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Forensic Mental Health Counseling, M.A.

Why Pursue a Masters Degree in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

A concentration in forensic mental health will prepare students for jobs that address the mental health needs of offender populations. Our curriculum is designed to offer specialized training in theory, assessment, and treatment, and will provide students with applied experience in criminal justice settings. Students interested in research or in continuing their graduate education will have the opportunity to complete a thesis or independent study project. Upon graduation, students will be prepared for licensure in mental health counseling.

Requirements for Forensic Mental Health Counseling, M.A.

Master of Arts in Counseling

The Department of Psychology offers a 60-credit graduate program in counseling designed to serve the student who plans to enter the applied fields of counseling after receiving the M.A. The program offers four specialized tracks: school counseling, school adjustment counseling , forensic mental health counseling and mental health counseling.

    Program Policies

    The M.A. program must be completed within seven years of the first course counted toward the degree. Since courses are offered in a sequence rather than each semester, planning with advisors is imperative. Upon acceptance into the program, the student is assigned an advisor who will assist in planning a program to fit individual needs. There will be continual evaluation during the course of study with students apprised of their progress. A favorable evaluation is necessary for continuation in the program. The granting of the degree is based on professional competence, completion of the program of study, and satisfactory performance in a comprehensive exam or professional portfolio.

    To accommodate students who work and/or have other substantial demands placed upon their time, courses are offered during the evenings and/or late afternoon. Important exceptions to this schedule are the Pre-practicum, Practicum and Internship experiences. While some placements permit flexible scheduling, many place restrictions on scheduling. Since these experiences are an essential component of counselor training, students must plan for the flexibility that will allow them to complete these requirements.

      Dispositional Assessment

      Candidates will be subject to an ongoing dispositional assessment coordinated by the faculty advisor in collaboration with cooperating course instructors, faculty supervisors, and site supervisors. In order for a candidate to advance academically from semester to semester, advance to a Field Placement or graduate with an M.A. Counseling degree, they must hold no unresolved "0" or "-1" scores in their dispositional record.

      Any candidate who fails to achieve and maintain a satisfactory level on the Dispositional Assessment will be subject to review by the Graduate Committee in Counseling who may determine that the candidate can proceed without intervention or may work with the candidate (or provide a designated faculty member to work with the candidate) on a remedial plan. The Graduate Committee in Counseling may also decide the candidate is not eligible to proceed academically or proceed to Field Placement. If a candidate's assessment displays "0" or "-1" scores, the Graduate Committee in Counseling may remove them from a Field Placement.

        Admission Requirements

        Admissions requirements for MA programs, including Applied Behavior Analysis, Mental Health Counseling, Forensic Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and School Adjustment Counseling  are:

        1. A Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
        2. Applicants with a firm foundation in psychology, education, or related field are highly preferred. [Note - applicants with degrees in unrelated fields may enhance their application through the successful completion of undergraduate courses in Statistics, Child or Adolescent Development, Personality, Abnormal Psychology, Counseling, and/or Behavior Modification, as appropriate to the targeted degree program.]
        3. A 3.0 overall undergraduate GPA.
        4. Applicants must submit the Graduate Admissions application specifying either Applied Behavior Analysis, Mental Health Counseling, Forensic Mental Health Counseling, School Adjustment Counseling, OR School Counseling AND whether they would like to attend full-time or part-time.
        5. Applicants must submit three letters of reference, including at least one academic reference.
        6. Applicants must submit a personal statement that describes (1) reason for interest in the field, (2) assessment of personal strengths and limitations, and (3) goals of graduate study.
        7. Applicants must submit a professional vitae or resume, including information on prior and/or current volunteer and /or employment positions. Applicants to the ABA program should indicate whether or not BCBA supervision is available in their current employment setting.
        8. Applicants selected for interviews must attend a formal interview with members of the graduate admissions committee.
        9. Applicants applying to the School Counseling program or School Adjustment Counseling must submit passing scores in Communication and Literacy Skills portions of the Massachusetts Educators Certification Tests (MTEL).
        10. Applicants may  transfer in up to 6 graduate credits toward their degree program, assessed following successful matriculation. These transferred courses may not count toward BACB-approved core courses in the ABA program.
        11. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) are required to be taken within the past five years for Applied Behavior Analysis, Mental Health Counseling and Forensic Mental Health programs only.  Alumni of Westfield State University who graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher are exempt from this requirement.
        12. In extraordinary circumstances, one or more of the above requirements may be waived by the graduate admissions committee.

        The closing date for receipt of all admissions materials is February 1st.

        Notice of acceptance will occur on or about April 15th for study beginning the following September.

        Due to the competitive natures of these programs, we require a nonrefundable program deposit of $150.00 within 10 days of acceptance. This deposit is used to ensure your space in the program. The deposit is applied to your first registration as a matriculated student in the Fall semester immediately following your acceptance. If we do not hear from you within 10 days, we will assume you have selected an alternative direction, and we will close your matriculation.

          Forensic Mental Health Counseling-60 credits

            Required Courses- 48 credits

            • PSYC 0522 - Theories of Counseling
            • PSYC 0524 - Counseling Basics with Supervision Practicum hours
            • PSYC 0610 - Principles and Practices of Psychological Testing
            • PSYC 0615 - Psychopathology: Diagnosis & Treatment of Adults
            • PSYC 0620 - Dynamics of Group Counseling Practicum hours
            • PSYC 0621 - Basic and Applied Research
            • PSYC 0624 - Advanced Counseling with Supervision Practicum hours
            • PSYC 0630 - Advanced Developmental Psychology
            • PSYC 0632 - Psychological Theories of Criminal Behavior
            • PSYC 0637 - Forensic Counseling: Assessment
            • PSYC 0638 - Forensic Counseling: Treatment
            • PSYC 0641 - Ethics and Standards in the Mental Health Profession
            • PSYC 0645 - Counseling Diverse Populations
            • PSYC 0680 - Evidence Based Therapies in Mental Health Counseling
            • Additional PSYC 06XX Forensic Counseling Elective
            • *Practicum hours counted toward LMHC licensure are included in these courses.

            Internship Requirements- 12 credits-600 hours

            • PSYC 0690 - Internship (Mental Health and Forensic Mental Health Counseling) Internship