Counseling@Northwestern is an intensive, CACREP-accredited, online Master of Arts in Counseling Program designed for individuals looking to enter the field of clinical mental health counseling. In this program, you will explore the depths and complexities of the psychodynamic perspective, the centrality of the therapeutic relationship, and the importance of therapist self-reflection.
Every Counseling@Northwestern course is developed with ethics, multiculturalism, life span development, advocacy and outreach, and evidence-based practice in mind. This comprehensive groundwork prepares you to become a powerful, well-rounded counselor. Devoted to the personal and professional advancement of aspiring counselors, the online masters in counseling program stands on four pillars of excellence:
- Online Master of Arts in Counseling degree from Northwestern University
- Dynamic clinical training
- Traditional counseling foundation
- Historical perspective
With a strong foundation in psychodynamic theory, Counseling@Northwestern helps you become a reflective practitioner with an acute awareness of your clinical knowledge and skills. You will realize both your strengths and growth edges, and this understanding allows you to be an effective counselor for others.
The faculty at Northwestern University use real case examples in their classes to illustrate the clinical application of psychodynamic theory. Additionally, our clinical supervisors who lead the Reflective Practitioner Group Supervision and Case Conference Group Supervision experiences help you test the theory within your clinical work. Upon graduation, you will not only understand the psychodynamic underpinnings of counseling but also effectively apply those underpinnings to your clinical experiences.
Counseling@Northwestern has two program cornerstones that facilitate this essential counselor development:
1. Emphasis on the self-reflective practitioner
As your therapeutic skills are emerging, you will learn to reflect on your clinical training experience in the supportive environment provided by Counseling@Northwestern. It is through this reflection that you will be able to understand your own processes, identify your personal and professional strengths and struggles, and develop strategies for navigating the therapeutic process. Through the program’s emphasis on the importance of self-reflection, you are able to become a confident and empowered therapist.
The following four Counseling@Northwestern experiences foster your transformation into a self-reflective practitioner:
- Reflective Practitioner Supervision Group: During this Practicum year group supervision experience, you will receive intensive, highly personalized training during your weekly sessions with group supervisors. This training helps you develop an understanding of the different elements of your personal self—your experiences, biases, and personality dimensions—that can inextricably interfere with and influence your relationship with clients, as well as the therapeutic process as a whole.
- Psychodynamic Case Conference Supervision Group: During this Internship year group supervision experience, you will meet weekly with a group supervisor who is a seasoned practitioner. He or she will listen to you as you present your challenging cases and then provide you with case consultation rooted in the psychodynamic perspective. This brings dynamic coursework to life as it is applied to facilitate the therapeutic process. Through the exploration of challenging or difficult cases, you will learn how to assess your therapeutic effectiveness and articulate areas of concern that can be addressed in consultation to increase efficacy.
- Group Dynamics Immersion: In the Practicum training year, students participate in the Group Dynamics Immersion, a three-day group relations conference in Chicago led by Counseling@Northwestern faculty and selected supervisors. The immersion enables students to define their leadership styles, examine any biases they may have in group settings, and understand what roles they take on in groups. After the immersion, students spend the remainder of the Group & Organizational Dynamics course integrating their theoretical and experiential knowledge.
- Capstone Immersion Experience: The Capstone Immersion is a three-day experience taking place at the end of the Internship year just prior to graduation. Part of the Advanced Topics in Clinical Mental Health Counseling course, the immersion gives students the opportunity to present their original research during the Counseling@Northwestern Capstone Research Symposium to showcase the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the program.
2. Comprehensive immersion in clinical work
You will be immersed in clinical work for a total of six quarters throughout your time in the program. Through Counseling@Northwestern’s learning-by-doing model, you are exposed to clinical work while completing complementary academic coursework. At each stage of counselor development, you will be equipped with the clinical skills and knowledge you need to be a successful and effective therapist. Counseling@Northwestern offers to meet the academic needs of all students with various levels of experience in the counseling field, including those entering the field for the first time after a career in another discipline.
Clinical training is divided into the following clinical experiences:
Students will spend nine hours per week at a clinical site, where they will complete 50 hours of face-to-face counseling and receive 100 hours of supervision. Students will meet weekly with their field site supervisor and their Reflective Practitioner Group Supervisor and travel to Chicago to participate in the Group Dynamics Immersion.
Students will spend 20 to 24 hours per week at clinical sites, where they will complete 240 hours of face-to-face counseling and receive 85 hours of supervision and case conference experience. Students will meet weekly with their field site supervisor and their Case Conference Group Supervisor and travel to Chicago to participate in an immersion that focuses on counselor identity and skill development.
By focusing on students’ reflective capacities, Counseling@Northwestern fosters an environment in which you are encouraged to explore the complexities that go along with developing a counselor identity. Graduates of Northwestern’s Counseling Program are then prepared to excel in a variety of fields, including mental health, human services, and academics.
Counseling@Northwestern offers two program options for students at all levels in the clinical training process. Both programs are available full-time and part-time.
When applying, you should choose the program that best fits your experience. The program you select will not affect your admissions decision to Counseling@Northwestern.
The Standard Program is designed for students with an academic or experiential background in psychology or human services, including prior clinical experience. These students are prepared to engage in clinical fieldwork shortly after the program starts. Students in the Standard Program complete 24 courses, comprising 18 standard course hours, three Practicum course hours, and three Internship course hours.
To apply for the Standard Program, you must have some experience in the field. This includes related academic experience (such as an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field), related clinical experience, or other knowledge of the mental health profession. Clinical experiences can include volunteer work, internship experiences, or paid employment.
Bridge to Counseling Program
Designed for students with no knowledge of or experience with the mental health profession, the Bridge to Counseling Program is unique to Northwestern. It reflects our appreciation for students who desire a meaningful second career and our commitment to adequate preparation for practice in a challenging and complex field.
Child and Adolescent Specialization
Students in either program may also choose to declare a Child and Adolescent specialization. Specialization courses are included in the total number of courses required for the degree. If you choose the Child and Adolescent specialization, you will also be fully prepared to work with adults.
Contact an admissions counselor to learn more information about each program and discuss which is right for you.
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