The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling is intended to prepare Christian counselors with the knowledge, skills, and insight needed to practice counseling in the church, non-profit organizations or clinical settings. Western's counseling program asserts an integrative approach which seeks to understand and explain emotional, relational, behavioral, and spiritual problems that people face in life from a thoroughly biblical, or Christian, world view. The counseling program places an emphasis on theological reflection and spirituality as they relate to the therapeutic process.
Four major areas of study are blended in the M.A. program: biblical, theological, counseling, and spiritual formation. The program combines three components. First is a quality classroom experience. A wide variety of teaching methods are utilized to assist individuals with differing learning styles. The second component is the application of the classroom education in a practical setting-the student's internship site. Western emphasizes learning by doing. Each student spends five semesters in internship positions actually doing what they are learning. The third component is the personal examination and reflection that takes place in small group case conferences and mentoring with faculty. In these settings the student is challenged to reflect upon the practical application of theory and what meaning it has for them not only professionally, but also personally.
Graduates of the M.A. program are potentially prepared for such vocations as church staff positions in pastoral counseling, related positions in parachurch organizations, family services, mental health clinics, residential and outpatient treatment programs, and counseling centers.
The M.A. in Counseling may be typically completed in around 3 years and is designed to meet the educational requirements for licensure by the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors.
M.A. in Counseling/M.Div. in Pastoral Counseling
(dual degrees track)
The M.A. in Counseling/M.Div. in Pastoral Counseling dual degrees track program expands the student's preparation in the biblical and theological areas, and adds a substantial ministerial emphasis (see the M.Div. program description). It is designed to prepare individuals for both professional counseling and such ministries as the pastorate, pastoral counseling, family ministries, pastoral care, discipleship, and small group ministries. Additionally, the dual degree track program begins preparation for membership in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.