APRIL 5, 2012

Master’s in Counseling Psychology Students Become Career-Ready Counselors

Master’s in Counseling Psychology Students Become Career-Ready Counselors
CityU Faculty Member Michael Theisen working at his desk
Program Director Michael Theisen

Are you thinking about becoming a mental-health specialist or counselor? Like most careers, you will need a graduate program that provides you with hands-on experience and updated information. CityU’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MACP) provides students with relevant course work and the training necessary to be ready and well prepared on day one.

“Since I was in high school, I dreamed of becoming a counselor. CityU helped me turn my dream into a reality,” said Reid Stell, a MACP graduate who now has a private practice in Seattle. “Because I was working a full-time job and raising a family, CityU’s program offered me the flexible schedule and convenient internship opportunity that I need to be successful,” Stell added.

When asked about the programs “biggest strength”, Stell singles out the faculty. He said they were the biggest asset to his own and others’ education.

“All CityU instructors work as mental health counselors. Their real-world experience as practicing therapists meant they could provide students with good examples of real case histories that clearly illustrated lessons from our textbooks. Consequently, they could share with us what therapy techniques worked for them with their own clients,” Stell explained.

In talking with MACP instructors, they use teaching techniques that turn their classes into exciting learning experiences that facilitate students’ understanding of abstract psychological concepts.

“The classes were very interesting,” said Alexandra X, a MACP graduate who requested that her last name not be published. “The instructors didn’t just lecture us. We would do mock therapy so that the textbook lessons would seem as real as possible.”

Moreover, CityU instructors employed role playing as a method for fostering emotional growth in students so that they would someday become better counselors.

“The role playing or learning method pushes students to look at themselves. They can see what interpersonal issues come up when challenged with a realistic scenario, such as the kinds of biases they might have to address in order to better serve clients. For example, it is important to know about transference,” said Professor Michael Theisen, director of the MACP program and a full-time faculty member.

“We stress the importance of knowing yourself in order to become a better therapist. Personal growth is in our program’s framework for becoming a better therapist,” Professor Theisen added.

In particular, CityU’s MACP program uses a cohort system to nurture student learning as well as both personal and professional development. That is, students stay with the same group of classmates for every class throughout the entire three-year program.

“The cohort system enables MACP students to build relationships among their classmates. After we became better acquainted with one another, we frequently had conversations about the course work, and thus we were able to learn from each other,” said Laura Fischetti, a MACP graduate who currently works as a therapist for Epic Life Counseling Center.

Fischetti further implies that the benefits of the CityU cohort system can have the potential for longevity:

“I still have friends from my cohort after graduating. In fact, there is a small group of us who still meet once a week as a kind of learning support group. We discuss client cases, and we get valuable input from each other on how to improve as therapists.”

The smaller class sizes of the CityU MACP program also means that students benefit from their instructors’ personal attention.

“Our classes are all mixed mode. While 80 percent of the material and interactions occur in the classroom, 20 percent of the work takes place online,” Professor Theisen explained.

“This format gives all of the students a chance to express their views, even if they are quiet or non-assertive in the classroom. This means that I get to interact with all 15 students, so everyone feels included in the class,” he adds.

Recent MACP degree earners seem to agree with Professor Theisen’s perspective that students receive personal attention from their instructors. For example, Alexandra asserts that it’s the faculty members’ devotion to student learning that distinguishes the CityU MACP program from that of other schools.

“The thing I would tell prospective students about CityU is that students are really taken care of,” Alexandra X said.

She added the following:

“The faculty bent over backwards in terms of helping students to become successful. For example, one teacher brought me an article that I was unable to obtain. It was the personal touch that you are not going to get in a bigger school.”

In addition, CityU’s MACP program has the institutional ties to mental health agencies that enable it to provide students with clinical experience before they graduate. CityU has approximately 45 affiliates, ranging from Community Mental Health Agencies and Family Services providers to Department of Corrections Facilities. Therefore, students will be well prepared to apply for a Washington state associate license and to work toward their licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

For more information about CityU’s MACP program you can request information or go here


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