emphasizes the development of cultural self-awareness, sensitivity, knowledge, and skills essential to becoming effective and ethical practitioners who are able to promote health and well being for all persons in the context of social justice and multiculturalism.

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program offers students the opportunity to have a clinical or community counseling emphasis through the fieldwork placement. Practicum and internship opportunities typically include state, local, and private mental health agencies, addictions programs, psychiatric hospitals, and educational programs serving the mental health needs of deaf and hard of hearing persons and their hearing family members. The program is a hybrid program with the first year (including the summer session) being in residence at Gallaudet with courses taught primarily in the traditional classroom setting and the second year being a fieldwork placement out of the DC metropolitan area with continued coursework online.

The master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling consists of a minimum of 70 credit hours and requires two academic years, including one summer to complete. The program of study is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Students are eligible to take the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) during their last semester of studies.


Admissions Procedures and Requirements

Applicants for the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling must complete the application procedures and meet the requirements for graduate study at Gallaudet University. Visit the Graduate Admissions web site for more information and a checklist of application requirements. Detailed program information and course descriptions are also available under the 'Courses' and 'Overview' tabs.



First Date for Consideration of Application: November 15
Due Date for Completed Application: February 15

Students applying to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program must initially meet general requirements established by the graduate school:

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation. Appropriate sources for recommendation include a current/recent supervisor, a current/recent college instructor, someone familiar with applicant to give accurate testimony of applicant's character and dispositions fitting to the counseling field. Family members and friends are not appropriate sources for recommendation.
  • Interview, in person or by Videophone, with program faculty is required
  • American Sign Language proficiency at a level sufficient to successfully complete the Admissions Interview. This interview, conducted in ASL with program faculty who have scored 4 or higher on the ASLPI, insures, among other things, the applicant's potential for full linguistic access to and participation in instruction and other curricular activities in this graduate program. "Successful completion" is achieved when the applicant demonstrates both receptive and expressive ASL skills such that the interview flows without significant interruptions.

Program Specific Requirements

  • Four (4) personal essays required by the Department of Counseling related to their interest in the field of mental health counseling and deaf persons.

Required Prior Coursework

  • Nine undergraduate or graduate credits in Psychology as follows:
    • Child/Adolescent or Human Development (3),
    • Abnormal Psychology (3), and
    • any other three credit Psychology course (may be completed during the summer prior to starting this program).

Core Program of Study

Semester I - Fall

COU 708Counseling for Wellness and Human Development3
COU 710Orientation to the Profession of Mental Health Counseling3
COU 721Foundations in Helping Skills I4
COU 730Social and Cultural Diversity Foundations & Multicultural Counseling3
COU 732Theories and Approaches in Counseling and Psychotherapy3
  • Total Semester Credits: 16

Semester II - Spring

COU 709Culture, Identity & the American Deaf Community3
COU 714Emotional & Behavioral Disorders Across the Lifespan4
COU 715Family Therapy3
COU 720Introduction to Research for Counselors3
COU 731SIMSOC: Simulated Society1
COU 742Practicum in Clinical Mental Health Counseling4
  • Qualifying Exam at end of Spring
  • Total Semester Credits: 18

Summer Session

COU 716Psychopharmacology for Counselors1
COU 748Principles of Assessment in Counseling3
COU 753Group Psychotherapy4
COU 765Crisis and Trauma Counseling2
  • Total Semester Hours: 10

Semester III - Fall

COU 728The Cycle of Substance Abuse3
COU 734Lifestyles and Career Development3
COU 792Internship I in Clinical Mental Health Counseling8
  • Total Semester Credits: 14

Semester IV - Spring

COU 736Organization and Administration of Human Service Programs3
COU 794Internship II in Clinical Mental Health Counseling8
  • Total Semester Credits: 11

Total Core Credits for Degree: 69


COU 708 - Counseling for Wellness and Human Development (3)

Wellness can be defined as a way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being, in which the individual integrates mind, body, and spirit to experience life more fully. It is both an outcome and a process. Wellness will be considered in the context of human development and transitions across the life span. This course looks at wellness from a counseling perspective and is designed to explore the theories, research, techniques, and activities that enhance well-being in the client and counselor throughout life. The course is grounded in wellness models that integrate a holistic perspective to the overall mental health of individuals, families, and organizations. Attention will be given to addressing client strengths, optimism, happiness, hope, and resiliency, particularly through practices drawn from various cultural traditions. The format of this course is didactic, experiential, and interactive.

  • Co-requisite: COU 721; or permission of instructor

COU 709 - Culture, Identity & the American Deaf Community (3)

This course is designed to focus on the culture and identity of deaf/hard of hearing individuals and their related cultural communities in the context of American society. It will promote in-depth exploration and understanding of personal, socio-political, and cultural relationships of these individuals and communities and the effects on the counseling process and relationship between counselor and client, including group and systems level change dynamics. The course will utilize and build upon the theoretical frameworks and practices introduced in COU 730: Social and Cultural Diversity Foundations & Multicultural Counseling, including continuation of the "Sharing Views" cross cultural dialogue groups. There will be 5 units in this course: Deaf people within a Multicultural Framework, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Deaf populations, Intersectionality and Deaf Identities, Culturally Responsive Practice (Counselor to Client and Client Systems), and Working with Deaf Children in context of their Family, School, and Community.

  • Prerequisite: COU 730

COU 710 - Orientation to the Profession of Mental Health Counseling (3)

The course provides an orientation to basic mental health counseling principles, processes, counselor roles and functions, professional ethics, issues, organizations, and publications. Specific emphasis will be placed on mental health counseling with deaf individuals and deaf people with multiple disabilities, networking with other agencies, advocacy, and professional responsibilities.

COU 714 - Emotional & Behavioral Disorders Across the Lifespan (4)

This course is designed to provide a foundation in the conceptualization, identification and treatment of emotional and behavioral disorders across the lifespan. Attention will be given to the specific symptoms associated with common psychological disorders such as those addressed in the DSM-5 and medical diagnoses that may have emotional, behavioral or learning implications for children, adolescents and adults. In addition, the course will take into account cultural aspects, age considerations, associated complications, and predisposing factors. This important foundation is reinforced through case studies with emphasis on case formulation, conceptualization and potential interventions. Intervention and treatment planning using a strength- and wellness-based model will be considered. Additionally, attention is given to the appropriate preventive measures. Students will begin to utilize the DSM system of classification while not being completely bound by this system and thus begin to develop their own working models of how maladaptive patterns of adjustment develop, persist and can evolve into newer, more adaptive patterns of functioning.

  • Prerequisites: Completion of COU 710 or 712, and COU721 and COU732

COU 715 - Family Therapy (3)

This course is designed to examine the major contemporary theories and approaches in couples, marital and family therapy. From this framework, candidates will also consider the applicability of these theories in working with deaf children, adolescents, adults and families with deaf members. Examined will be major concepts of family dynamics and the family life cycle, with additional emphasis on families with deaf members. Candidates will be introduced to key concepts involving 1) the understanding of functional and dysfunctional relationships which often occur within couples and families and which also may occur between the client/family and therapist or other professionals involved with deaf persons, 2) the formulation and implementation of clinical intervention techniques to modify dysfunctional individuals, couples or families and larger than family dynamics. Activities will include lecture, class discussion, case presentations, and role playing simulation sessions with post-session discussions. A major emphasis is placed on the development and becoming of the couples, marital and family therapist.

  • Prerequisites: COU 732.

COU 716 - Psychopharmacology for Counselors (1)

This is an introduction to current psychoactive medications used most often in schools and counseling/psychiatric settings today. The course will explore the conditions which respond best to psychoactive drugs, the specific drugs used to treat specific conditions, and the typical dosages used. In addition, it will explore when it is appropriate to suggest medication and also alternative medication, side effects to be aware of, and the benefits gained from the use of psychoactive drugs.

  • Prerequisites: Graduate level standing.

COU 720 - Introduction to Research for Counselors (3)

The purpose of this course is to assist students in understanding the language, principles, reasoning, and methodologies of research and to help them critically evaluate counseling research literature. Students will recognize ethical issues relevant to conducting culturally appropriate research, and how research can improve counseling effectiveness. Instruction is approached from a multicultural perspective, including through the selection of instructional materials and student assessments.

  • Prerequisites: permission of the instructor.

COU 721 - Foundations in Helping Skills I (4)

This introductory course provides students with an understanding of essential interviewing and counseling skills necessary to develop a therapeutic relationship with clients from diverse backgrounds, establish appropriate counseling goals, design intervention strategies, evaluate client outcome, and successfully terminate the counselor-client relationship. Counselor characteristics and behaviors that influence helping processes including age, gender, and ethnic differences, verbal and nonverbal behaviors and personal characteristics, orientations, and skills are covered. This course facilitates student self-awareness and sensitivity toward Deaf culture and other multicultural issues that facilitate relationships among people. Ethical issues in working with clients are reviewed. The instructional format including lectures, discussions, small group activities, and student engagement in role playing and simulated counseling sessions.

COU 728 - The Cycle of Substance Abuse (3)

The goal of this course is to help professionals working with deaf and hard of hearing people understand the impact of drug and alcohol abuse throughout the individual's life span as well as within family and social systems. The course will examine current trends in alcohol and drug abuse; legal implications; street names and drug symptom identifiers for counselors; the medical implications for prescription and non-prescription drug abuse; substance abuse terminology; the historical context of substance abuse in American society; community responses to substance abuse; essentials of substance abuse prevention; deafness, family dynamics, and substance abuse; and substance abuse treatment strategies and service accessibility.

  • Prerequisites: Graduate level standing.

COU 730 - Social and Cultural Diversity Foundations & Multicultural Counseling (3)

This course is designed for students' personal and professional development in the area of social and cultural diversity awareness development and multicultural counseling. Effective and meaningful multicultural work with culturally diverse clients/groups/communities requires helping professionals to develop a continuing awareness of self; increased knowledge and practical understanding of others' world-views; and an ever changing and evolving skill set for effective engagement with diverse individuals/populations. Throughout the course students will begin to develop their own "cultural portfolios" through the activities and experiences in and outside of the classroom setting that have been designed to draw out personal thought, reflection, evaluation-re-evaluation, and interpersonal dialogue on related issues of cultural relevance and social justice work as a helping professional. This course will facilitate deeper awareness, broader knowledge and understanding, and provide a framework to developing multicultural competence as a counselor all the while addressing the impact of culture and power on an individual, his/her family, community, organizational structures and systems of power that reflect culture. The course takes a meta model approach to identity, and views people as being multifaceted and members of multiple cultural/language groups including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religious diversity, disability, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, language, education, and much more. Throughout the course, there is considerable use of experiential learning exercises including individual, pair, small and large group dialogue and activity in and outside of class, regular reading, didactic teaching of theoretical concepts, frameworks, and practices, gust presentation and use of media reflect the teaching approaches.

  • Co-requisites: Simultaneously taken with COU 710, or 712, 717, 721, 732

COU 731 - SIMSOC: Simulated Society (1)

SIMSOC is an experiential learning simulation activity developed in the 1960's by William Gamson that explores system / organizational dynamics, processes of large scale conflict, protest, social control, and social change. The simulation is played over two full consecutive days, and then is followed by an extensive debriefing, and an additional follow up and application session. During the simulation, participants are assigned membership into one of four "regions" of the SIMSOC "society". Each individual is given specific roles, responsibilities, and resources. During the SIMSOC experience, participants deepen their own understanding of themselves and others as they address complex intra- and inter- group communication, team-building, trust building, negotiation skills and other aspects of fact to face multicultural interactions. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore the challenge of creating a Utopian society. They experience the dynamics between individualism and collectivism as they seek to satisfy specific individual "goals" while simultaneously working to ensure the survival and developing culture of the society as a whole. This course is required for all Department of Counseling students (both Mental and School Counseling majors). The course is an elective course for non-counseling graduate students with Instructors permission.

  • Prerequisites: This course is for graduate level students and/or instructor permission

COU 732 - Theories and Approaches in Counseling and Psychotherapy (3)

This course provides graduate counselor trainees with a foundation in the counseling treatment approaches commonly used in school, community, mental health counseling settings. This course is fundamental in developing skills in assessment of client needs and application of effective preventive and therapeutic counseling interventions. This course emphasizes the appropriate application of counseling and psychotherapy theories to culturally diverse populations of children and adults.

  • Prerequisites: Department of Counseling degree students and special graduate students with permission.

COU 734 - Lifestyles and Career Development (3)

This course is designed to provide students with knowledge of theories, materials, programs, and practices in the career development area. It specifically seeks to identify practices used with or potentially useful with deaf people. A central theme is the recognition of the role of career and work with the integration of personality. The course will discuss multicultural issues. Emphasis will be placed on discussing the career needs of deaf and hard of hearing people.

  • Prerequisites: COU 710.

COU 736 - Organization and Administration of Human Service Programs (3)

This course focuses on the principles and procedures for establishing and maintaining guidance and counseling services in a variety of educational settings. Special emphasis is given to the systems approach, and to the process of needs assessment, program development, and program evaluation.

COU 742 - Practicum in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (4)

This course is the first in a sequence of practica and is one of major experiential components of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. By the end of this course, students will have developed entry-level counseling skills, which include the ability to provide counseling, prepare reports and treatment plans, and to work directly with and be supervised by experienced professionals in mental health settings. Counseling skills will be reviewed by faculty and site supervisors using student self-report, recorded sessions, and/or live observation. A focus will be on students developing reflectively through the use of supervision.

  • Prerequisites: successful completion of COU 710, COU 721 and COU 732

COU 748 - Principles of Assessment in Counseling (3)

Using a multicultural emphasis, this course provides an introduction to the purposes, concepts, and techniques of assessment, including how assessment information is used in counseling and how it is communicated to others. Includes a review of foundational statistical concepts, an overview of assessment procedures, ethics, and legal implications. Includes tools and procedures for assessment of intelligence and ability, aptitude, development, personality, educational, and clinical issues. Note this course does not cover vocational and career assessment.

  • Prerequisites: Counseling Major Only

COU 753 - Group Psychotherapy (4)

This is an introduction to the theory and practice of group counseling and psychotherapy, with application to group work with deaf individuals. There are didactic and experiential components in this course which provide students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of group development, dynamics, and counseling theories; group leadership styles; group counseling methods and skills; and other group approaches. To obtain real-life group experience, students are required to participate in a 15-hour process group experience led by another instructor.

  • Prerequisites: COU 710 and COU 732

COU 765 - Crisis and Trauma Counseling (2)

This course addresses the impact of crises, disasters, sexual assault and other trauma-causing events on individuals, schools, and communities. Students will be provided with opportunities for examining trauma and crisis counseling in school and community settings, including trauma and crisis theories; cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurological effects associated with trauma; assessment strategies for clients/communities in crisis; and brief, intermediate and long-term culturally appropriate approaches to crisis and trauma intervention.

  • Prerequisites: Completion of COU721 and COU732

COU 792 - Internship I in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (8)

This course is the second in a sequence of practica and is one of the major experiential components of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. Students build on the knowledge and skills gained in COU 742 and increase the scope and complexity of their counseling skills repertoire. They advance their counseling skills to include clinical intake interviews, individual therapy, group therapy, couples/family therapy, assessment, case management services to clients, record keeping, and information and referral. Counseling skills will be reviewed by supervisors using student self-report, recorded sessions, and/or live observation. A focus will be on students continuing to develop reflectively through the use of supervision.

  • Prerequisites: COU 742

COU 794 - Internship II in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (8)

This course is the final in a sequence of practica and is a major experiential component of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. Students build on the knowledge and skills gained in COU 792 and continue to increase the scope and complexity of their counseling skills repertoire. They continue to advance their counseling skills with clinical intake interviews, individual therapy, group therapy, couples/family therapy, assessment, case management services to clients, record keeping, and providing information and referrals. Students will become proficient in using a variety of professional resources to enhance the provision of mental health services, such as screening instruments, technologies, print and non-print media, professional literature, and research information. Counseling skills will be reviewed by supervisors using student self-report, recorded sessions, and/or live observation. A focus will be on students continuing to develop reflectively through the use of supervision.

  • Prerequisites: COU 792
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