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MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Each year, BGSP admits up to 20 promising students who share the School’s commitment to deepening insights into human behavior and the unconscious forces that drive us.

In addition to the training provided by typical Master’s programs in Mental Health Counseling, BGSP’s two-year, full-time program provides students with training in powerful psychodynamic methods. As a result, our graduates are able and confident in their abilities to work with a wide range of patients in a variety of settings.

We take great pride in the contributions of our Mental Health Counseling alumni to the lives of the clients they treat as well as to their profession.

Program Objectives

Our small class sizes and individualized, experiential approach to learning  help students get beyond theoretical understanding to the effective, practical application of therapeutic techniques.

In this program, students:

  • Engage in a comprehensive program of coursework in mental health counseling
  • Learn about human development over the lifespan
  • Study a broad range of counseling theories and clinical methods
  • Explore social, cultural, and biological issues related to counseling
  • Learn to evaluate, diagnose, and treat people experiencing a wide variety of concerns
  • Understand ethical issues in treatment
  • Gain a psychodynamic perspective on human development, psychopathology and clinical work
  • Observe and understand their own emotional life as a precursor to understanding others

This program is ideal for the student interested in practicing as a licensed mental health counselor with a psychodynamic understanding. Graduates are qualified to apply for advanced standing in BGSP’s Doctor of Psychoanalysis program and the Doctor of Psychoanalysis program in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture.

Every student has a different experience.
There are no lecture halls at BGSP. Classes are small and the faculty teach to the students in the room. You learn by exploring your own life, so you gain a deeper understanding of theories and techniques than any textbook or lecture can provide.”

Cyriesse Williams,
Master’s in Mental Health Counseling Graduate, 2019

Course of Study

Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of the 66 credit curriculum
  • 400-hour clinical practicum (of which 100 hours constitute the Counseling Practicum)
  • 600-hour counseling internship
  • 150 hours of individual and group supervision
  • 70-hours of training analysis
  • Fieldwork case presentation and paper indicating sufficient understanding of case dynamics

Program Catalog

Please refer to the program catalog for exact graduation requirements

Coursework

Coursework includes theories of counseling, basic and comparative psychoanalytic theory, developmental studies, psychopathology, assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning, ethics and professional practice, and group dynamics.

Practicum/Internship

The first clinical experience is the 400-hour practicum, conducted in a fieldwork setting where students sit with people experiencing psychosis and extremely regressed mental states. This experience, unique to BGSP, provides the opportunity to learn how to develop skills in establishing a therapeutic relationship with people experiencing these states.  The practicum and accompanying fieldwork seminar and supervision foster an ability to read the person’s contacts, responses to stimulation, and symbolic communications while observing the emotional responses induced in oneself. These skills are basic to working with people at all levels of functioning.  Students continue meeting with the three people seen in the practicum placement beyond the 100-hour counseling license requirement, in order to have a long term experience with this population. The Fieldwork Coordinator consults with each student on the field placement practicum selection.

After a semester in the practicum placement, the student begins the internship experience, placed for 15 hours a week in a clinical setting serving adults, children or adolescents, for a total of 600 hours. Group supervision is provided at BGSP; individual supervision with qualified supervisors takes place at BGSP and on site. Placements include clinics, day treatment programs, residential settings, schools, early intervention programs, and substance abuse programs.

Training Analysis

Each student participates in a total of 70 hours of training analysis, working one-on-one with an analyst throughout the program.  The training analysis is an important part of the educational process.  It deepens the student’s understanding of course material through personal experience and helps the student tolerate the feelings aroused by study of the human mind.  It offers a fuller appreciation of one’s own emotional dynamics, increases the student’s access to all emotional states, and increases self-understanding, which is particularly critical for understanding others.  Students complete at least seventy hours of training analysis, typically meeting weekly.

Research

Exposure to scientific thinking and practice in the human sciences helps broaden the student’s understanding of the nature of research, theory construction, and the logic of inquiry. It fosters the ability to think critically, and it enables students to evaluate clinical research. M.A. in Mental Health Counseling students take a research course in which they learn principles of concept formation and research design, and basic research methodology with an emphasis on analyzing qualitative data and outcome research.

Specialize your degree

Child and Adolescent Intervention

Addictions Counseling (LADC license-eligible)

Time to Program Completion

Full time students can complete the 66-credit program in four semesters and one summer if they study full time. Students beginning in the Spring semester will require an additional semester because of internship scheduling.  Many students find it beneficial to slow their pace of study to a part-time schedule, which allows them to more fully integrate the course material, clinical work, personal analysis, and in some cases, outside employment. On average, students typically take three years to complete the program. Program courses meet once per week, primarily in the evening or during the day on Friday.  Students with high curiosity, openness to new experiences, and tolerance for ambiguity tend to proceed more successfully through the program.  Some students postpone the internship until a third year in order to reduce the workload in years one and two.

Licensure

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling provides students with the education and clinical experience needed at the pre-master’s level to meet licensing requirements in the state of Massachusetts.  Graduates are eligible to sit for the NCMHCE (National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Exam) and to apply for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor in Massachusetts and many other states. There are 7 states that may also require additional accreditation from a professional counseling accreditation board (CACREP). Massachusetts does not require this additional accreditation

The State of Massachusetts’s post-master’s requirements include an additional 3360 hours of clinical experience in an approved setting providing additional hours of supervision, as well as successful performance on the licensing exam.

For information on Massachusetts licensing, click here

States vary in their licensing requirements.  Before enrolling at BGSP, students should consult the rules and regulations regarding licensure in counseling for the particular state in which they wish to practice.  To aid in this process, BGSP has researched whether its M.A. program in Mental Health Counseling meets the educational licensing requirements in U.S. states.  Click here for more information.

All states require that licensees graduate from a regionally accredited school, and BGSP is regionally accredited through the New England Commission on Higher Education.

BGSP Advantages

Typical Mental Health Counseling ProgramsBGSP Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Eligibility for licensure and the NCMHCEYesYes
Academic Course Credits60 credits60 credits
Clinical Experience700 hours1000 hours
Hours of Clinical Supervision70 hours150 hours
Training in Psychodynamic MethodsNoYes

Admissions Criteria

At a minimum, applicants to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program are required to have earned a baccalaureate degree from an approved undergraduate institution. Beyond this credential, however, applicants demonstrate through their personal statement and interviews (when invited) their motivation to learn, capacity to understand oneself and others, academic and applied interests, and readiness to engage in studies of unconscious processes.

In order for BGSP to determine academic readiness for graduate level study, applicants submit transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. For those applicants who meet the academic criteria, there will be three admissions interviews scheduled with the faculty.  In addition, applicants who are interviewing are asked to write a spontaneous response to a psychoanalytic text.

International applicants are also evaluated for English proficiency based on their TOEFL or IELTS scores (required) and their performance during the admissions interview and on their writing samples.  Some international students require additional training in writing in a second language.  Newly accepted students are sometimes advised that this training and support will be required in order to succeed in the program, and may choose to register for additional writing support throughout the course of their studies at BGSP.

Graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at BGSP who wish to continue in the Certificate or one of the doctoral programs are required to apply to that program separately. At that time, their readiness to progress into an advanced clinical or academic program is assessed on the basis of interviews and their previous work at BGSP. Acceptance to the clinical doctorate requires successful completion of the Candidacy Entrance Exam. The Candidacy Entrance Exam is not necessary for graduates applying to the doctoral program in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture. 

BGSP does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or socioeconomic status in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and other School-administered programs.

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