Correctional Counseling in the MS in Counseling Psychology program is a specialty that offers a variety of employment opportunities for counselors who want to work with the offender and victim advocacy populations. It also offers an opportunity for criminal justice students to expand their passion to include rehabilitation services for offenders and their families. Correctional treatment offers a number of cognitive-behavioral treatment programs to address a variety of issues, with a primary focus on the mental health of offenders and inmates. Particular areas of focus include substance abuse, relapse prevention, DUI offenses, criminal thinking, domestic violence, and anger management. These treatment programs are geared for specific populations including adults and juveniles as well as male and female offenders. Various therapeutic communities within correctional facilities have implemented Correctional Counseling programs with measurable success in terms of changing criminal thinking and reducing recidivism rates. Departments that have seen success include drug courts, pretrial service agencies, and probation and parole offices. These programs have also been implemented by all levels of correctional settings, from large federal pretrial service programs to smaller, progressive municipal programs.
Students completing the Correctional Counseling concentration will, as a part of their degree program, complete all the educational requirements to sit for the National Counselor Exam. Students completing this concentration will also, as a part of their degree program, complete all the educational requirements to apply for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). This concentration provides a basic foundation in counseling theory and skills with additional coursework in criminological theory, victimology, and correctional counseling practice. The program prepares graduates for success in a wide array of settings including, but not limited to, federal and state prisons, court clinics, forensic psychiatric units, child advocacy centers, reintegration programs and other institutional and community-based correctional programs.
The total degree hours required for this concentration is 60. This concentration requires a 600-hour internship, a 100-hour practicum, and mandatory faculty mentoring/advising meetings.
Our program also allows those professionals who have completed a Master's degree in Counseling or related mental health profession and are interested in a post-master's specialization in correctional counseling as few as 12 credit hours.
- Holy Family University's Counseling Psychology graduate employment rate in the field has averaged 91% over the past 4 years.
- Holy Family University Counseling Psychology students have an 86% first time pass rate on the licensure exam (NCE) and a 98% first time pass rate on the school counselor exam (Praxis).
The job opportunities available for a student with a graduate degree in Counseling with an emphasis in correctional/rehabilitation counseling are varied. The job outlook for correctional treatment specialists is expected to grow by 18%, which is above the national average of 11% for all occupations. Related areas of work may include substance abuse and domestic violence counseling as well as probation, pretrial services, and criminal investigations. Job duties may include developing rehabilitation plans to re-enter society, evaluation of inmates using questionnaires, and psychological tests and planning education and training to improve offender's job skills.
Increased demand for correctional counselors can be attributed in part to growing prison populations. In some states, prison policy is being reexamined in light of budget concerns, leading to models with potential for an increased emphasis on rehabilitative services and, in turn, counselors, as states try to decrease the expenses of holding offenders in prison for longer than necessary. Private contracting is becoming a growing trend in correctional mental health and specifically in Pennsylvania. With the advent of private contractors in prisons, increased community-based services, and prevention programs, the need for Masters-level clinicians as supervisors and mental health provision is growing. We are preparing students for career paths, not just jobs. It will also be appealing to those in corrections now that want to move up to supervising or directing their own programs.
Why Correctional Counseling at Holy Family University?
Holy Family University has long-standing relationships with correctional facilities and programs in the Philadelphia area, with excellent internship placements in county, city, and state facilities. Our correctional faculty work in correctional settings and provide real work experience to the training of counselors. This program emphasizes advocacy and the concepts of restorative justice in working with offenders and victims. Students also have the advantage of studying side-by-side with Criminal Justice Master's students in some of their coursework, to experience that important component of work with offenders. The program is also the only one of its kind in the tri-state area, and is the perfect choice for those with a passion for forensics, but need a career choice that has lucrative job opportunities. For example, if one plans to practice as a correctional counselor in New Jersey, then the graduate degree must have "counseling" in the degree, as opposed to psychology, in order to secure correctional mental health jobs.
Core Course Requirements prior to Internship (25 credit hours)
- Substance Abuse: An Introduction to Identification & Treatment (3cr.)
- Career and Vocational Counseling (3cr.)
- Introduction to Counseling & Guidance Theory (3cr.)
- Introductory Counseling Skills: Laboratory Level I (3cr.)
- Human Development: A Life Span Approach (3cr.)
- Counseling Multicultural & Diverse Populations (3cr.)
- Counseling Practicum (1cr.)
- Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences (3cr.)
- Assessment: Principles and Application in Counseling (3cr.)
- Counseling Comprehensive Exam
Required Courses for Specialty Area (30 credit hours)
- Group Counseling (3cr.)
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling (3cr.)
- Psychopathology & Diagnosis Using the DSM (3cr.)
- Advanced Criminology (3cr.)
- Management of Special Populations (3cr.)
- Correctional Counseling (3cr.)
- Victimization and Victim Advocacy (3cr.)
- Internship I – Correctional Counseling (3cr.)
- Internship II – Correctional Counseling (3cr.)
- Professional Seminar: Culminating Experience (3cr.)
Electives (5 credits)