Choosing a graduate program in clinical mental health counseling is an important step in your life and career
You may be asking, how do I make a good choice and end up in a program that will prepare me for my future? Or, why should I consider Western Seminary's counseling program? To help you with these questions, we've put together some important questions to consider.
Is your program approved by the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists?
Our program is approved by the Oregon Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists. Our graduates automatically meet the educational standards for the Oregon Board. Western is also regionally accredited.
Why is this important? Programs that lack Oregon Board approval are not required to abide by the quality standards set forth by the Oregon Board. Also, licensure for grads of non-approved programs is more complicated. Regional accreditation is separate from OBLPCT approval. Find out more about licensure at the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists.
Will your program help me to be competitive in tomorrow's job market?
Western graduates are prominent in the community working in community mental health agencies, churches, residential treatment facilities, schools, non-profit counseling agencies, and for-profit agencies. A number of our graduates now teach in other counseling programs, demonstrating the quality of our training. We are confident that if you ask clinicians in the community you will find our reputation to be excellent.
What are the qualifications of the faculty?
Western's core faculty have a combined 75 years of counseling experience with a wide range of populations. Not only will the faculty be training you for the counseling profession, but they will also be connecting you with their extensive networks in the field. Dr. Kay Bruce, program director, has her Psy.D. and is licensed in both Oregon and Washington as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Dr. Norm Thiesen has his Ph.D. and is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon. Dr. Liz Wosley-George has her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Psychology and is licensed in both Oregon and Ohio. In addition to their counseling credentials, many of our counseling faculty have earned an advanced theological or ministerial degree. At Western, not only will you have access to our four core faculty members, you will receive specialized training from adjunct professors who are experts in the counseling field, and personal attention from our Bible and theology professors. Students seek out their professors for mentoring, advising, and even occasional BBQs at their homes. Stop by or schedule a meeting; they'd love to talk!
Will I be trained to integrate my faith with my counseling practice?
Western's core faculty members are dually trained at the graduate level in Bible/theology and in the behavioral sciences. Students receive advanced theology and Bible training. At Western, we don't teach students what to think, but how to think. It is a high responsibility to represent Christ in the context of professional counseling. We are proud to produce graduates who are grounded in their Christian worldview, value the transformational power of the Gospel, and work at a high standard of professionalism in the counseling field.
What experience will I get during the program?
We take an experiential approach to counseling because it's difficult to learn about counseling just by sitting in a classroom. Students spend 5 semesters working at internship sites, as early as your second semester in the program, and average 390 client contact hours during the program.Why is this important? The Oregon Board requires 280 client contact hours and two semesters of experience, but will count up to 400 hours of pre-graduate client contact hours toward licensure. Many programs simply meet the minimal requirement. Accruing more clinical hours during your degree program can speed up the time toward licensure after you graduate. The number of contact hours and the type(s) of internship experience you obtain while in school will also, in part, determine how competitive you will be for jobs.
How long will it take to complete my degree?
It will take an average of three years to complete your degree at Western Seminary. We believe that short cuts don't pay off. Our program offers scheduling flexibility, permitting students the freedom to create their own timeline. We encourage students to take the program at a pace that allows them to personally apply the material they are learning and to develop their professional identity as a counselor. All of our courses occur on Monday, giving students the freedom to balance other areas of life, including internship, work, family, and social life. A good counselor is one who evidences personal fitness mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
Why does this matter? Some programs offer "condensed" teaching formats such as one evening a week. Applicants should consider whether they will actually get the training they need in such a short time. Your degree is an investment in yourself and your clients. Be confident that you will be prepared.
Will I be ready for the national exam and state licensure?
Our program prepares students for licensure in most states. Over 99% of our graduates have passed the National Exam on their first attempt. The program utilizes the CPCE exam as both a clinical comprehensive exam and a practice exam for the National Counselor Exam. As a GSA-NCC testing site, our students can take the national exam during their last semester of the program before they graduate.
Learn more about your particular state's licensure requirements at the National Board for Certified Counselors State Board Directory.