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The answers to most questions can be found in the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology Graduate Student Handbook.
A few other question/answers are listed below. In addition, for any other questions please contact the program coordinator: Dr. Michael Murtagh by phone (301 687-4446) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the Personal Growth Experience?
Self-awareness, personal congruence, and continually striving for growth are essential to becoming an effective helping professional. Prior to interning, all students are required to participate in a personal growth experience that has been designed to enhance these qualities. The growth experience may be either individual or group therapy in nature, and must be at least 6 hours in length.
Many students have chosen to remain in therapy beyond the minimum 6 hour requirement. Particularly while interning, students have recognized the need to work through personal issues so these do not interfere with the counseling process. For example, personal therapy may help students identify blocks to growth and areas they have been avoiding. Students learn that they must confront themselves before they can expect clients to do the same. Students who have experienced the effectiveness of therapy techniques during their own counseling have felt more comfortable using these with their own clients. Students also tend to gain a broader perspective of the helping relationship through directly experiencing the role of the client.
Participation in a personal growth experience will be documented by each student writing a separate paragraph in the self-evaluation section of the Report of Internship Activities. This paragraph will be a summary of the personal growth experience. The student is required to describe the type(s) of experience(s) and to briefly discuss the effect of this experience on his/her development as a professional counselor. The written evaluation of the personal growth experience is the means through which faculty monitor students' compliance with this program requirement. You need to complete this requirement no later than the last semester of internship.
Learning About Self
In order to develop competence the counseling student must approach the program ready to learn effectively as well as intellectually. In effect, you will find that learning about yourself and your relations with others, honestly and courageously, is fundamental to becoming an effective helping professional. Thus, throughout this program you should seriously and repeatedly examine and explore the following facets of yourself.
Who am I? How do I relate to others? What are my attitudes toward myself and others? How do each of the above affect my relationships with others and especially with clients, individually and in groups? What are my personal strengths and weaknesses, and how am I going to act on this information about myself? How receptive am I to supervisory feedback?
What do I believe about counseling? What is the role of a counselor? At this time, what kind of a counselor am I choosing to be? What are my academic or knowledge strengths and weaknesses, and how am I going to remedy my weaknesses?
Learning About Clients
You should be constantly working toward greater skill in understanding your clients including the ability to see clients as interdependent with others, view of self and attitudes and feelings toward self; view of others and attitudes and feelings toward others; ways of coping and defending; ways of managing feelings and relationships; needs, assets, and problem behaviors; objectives-personal and situational; preferred ways of moving toward objectives; assets (particularly social support) and problems relative to personal goals; understanding of cultural/environmental context.
Learning About Counselor-Client Relationships
Over and above learning about one's self and better understanding others and their feelings and behavior, the counseling student must develop a here-and-now sensitivity to and understanding of ongoing relationship(s) in one-to-one, group, and family situations. Within the counseling relationship, the counselor must foster collaboration, have a multicultural awareness and be able to attend to his/her own feelings and reactions as well as to the client's in a non-threatened and non-distorting manner. The counselor must learn to approach rather than avoid difficult, sensitive, and painful experiences at those times when the relationship is strong enough to allow this deeper exploration. Above all, the counselor must learn to avoid allowing his/her own needs to interfere with the client's growth or the development of a healthy, constructive client-counselor relationship.
Learning How to Help Clients Learn About Themselves, Their Environment And Their Relations With Others
While this learning is implicit in the earlier sections above, giving some emphasis to this objective should serve to indicate that information seeking and information giving is an important facet of counseling help. Individual assessment in its many forms (interview, observation, testing, etc.), career exploration activities, and consultation skills are a part of this learning objective. Also, the importance of community resources and client advocacy need to be addressed.
Learning About Stability and Change in Human Behavior
The counselor-student will begin learning how human behavior is maintained and how behavior may be changed. This learning will include an understanding of external and internal factors in human learning. These factors include social forces, group norms and pressures, interpersonal payoffs, cognitive consistency, and anxiety-defense dynamics. The counselor's knowledge of behavioral change will be shared with her/his clients. The direction of change as well as the procedures and program for change will ideally be acceptable to, and voluntarily chosen by, the client. However, it is necessary to consider the special needs of involuntary or coerced clients.
Learning About the Helping Profession
The counselor-student will begin to identify with the "helping profession." This process begins early in the program as the individual learns about self in relation to helping others and sees the relationship between the varied learning experiences and the development of a competent professional. The internship is an important stage in this process of professional identification. During the internship, the counselor-student begins to appreciate more fully his/her responsibility to other professional helpers; internalizes the professional code of ethical conduct; and lastly, appreciates the necessity of continuous professional development.
What is the student-faculty ratio?
The student-faculty ratio is about 7 to 1. This ratio insures individualized attention and close supervision of students.
What are graduates of this program currently doing?
Graduates from this program are currently working as community health specialists, mental health counselors, marriage and family counselors, crisis counselors, drug and alcohol counselors, college counselors, and in supervisory positions in a variety of settings or attending Ph.D. programs. Five to ten percent of graduates decide to continue their education at the doctral level, most in Ph.D. or Psy.D. clinical or counseling programs. We strongly recommend that students engage in research at FSU if they intend pursuing doctral level study. Research opportunities with faculty are available, and should be started early in student's careers at FSU.