In accordance with the program's mission to incorporate academic, experiential, and intrapersonal learning, Loyola University New Orleans’ CACREP accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program offers a carefully chosen curriculum that blends these three components of learning. The overarching goal of the Counseling program is to educate and train students to be ethical, competent, effective, and thoughtful mental health practitioners. The program's objectives include the following:
1. To educate students to be clinically and theoretically competent in the practice of counseling.
2. To ensure that all counseling students are exposed to and understand the ethical principles associated with counseling.
3. To ensure that all students practice in an effective and ethical way.
4. To provide a diverse and enriching collection of training experiences during the course of the student's academic preparation.
5. To encourage students to pursue additional training and advanced certification throughout their professional careers.
6. To pursue creative training methods that enhance student learning while honoring ethical concerns.
Completion of prerequisite course work ensures that beginning students have fundamental knowledge of the range of normal and abnormal human growth and development and possess basic computer utilization skills. The professional counseling primary courses extend knowledge to include an understanding of the range of exceptionalities among young people and/or adults and a sensitive understanding of the nature of our pluralistic society. Within the counseling primary courses, students also learn to conduct and evaluate research and become informed consumers of the research in their professional field. In the core requirement courses, students are introduced to the counseling profession in CNSL 830–Counseling Theories, CNSL 835– Counseling Practice, CNSL 840–Group Counseling, CNSL 864–Ethics in Individual, Marriage, and Family Counseling, CNSL 854–Child Diagnosis and Treatment, CNSL 855–Adult Diagnosis and Treatment, and CNSL 863–Fundamentals of Practicum and Internship. Subsequent required course work will provide students with specialized knowledge, skills and understanding about career counseling, assessment procedures, diagnostics, treatment strategies, group work, lifespan development, multiculturalism, and ethical/legal issues related to professional counseling.
Laboratory or experiential learning is provided early in the student's program, and opportunities to advance and refine counseling skills continue throughout the program. CNSL 830–Counseling Theories, the introductory counseling core course, systematically teaches theory and basic clinical applications. CNSL 835–Counseling Practice builds upon this foundation and presents an opportunity for basic counseling skills and provides students an opportunity to assess their comfort with the role of counselor. CNSL 836–Individual Counseling Skills Lab is completed in conjunction with CNSL 835–Counseling Practice. Students are assigned client–actors to practice their individual counseling skills. CNSL 840–Group Counseling, also taught using the laboratory method, enables students to learn group leadership and facilitation skills. CNSL 843–Group Counseling Skills Lab is completed simultaneously with CNSL 840–Group Counseling. Students have the opportunity to gain hands–on experience facilitating counseling groups with client–actors. In prerequisite laboratory courses, students are first paired with actor “clients” who help the students to practice basic counseling skills. These sessions are videotaped and the student is given direct feedback by the faculty supervisor. Several courses use actors or volunteers to facilitate counselor development.
Other courses in the counseling core and elective courses contain laboratory and experiential components to ensure the continuous blend of the three types of learning. The laboratory learning sequence culminates in the Practicum and Internship when students begin to see actual clients in a clinical setting. The entire sequence provides opportunities for students to observe counseling activities, develop counseling skills, and interact with clients. Students can expect constant feedback and supervision as they develop a unique and effective personal counseling style.
The faculty believes that counselors are more effective when they are able to examine their own values, personal characteristics, motivations, and relationships with others. Students are therefore expected to extend their personal philosophies and become sensitive to their own points of view and ways of dealing with others. Opportunities are provided throughout the program for students to maximize their self-awareness and self-understanding. The faculty believes that self-understanding contributes to personal and professional maturity as well as to the capacity for good judgment.
Students are encouraged to find a counselor and attend individual and/or group counseling during the tenure of their counselor development in the Loyola Counseling Program. Attending counseling as a client facilitates knowledge of self as well as gives the counselor-in-training a deeper understanding of how the process feels from the perspective of the client. Many students find the ‘learning about self’ aspect of counselor development to be difficult, even painful. Having a counselor in place to facilitate the process of self-growth and understanding is very helpful in counselor development as a whole.
Finally, the faculty members believe that personal and professional development are enhanced when close, cooperative relationships exist among students, between students and professors, and among professors. A close working relationship must exist between a student and his or her advisor to facilitate the selection of a sequence of studies that provides optimal preparation to meet the student's specific career goals. Class size and program size are limited to the number of students that can be adequately served to meet the goals of maintaining close relationships, providing quality clinical or lab training, and enhancing self-understanding.
Students are required to sign an Informed Consent at the beginning of their coursework to make them aware that should they disclose information indicating impairment or the potential for harm to clients, they may be required to repeat coursework, to obtain assistance or remediation, and/or terminate their enrollment in the program. Students also must understand that in order to successfully complete the Counseling Program at Loyola University New Orleans, they will be expected to demonstrate academic competence and counseling skills appropriate for a counseling intern, including conducting appropriate interviews and sessions with clients, practicing in a professional and ethical manner, and establishing appropriate relationships with clients to facilitate client progress. Failure to attain such skills may result in students being required to repeat coursework or be dismissed from the program.