Counseling@Northwestern Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Nate Perron

Dr. Nate Perron is a full-time core faculty member and director of clinical training for the Counseling@Northwestern program. During his time as a professional counselor, he has worked in a variety of mental health settings for over 12 years, teaching for more than 8. As the director of clinical training for the program, he ensures that students receive the best possible support during their field training so they can excel as counselors. 

Perron recently completed an interview with OnlineCounselingPrograms where he discussed the Counseling@Northwestern program, the importance of clinical training, and the program’s unique approach to online learning. The following are highlights from the interview.

When pursuing an online counseling degree, some students are concerned about the fieldwork experience and support they will receive. How does Counseling@Northwestern help their online counseling students with fieldwork, placement, and support during their clinical experience?

This makes complete sense. I will admit that clinical training can be one of the most stressful components of any master’s in counseling program. I can say that we have devoted much time, energy, and resources into making the clinical training experience here at Counseling@Northwestern as seamless as possible. We have a team of clinical training directors that support students with their hours and placement in both Practicum and Internship. We also have a wonderful placement team that provides support for students to obtain placement wherever they live throughout the United States.

Counseling@Northwestern requires students to complete a 200-hour Practicum. Some other counseling degree programs require 100. Can you explain the benefit of the hourly requirements for clinical training?

A core value of our program is clinical practice. This stems from the stellar reputation of The Family Institute, which has served the northern Chicago area with counseling services and training for decades. It is true that the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) requirements indicate 100 hours are necessary for Practicum, but our program provides more focus on clinical skills and counselor development by extending it over three quarters. This allows students to glean from a number of experiences, both personally and with other students who are placed throughout the country but share the same supervision group.

Does your experience as a staff therapist with The Family Institute at Northwestern support your role as director of clinical training? If so, how?

My time as a staff therapist with The Family Institute at Northwestern was truly valuable and productive. I have experienced a high level of collaboration and dedication to excellence throughout the program. I believe it had helped me to appreciate the commitment to clinical expertise that I now pass onto our students in Practicum and Internship. Although I no longer serve as an active staff therapist on-site in order to devote more time to my role as clinical director, I resonate strongly with the values of The Family Institute and continue to infuse them into the fabric of the clinical training experiences of our students online.

Your involvement with the development of the Counseling@Northwestern online program stretches from curriculum planning to CACREP accreditation. What are some core requirements that you believe online counseling programs should have to best prepare future counselors?

It has been a real joy to observe the growth of our program and the addition of wonderful faculty that strengthen and diversify our teaching platform. One key element of any program is the responsiveness and attentiveness of faculty to student needs. This is especially true with online programs because we cannot simply bump into students in the hall for a quick conversation. We have to be vigilant with responding to student questions and let them know when we don’t have the answers. As a program, we have continued to develop a greater and more meaningful organization that streamlines this process for students.

To read Dr. Perron’s full interview, visit