The Master of Arts in Counseling/Addiction Studies Certificate Degree Program


Program Overview

The Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling program prepares practitioners of personal integrity and spiritual maturity to provide effective, ethical, culturally inclusive, professional counseling from a Christian worldview. The program prepares Christian counselors with the knowledge, skills, and insight needed to practice in family service agencies, mental health clinics, residential and outpatient treatment programs, counseling centers, public and private clinical counseling settings, church and parachurch organizations.

Western's counseling program incorporates an integrative approach from a biblical worldview that seeks to understand, explain, and treat emotional, relational, behavioral, and spiritual problems that people face in life. The program places an emphasis on theological reflection and spirituality as they relate to personal development and the therapeutic process.

Four major areas of study are blended in the MA program: biblical, theological, counseling, and spiritual integration. A wide variety of teaching methods are utilized to assist individuals with differing learning styles emphasizing learning by doing. Each student spends three or more semesters of clinical experience in practicum positions working with clients in the community. Additionally, personal examination and reflection is a significant part of the program and is emphasized in a variety of settings, including small group practicum/internship classes and mentoring relationships with faculty. In these settings, students are challenged to reflect upon the practical application of theory and what meaning it has for them personally and professionally. Overall, students are trained to master the art of counseling from a biblically-informed worldview.

The purpose of the Addiction Studies Certificate program is to prepare practitioners of personal integrity and spiritual maturity who will provide effective, ethical, culturally inclusive, professional addiction counseling from a Christian worldview. The program provides specialized knowledge and professional skills for a wide range of addiction counseling professions and ministries with special emphasis on the treatment of chemical dependency. This curriculum is specifically designed to prepare individuals to test for certification under the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC & RC) through application with its affiliated state organizations (CCAPP). (Since requirements for certification or licensure differ between agencies and organizations, individuals are advised to seek additional information on certification and/or licensing with the agency or organization they wish to pursue.)

Western Seminary’s Sacramento and San Jose MA in Counseling specializing in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, while not CACREP accredited, is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as meeting requirements for both a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) license and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) license in California. The Addiction Studies Certificate Program in Sacramento and San Jose is also approved by the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP). The Addiction Studies Certificate may be completed as a track within the MA in Counseling: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Specialization or as a stand-alone certificate program of 30 credits. For the MCFC specialization, students must complete a clinical experience of 700 hours including at least 280 direct contact hours.

Sacramento and San Jose courses are held at convenient times for working adults. The MA in Counseling degree program is designed to be completed within three years. Courses are sequenced strategically to maximize academic achievement, personal growth, and the integration of counseling and theology.

Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

The Master of Arts in Counseling program aims to:

  • Equip counselors for work with individuals who have mental health issues and for counseling with individuals, couples, children, and families who have relational issues.
  • Integrate biblical and theological foundations with the insights of counseling theory and the use of counseling interventions.
  • Promote growth in Christian maturity in students, demonstrated through effective interpersonal relationships.
  • Prepare individuals for state licensure and professional practice.

The student learning outcomes for the Master of Arts in Counseling are built upon three basic characteristics that Western Seminary desires for all counseling graduates: Character, Conviction, and Competence. Thus, the Master of Arts in Counseling Program endeavors to prepare students of integrity to who demonstrate:

  • Spiritual Growth: Students demonstrate spiritual maturity by applying biblical truth to life and ministry resulting in gospel-centered spiritual growth and transformation. (Character)
  • Theological Discernment: Students employ advanced theological thinking that integrates a gospel-centered worldview with best counseling practices. (Conviction)
  • Interpersonal Skills: Students display authentic, Christ-like, sensitivity toward self and others. (Character)
  • Counseling Skills: Students demonstrate competence by utilizing a breadth of skills and techniques that are culturally inclusive and consistent with current clinical research. (Competence)
  • Professional Practice: Students apply their training to internship tasks, engaging cooperatively in the supervision relationship and in accordance with the ethical standards of the profession. (Competence)

Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Seminary, applicants for the combined MA and certificate program are expected to present an accredited baccalaureate degree (or its equivalent) with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale), including a breadth of liberal arts. Applicants who do not meet these general academic requirements may petition the Admissions Committee for consideration. A recommendation from the applicant’s pastor and three personal recommendations regarding the applicant’s Christian character and leadership potential also are required.

Entering counseling students are expected to bring a foundational knowledge of psychology. Proficiency in this foundational knowledge will be confirmed through a readiness exam, required of all incoming counseling students. If deficiencies are indicated, remedial work will be required during the first semester of study. Counseling students may satisfy these deficiencies in one of the following two ways: Complete the appropriate undergraduate course(s) at an approved institution, or complete a recommended course of self-study. The student may not begin the second semester of counseling studies without satisfying proficiency requirements.

Applicants must give evidence of personal character, interpersonal relationships, appropriate goals and motivation, and potential for a future clinical counseling career and ministry. This will include a vital spiritual life, growing and nurturing relationships with people, commitment to a biblical/theological worldview, and vocational aspirations involving the care and nurture of people.

Transfer Credit, Advanced Standing, and Residence Requirements

Upon approval by the program director and the registrar’s office, transfer of up to 12 credit hours of Bible and theology is allowed toward the MA program from graduate institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Transfer of up to 12 credit hours of counseling courses is allowed from a state-approved graduate counseling program. Students must have earned a grade of B or higher for a course to be considered for transfer (courses assigned a passing grade rather than a letter grade will not be considered), and coursework should normally have been completed no more than five years prior to matriculation to Western Seminary. Students may request to be assessed by exam for currency on courses to be transferred that are more than five years old. Transferability of credits earned at Western and transferred to another institution is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

Alternatively, students may receive advanced standing of up to 12 credit hours of Bible and Theology coursework toward their program if they are able to demonstrate current competency in required coursework based on prior study (including parallel undergraduate work or transfer credit that is ineligible for consideration based on age). Consult the registrar’s office for information on eligibility of transfer credit and advanced standing.

Of the 76 credit hours required for the MA in Counseling: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Specialization/Addiction Studies Certificate, a minimum of 56 credit hours must be completed through coursework at Western Seminary, with a minimum of 48 credit hours taken in resident study at a Western Seminary campus.

Degree Requirements

Students may complete their studies in as few as six semesters with a minimum of 76 credit hours required for graduation. The program is designed around a common core of 63 credit hours of counseling coursework, 4 credit hours of biblical studies, 4 credit hours of theological studies, and 5 credit hours of addiction studies.

The Master of Arts in Counseling degree and Addiction Studies Certificate is conferred upon the attainment of certain personal and academic requirements. In addition to the general seminary requirements, degree candidates must (1) give evidence of a genuine Christian character, orthodox belief, and conduct consistent with a God-given call to a position of leadership; (2) complete all courses in the prescribed M.A. curriculum with a minimum grade point average of 3.0; (3) pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam during their final semesters in the program, which is in preparation for national licensure exams; (4) provide evidence of 30 hours of personal counseling during the program; and (5) complete clinical experience hours as required.

All work leading to the MA in Counseling and Addiction Studies certificate programs must be completed within five years from the time of matriculation. Permission to extend the five-year statute of limitation must be granted through submission of an academic petition. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward the degree requirements earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree. Alternatively, new or re-entering students whose prior coursework exceeds the ten-year limit may request to demonstrate current competency by examination up to the advanced standing credit limitations for each degree program as specified elsewhere in this catalog.

Professional Assessment of Candidates (PAC Review)

Western Seminary counseling faculty review each student every six months to ensure progress is made toward a professional identity as a mental health professional. Students who are doing well receive encouragement. If concerns are indicated, members of the PAC Review committee meet with the student to discuss plans for strengthening their academic and professional candidacy. In rare situations, the committee may advise students to develop other vocational goals. This process is intended to encourage students and support them while they develop as counseling professionals.

Master of Arts in Counseling: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Specialization/Addiction Studies Certificate Curriculum Plan

Biblical Studies: 4 credits
BL506 Old Testament Literature for Counselors 2
BL507 New Testament Literature for Counselors 2
Theological Studies: 4 credits
TH506 Theology I for Counselors 2
TH507 Theology II for Counselors 2
Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Specialization (Sacramento and San Jose Campus only) : 63 credits
CN500 Professional Orientation 1
CN501 Clinical Foundations: The Helping Relationship 2
CN502 Psychotherapeutic Systems 3
CN503 Advanced Counseling: Theory and Techniques 3
CN504 Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention 1
CN505 Psychopathology 3
CM506 Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling 3
CN507 Human Life Span Development 3
CN508 Integrative Issues in Counseling 1
CN509 Advanced Integration in Counseling 2
CM511 Family Systems Therapy 3
CM512 Marriage and Couple Counseling 3
CM513 Multicultural Counseling: Theory and Techniques 3
CN514 Research and Program Evaluation 3
CN515 Testing and Assessment 3
CM517 Physiology and Psychopharmacology 3
CM518 Career Development: Theory and Techniques 3
CN519 Addiction Counseling 3
CN520 Group Counseling 3
CN521 Crisis and Trauma Counseling 3
CM522 Child and Adolescent Therapy 1
CM523 Human Sexuality 1
CM530 Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling Practicum 2
CM531 Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Internship I 3
CM532 Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Internship II 3
CM533 Advanced Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling Internship 1
CN561 Comprehensive Clinical Integration Paper 0
CN562 Spiritual Formation for Counselors (every semester) 0
Addiction Studies: 5 credits
Students who are enrolled in the M.A. in Counseling and the Addiction Studies Certificate concurrently may complete the certificate with 5 credits of additional courses as listed below (AC530, AC531, and AC532 are also required if the original practicum and internship coursework was not completed in a context offering addiction treatment). Please consult with the counseling department for program advising.
AC541 Addictive Behavior: Treatment and Counseling 2
AC542 Advanced Addiction Counseling 2
AC543 Addiction Group Dynamics 1