Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degrees Can Make a Powerful Impact
By Nicole Roe, Marketing & Strategic Content Writer, Hodges University
To the young girl facing anxiety, to the man struggling to deal with financial obligations, to the woman desperate to resolve marital issues, and to the couple needing help with their child’s behavior, you are not alone. The struggles of today are real, and the benefits of a degree in clinical mental health counseling (CMHC) are many – all of which serve to impact the lives of others.
According to the American Mental Health Counselors Association, “Clinical mental health counseling is a distinct profession with national standards for education, training and clinical practice. Clinical mental health counselors are highly skilled professionals who provide flexible, consumer-oriented therapy.”
At Hodges University, students who enroll in the clinical mental health counseling graduate program receive the necessary knowledge and skills to work with individuals, families, groups and the community. While specializations vary with each student, the program prepares graduates and assists them in becoming eligible for licensure as a mental health counselor in Florida.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of mental health counselors is projected to grow 20 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.” Additionally, the mental health counseling profession is expected to grow 27 percent in the State of Florida.
Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Although it is important to recognize and understand counseling is about helping and making a difference in the lives of others, prior to entering the program, students should ask themselves the following questions:
- Am I looking for a job that provides variety and challenges?
- Do I enjoy sorting out, understanding and addressing challenges?
- Is it my desire to help improve the community and its members?
- Is my ultimate goal to receive professional licensure and establish myself in a counseling career?
Students who answer “yes” to the above questions can expect to receive instruction that will help to build professional identities and skill sets, as well as awareness to professional ethics. In addition, professors in the CMHC program are experts in their fields. Our professors offer their expertise through speaking engagements and community participation. According to Dr. Mary Nuosce, dean of the Nichols School of Professional Studies at Hodges, during the past academic year, our professors presented on the topics of emotional intelligence, solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing approaches, training bilingual counselors and LGBTQ ally development. In September 2016, Dr. Tom Hofmann, professor of clinical mental health counseling at Hodges, participated in a podcast with The Thoughtful Counselor titled, “Strength-Based Counseling in a Symptom-Based World: A Conversation with Thomas Hofmann.”
Adhering to an experiential style of teaching and learning, Dr. Amber Pope, program chair for CMHC at Hodges, says, “Our goal is to teach through experiences and stretch the comfort zones of our students.” Describing stress management workshops her students delivered to parents at Early Childhood Learning Services, Pope added, “This is a type of opportunity where students can use what they have learned in class and put it into action within the community. It’s a reminder of why they chose this field and they are doing something impactful.”
In an annual report to stakeholders, as of September 2016, Pope reported since the program’s inception in 2011, “44 students have graduated from the program and more than 90 percent our alumni, who were seeking employment as counselors, have acquired full- or part-time employment in a counseling-related area.”
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Online
In January 2017, students will have the opportunity to enroll in the clinical mental health counseling online program. Providing the same level of education and learning, the online program will allow a greater level of access for students who are unable to attend classes on campus. Courses will contain:
- Four synchronous sessions lasting 2.5 hours each
- Each core and clinical course will require an 8-hour residency one weekend each semester, which will require students to attend on campus
In order to participate in the experiential learning activities that are a foundation of the program, students will be required to attend on-site residencies, as practice is essential for the development of master’s level knowledge and skill.
In a survey conducted by current clinical mental health counseling faculty at Hodges, local professionals and national mental health counseling programs believe their students and employees, who are not currently enrolled in a master’s program, would be interested in attending Hodges’ CMHC online program. By offering a completely online program, it would serve as the only accredited online CMHC program fulfilling the need in the state of Florida.
Diversity Efforts in Bilingual Therapy
In addition to the launch of the online program in January 2017, Hodges CMHC faculty members are currently researching and conducting research in an effort to develop strategies to improve education for Hodges’ bilingual students who wish to pursue bilingual therapy.
“We live in a community where, once you become a therapist, it is a strong possibility your clientele will not be native English speakers,” said Liana Calderin, applied psychology adjunct faculty member at Hodges. ““There are two bilingual groups: those who speak English and learn Spanish, and those who speak Spanish and learn English. It is much more than learning the language, their culture and background play a large role.”
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Careers
As students become more engaged in the program, participating in internships and serving learning opportunities, they begin to understand how useful a clinical mental health counseling degree can be when determining a career. Some examples of potential careers include:
- Child Therapy
- Substance abuse counselor
- Mental health counselor
- Family counselor
- Career counselor
- Life coach
In an article titled, “Celebrating 40 Years of AMHCA By Asking: How Do CMHCs Differ?” Dr. A. Keith Mobley, LPCS, NCC, ACSA and American Mental Health Counselors Association president explained, “Although all professional counselors share the same philosophies, training, and even licenses within a specific state, we don’t all practice with the same issues, diagnoses or treatments. CMHCs are also in quite different behavioral health and managed care settings – ones that require unique knowledge, skills and behaviors – than many of our counseling colleagues. We are similar, but not the same, as all professional counselors.”
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm (visited June 30, 2016).
 Shook, M. (Producer). (2016, September 23). Strength-Based Counseling in a Symptom-Based World: A Conversation with Thomas Hofmann [Audio Podcast]. The Thoughtful Counselor. Retrieved from http://thethoughtfulcounselor.com/2016/09/strength-based-counseling-in-a-symptom-based-world-a-conversation-with-thomas-hofmann/
 Pope, Amber. “Annual Report to our Stakeholders and Interested Others.” September 1, 2016. https://www.hodges.edu/academics/academicprograms/masters-clinical-mental-health-counseling.aspx
 Mobley, A. Keith. “Celebrating 40 Years of AMHCA By Asking: How Do CMHCs Differ?” The Advocate Magazine. May 2016. https://issuu.com/readamhca/docs/advocate_may2016-5a/1?e=24703549/36536003