Competent counseling practice is informed and guided by theory. The School Counseling
option emphasizes thorough knowledge of clients' developmental and social contexts.
Theory-based approaches to individual, family, and group counseling are covered in-depth.
During counseling practicum, students are closely supervised in their use of knowledge
about clients and counseling theories. Students counsel school-aged children as well
as adults and elders. Supervised practice continues and is expanded during internship.
Upon completion of their internship, students will have met CACREP standards for training experience in school counseling.
Because school counseling requires high levels of professional maturity and interpersonal skills, the curriculum offers a number of experiential learning courses which are designed to foster students' personal development, relationship skills, and professional orientation. The courses include self-exploration and skill acquisition regarding personal values, professional issues, personal and professional relationships, and group dynamics. The courses offer opportunities for development of cohesive relations between students through self-disclosure, empathic listening, feedback, and role-plays.
School Counseling students take a common core of classes with students from the Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling programs. This core of course work provides all students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be a professional counselor and follows the standards developed by CACREP. In addition, students in the School Counseling option also study aspects of counseling germane to the school setting. These include school counseling program development, working with children and adolescents, professional issues in school counseling, and a 600-hour internship within a school setting. The program focuses on a comprehensive and developmental approach to designing and implementing a school counseling program, and follows the standards developed by the American School Counselor Association. The program emphasis strives to provide the necessary self-awareness, knowledge, and skills for counseling students to become competent and capable professional school counselors.
The program includes a counseling practicum (100 hours) and an internship (600 hours) totaling 700 hours of supervised counseling practice, and course work related to each of the CACREP core areas. Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in Montana must complete a 60-credit master's degree, which includes six credits of practicum and an internship experience, and 3000 hours of supervised counseling experience (1500 hours must be completed after graduation). If school counseling students complete an additional 12 credits they may apply for licensure as a licensed professional counselor with the Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors after completing post-graduate, supervised counseling experience in the field. Students acquire 700 hours of supervised counseling experience prior to graduation, which can be applied to the 3000 hours of supervised experience needed prior to licensure.
In addition to providing a core foundation in the profession of counseling, the School Counseling program promotes the development of a school counseling program based upon national standards developed by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) through a variety of didactic and applied course experiences.
A school counseling program is comprehensive, developmental, systematic, sequential, clearly defined, and accountable. It is founded upon child and adolescent development, educational philosophy, and counseling methodology. The program is proactive and preventive in its focus. It assists students in acquiring and using life-long learning skills. More specifically, it enhances academics, career awareness, basic work skills, self-awareness, relationship, communication, and life success skills for all students.
Counselors do not work alone. All educators play a role in creating an environment that promotes the achievement of identified student goals and outcomes. The school counselor and school counseling program use a collaborative model to facilitate relationships with teaching staff, administration, families, agencies, businesses, and other members of the community. Working in cooperation with counselors, teaching staff, administration, families, community services providers, and businesses, school counselors establish positive linkages for the benefit of students. School success depends upon the cooperation and support of the family and the entire school community.
As professional educators, school counselors are committed to participate as members of an educational team. They collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to assist students to be successful academically, vocationally, and personally. School counselors must be recognized as indispensable partners of the instructional staff in the development of good citizens and leaders. As schools and communities initiate and establish partnerships to address common concerns, it is important that these efforts are implemented in a manner that facilitates the educational process and the full use of school and other community resources on behalf of children and their families.
Our nation is rich in multicultural diversity. Effective school counseling programs and staff reflect and are responsive to the diversity in our schools and communities. Effective school counseling programs serve all students, and acknowledge that diversity and individual differences are valuable to all. The pro at the community is represented as counseling programs are developed and implemented. Counseling programs help ensure equal opportunity for all students to participate fully in the educational process.
Ed Dunbar, PhD
Asst Professor, Counseling
Anna Elliott, PhD
Asst Professor and Program Leader, Mental Health Counseling
Kara Hurt-Avila, PhD
Asst Professor, Counseling