Professional Mental Health Counseling - Specialization in Addictions Mission and Program Objectives

Mission Statement

The Professional Mental Health Counseling program prepares highly skilled, ethical, and compassionate mental health professionals grounded in a commitment to social justice.  

We emphasize the client-counselor relationship, creative and experiential modalities, and a thorough understanding of mental health issues across the lifespan. The curriculum reflects multiple theoretical perspectives with guidance to support students in developing their own framework for community and clinical practice. 

Our program creates a transformative environment where students emerge with an understanding of their own social locations and the role of power, privilege and difference within institutional, social, intimate, and therapeutic relationships. We have a commitment to social justice which is embodied in four focus options across the curriculum: counseling with LGBTQQI clients, feminist counseling, mind/body/spirit/creativity and community/professional advocacy.

Program Objectives
  1. Students develop knowledge in the eight common core curricular experiences identified in CACREP standards. These include: professional orientation and ethical practice, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, group work, assessment, helping relationships, research and program evaluation, and career development.
  2. Theory and Research to Practice
    Students develop an understanding of a range of counseling theories consistent with a developmental perspective. Students develop treatment plans and interventions consistent with their own theoretical orientation, a critical evaluation of the literature, client mental health needs and goals in counseling, diagnosis, and best practices in the profession.
  3. Clinical Skill (Helping Relationships)
    Students develop therapeutic communications skills, emphasize the client-counselor relationship, and facilitate and manage the counseling process with individuals, families, and groups.
  4. Self as Counselor (Reflective Practitioners)
    Students develop a strong awareness of their own values and worldviews, recognize their own competencies and limitations, maintain openness to supervision, and recognize/acknowledge/remediate personal issues that may impact client care. 
  5. Multicultural Competence
    Students develop awareness of power, privilege, and difference and their own cultural attitudes, beliefs, and affects of social location, and learn strategies for working with gender and gender spectrum issues, diverse populations, ethnic and other non-dominant groups.
  6. Professional Counseling Identity
    Students develop understanding of the history of professional counseling, knowledge of the philosophical foundations of the profession, knowledge of the roles and functions of counselors, professional pride/professional engagement, and knowledge and understanding of professional ethics. Students recognize the importance of career counseling as unique to the counseling profession, and recognize the value of career work in all counseling settings. 
  7. Ethical Practice
    Students commit to and follow professional ethics consistent with the American Counseling Association ethical guidelines. They seek supervision/consultation to resolve ethical dilemmas and take personal responsibility in the event an ethical error is committed. 
  8. Social Justice Advocacy and Community Involvement
    Students develop an ability to recognize the injustices that affect physical, academic, career, economic, and mental well-being of individuals and learn skill sets to act to alleviate such injustices in the society. Students develop the ability to be empowering agents and advocates in service as change agents on the systemic level to better serve underrepresented, marginalized, and oppressed individuals and groups.
  9. Research and Assessment
    Students develop an understanding and skills in the use of research, assessment and program evaluation to inform clinical practice.

We offer the only graduate-level program in mental health counseling and addictions in the Northwest with a research- and evidence-based integrated model for understanding and treating mental health disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addictions. We are unique in our approach to integrating social justice throughout our curriculum and supervised training. 

Once students have completed foundational coursework, they engage in intensive clinical training that includes four semesters of practicum and internship at both our own clinic, the Lewis & Clark Community Counseling Center, and a community agency. This extensive, supervised clinical experience assures that students have a diverse and intensive practice experience under the guidance of highly trained faculty.

Our program uses a cohort model that fosters educational continuity, professional identity, and collaborative learning. 

We recognize the challenges facing mental health counselors who work with diverse and complex addiction-related behaviors. We therefore offer specific coursework that prepares students to work with clients who have alcohol and drug addiction, disordered eating, and problem gambling, and help students prepare toward certification in one or more of these professional areas.

Our curriculum addresses the need for today’s mental health and addictions counselors to integrate an increasingly diverse range of knowledge across many fields to be prepared to meet the needs of clients. Key areas of focus of the curriculum include, but are not limited to: biological influences, socialization processes, social equity and contextual issues, psychological processes, and existential/spiritual factors. Given the impact of social equity on well-being, we encourage students to develop knowledge and sensitivity around issues of family, culture, ethnicity, abilities, sexual orientation, gender, and spirituality.