The College of Staten Island recently announced that it is launching its Master of Arts Degree in Mental Health Counseling. The program is currently pending approval by the New York State Education Department, but the College plans to admit the first class of students into the program for the fall 2009 semester.

Mental health counseling is a field within the practice of professional counseling. Many graduates of mental health counseling programs may obtain licensure at the state level, as well as certification by a national accrediting body. According to New York State Law Article 163, the scope of practice may include the following:

“the evaluation, assessment, amelioration, treatment, modification, or adjustment to a disability, problem, or disorder of behavior, character, development, emotion, personality or relationships by the use of verbal or behavioral methods with individuals, couples, families or groups in private practice, group, or organized settings; and the use of assessment instruments and mental health counseling and psychotherapy to identify, evaluate and treat dysfunctions and disorders for purposes of providing appropriate mental health counseling services.”

The settings in which mental health counselors work are diverse and include hospitals, private and public outpatient facilities, schools, agencies, employee assistance, industrial and organizational settings, advocacy, substance abuse treatment facilities, criminal justice, and private practice.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that, within a given year, 26.2% of Americans have a diagnosable mental health disorder. The impact on lives is incalculable and the economic burden is immense. There is a growing demand for professionals dedicated to helping people diagnosed with such mental health conditions.

The New York State Department of Labor reports that the overall employment of counselors is expected to grow “faster than average,” which indicates an expected increase of between 21% and 35% for all occupations through 2012. Furthermore, they report a figure close to 2,500 for the number of average annual openings.

The MA in Mental Health Counseling program at CSI is a 60-credit two-and-a-half-year program. Class sizes are very small, allowing for substantial student-faculty interaction and enhanced learning. The program is demanding and requires full-time study. It is designed to meet educational criteria consistent with New York State licensure requirements, and is based on the model recommended by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Services (CACREP).

The curriculum is composed of 16 courses as well as one practicum and three internship courses. There is a weekly Pro-Seminar for first-year students, and comprehensive exams after the second year of classes.

Each course is designed specifically to fulfill the content area requirements mandated by New York State regulations for licensing. For additional New York State licensing requirements, including supervised practice and examination, students may visit For information on another state, students are directed to obtain information from the designated licensing board for the state in question.

Admission into the program is competitive. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a minimum of five courses in psychology in the following areas: general or introductory psychology, child or adolescent (developmental) psychology, abnormal psychology (psychopathology), personality theory, and research or quantitative methods (statistics). Overall GPA must be at least 3.0. A personal statement, onsite interview (if invited), and onsite writing sample will be required. Applicants must also supply two letters of recommendation from instructors or employers.

CSI recently announced that it is launching its Master of Arts Degree in Mental Health Counseling.