The Department of Counseling prepares graduates to be multiculturally competent professional mental health or school counselors, able to work skillfully with deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing clients of diverse backgrounds in a variety of settings. Our training models emphasize the development of cultural self-awareness, sensitivity, knowledge, and skills essential to becoming effective and ethical practitioners who are able to influence individual, group, organizational, and systemic changes that promote health and well-being for all persons in the context of social justice and multiculturalism. Faculty members are committed to promoting interpersonal values which support our professional relations with others. These values include compassion, self-awareness, genuineness, commitment to social justice, and an authentic appreciation of diversity.
Gallaudet University's Department of Counseling, founded in 1971, prepares highly qualified M.A.-level counselors eligible for licensure as professional counselors in most states. The training provided in this department uniquely prepares graduates to work with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, with or without additional disabilities, by developing a core set of competencies in all students with specializations in school and mental health counseling.
The programs of study are broadly designed to include formal classes and extensive supervised practicum and internship experiences leading to the master of arts degree. The curriculum includes courses from the departments of Counseling; ASL and Deaf Studies; Educational Foundations and Research; and Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences. Elective courses are also available through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. All counseling programs are open to deaf, hard of hearing, hearing, physically disabled, and physically able people who are eligible for admission to the Graduate School. All classes are taught in American Sign Language (ASL).
In addition to the teaching faculty, a large number of outstanding professionals from the Washington, D.C., area lecture and participate in the training programs. Practicum sites are available on and off campus. They include mainstream, day, and residential schools for deaf students as well as public and private mental health agencies serving deaf people. Internship sites are located around the country and include residential schools and postsecondary programs, community-based counseling centers, and mental health agencies.
Federal grant funds, stipends, and tuition assistance have been made available for students in the mental health counseling program through the Rehabilitation Services Administration, and for school counseling majors (including the Summers and Online option) through the U.S. Department of Education.
Successful communication with deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing clients who utilize sign language as their preferred mode of communication requires professional counselors to achieve a minimum ASL proficiency level. Therefore, all Department of Counseling students are expected to demonstrate a required level of proficiency in American Sign Language on the GU-ASLPI (Gallaudet University American Sign Language Proficiency Interview) before being allowed to begin fieldwork.
Full program accreditation continues to be a priority with the Department of Counseling. As a result, graduates of the counseling programs have the opportunity to become fully certified and licensed in their fields after graduation. The MA program in School Counseling is fully accredited by the District of Columbia, the National Council on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC), and the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The MA program in Mental Health counseling earned full CACREP accreditation on its first application in 1992 and, to this day, continues full accreditation status.