Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling
At BGSP, our students gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed for licensed clinical practice in mental health counseling, plus so much more. With an integrated approach to learning, our mental health program is unique. In addition to providing students with a broad overview of multiple counseling approaches, it specializes in psychodynamic work, teaching students about unconscious factors that impact long-term change.
Graduates are eligible to sit for the NCMHCE (National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Exam) and to apply for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor.
BGSP is accredited by the The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
According to our latest data, 94% of recent graduates from this program are either working in the field or pursuing a higher degree, and 99% of recent graduates who have chosen to take the state licensing exam have successfully passed. Graduates are prepared to practice in a variety of mental health settings. After getting the Masters of Mental Health Counseling degree students become eligible for advanced placement in BGSP’s Doctor of Psychoanalysis program.
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.
Course of Study
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.
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.
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.
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.
- successful completion of the 66 credit curriculum
- 400-hour clinical practicum
- 600-hour internship
- 70-hours of training analysis
- fieldwork case presentation and paper indicating sufficient understanding of case dynamics
Please refer to the program catalog for exact graduation requirements
Time to Program Completion
Students can complete the 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. 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.
Qualifying for Licensure
The Master of Arts in 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. Post-master’s requirements include an additional 3200 hours of clinical experience in an approved setting providing additional hours of supervision, as well as successful performance on the licensing exam. While these requirements are similar to those of other states, applicants and students should check the requirements of the state in which they intend to work. For information on Massachusetts licensing, click here.