The School Counseling concentration in the MS in Counseling Psychology program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This allows our students to receive their professional certification as PreK-12 school counselor. As in all of the concentrations, the school counseling concentration provides a basic foundation in counseling theory and skills with additional coursework that focuses on preparing master-level counselors to work in a school setting.
Our school counselors are introduced to the American School Counseling Association's (ASCA) National Model, based the following areas: foundation, delivery, management, and accountability. As such, they are uniquely qualified to address all student needs—academic, career, and personal/social development. Additionally they are trained to develop a comprehensive program that promotes and enhances student success in PreK-12 settings. Our school counselors come to recognize that through leadership, advocacy, and collaboration, they have the opportunity to promote equity and access to rigorous educational experiences for all students in elementary, middle/junior, and high schools.
First Lady Michelle Obama, as keynote speaker, highlighted the importance of school counselors at the 2014 ASCA convention:
"[O]ur Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released new guidance for students—for superintendents and school principals—and he stated that they can and should use their budgets to create professional development units for school counselors…Because our Secretary of Education knows that every school counselor in this country should have quality, relevant professional development opportunities, end of story."
With this in mind, there have been a number of legislators in PA who have advocated for hiring additional school counselors throughout the state.
The total degree hours required for this concentration is 52 for PreK-12 certificate only, and 60 for the certificate plus Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) requirements.
Prior to 2014, Pennsylvania granted separate certificates for elementary and secondary counselors. Since then, we have had a number of post-graduates who were not dually certified return to receive their PreK-12 school certification. Required courses are determined by a thorough review of a student’s transcript.
- 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).
This is the only concentration that enables a student to function as a certified school counselor in a school setting. Also, students in this concentration are eligible to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). This provides a unique opportunity for graduates to obtain employment in various agencies as well as in schools. It offers the graduate the prospect of considering working in a private practice and collecting third-party insurance payments.
Many of our graduates have been employed as counselors in various school districts and private schools in Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties as well as in New Jersey, including one of our school counselor graduates being hired as the dean of students where she is designing an original counseling program.
Why School Counseling at Holy Family University?
Advocacy is a strong component of our school counseling concentration. It is built into the curriculum and reinforced with opportunities to advocate outside of the classroom, such as trips to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C to lobby for school counseling issues.
Likewise, students have presented their research and advocacy efforts in a number of venues including the ASCA annual conference, the PA School Counseling Association's annual conference, and the PA Counseling Association's regional conference. In order to meet the PA Department of Education's (PDE) regulations, the program includes two additional courses pertaining to working with English Language Learners (ELL; COUN 576) as well as working with students with emotional and learning disabilities (COUN 575).
An additional strength is the dual curriculum, which enables students to be eligible for meeting the requirements to obtain their license as a professional counselor (LPC) as well as their certification as a school counselor. This is unique since they leave the program with marketable skills for employment as a counselor in schools but also in many other areas of mental health since 98% of our students choose to get their license as a Professional Counselor.
Core Requirement (25 Credit Hours)
- COUN 501 Introduction to Substance Abuse (3cr.)
- COUN 502 Career and Vocational Counseling (3cr.)
- COUN 503 Introduction to Counseling & Guidance Theories (3cr.)
- COUN 504 Introduction to Counseling Skills, Laboratory Level I (3cr.)
- COUN 506 Human Development (3cr.)
- COUN 507 Multicultural Issues (3cr.)
- COUN 509 Counseling Practicum (1cr.)
- COUN 520 Research Methods (3cr.)
- COUN 545 Assessment: Theory and Practice – A Life Span Approach (3cr.)
Required Courses for Specialty Area (27 credit hours)
- COUN 517 Professional Orientation and Ethics for School Counselors (3cr.)
- COUN 510 Group Counseling for School Counselors (3cr.)
- COUN 511 Computers & Technology in School Counseling (3cr.)
- COUN 541 Administration of School Counseling Programs (3cr.)
- CNDS 560 Internship in Counseling Psychology I – School Counseling (3cr.)
- CNDS 561 Internship in Counseling Psychology II – School Counseling (3cr.)
- COUN 562 Professional Seminar: Culminating Experience (3cr.)
- COUN 575 Counseling Students with Learning, Emotional and Intellectual Disabilities (3cr.)
- COUN 576 Addressing the Needs of English Language Learners (3 cr.)