July 3, 2018 | Katherine Adams
Interested in a career promoting mental health and social justice? University of Houston-Clear Lake has a new degree plan specifically aimed at graduate students who would like to become Licensed Professional Counselors: the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, accepting enrollment effective Aug. 20, 2018.
“Till now, UH-Clear Lake College of Education has offered a Master of Science in Counseling with clinical mental health and counseling concentration, a 48-credit hour degree plan,” said Associate Professor and Coordinator of Counseling Dilani Perera-Diltz. “The Texas Licensing Board of Counselors requires the program to be 60 credit hours, so now we are offering students the option to move to the new degree program, which is a direct path toward the LPC,” she said. “It’s now no longer a concentration. It’s a full degree.”
Perera-Diltz said that students wishing to obtain licensure must move to the new program. “Those who are already enrolled in the previous program can continue, but since fall 2017, we have not enrolled new students in that program.”
In this new degree plan with licensure, Perera-Diltz said that students become eligible to work with a broad scope of mental health issues, ranging from offering strategies and support to people who are experiencing life’s hurdles, to people who are coping with serious mental disorders.
Licensed Professional Counselors can assess, diagnose, and treat people struggling with mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. “As a graduate of this program, students will know how to encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences, help them process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes, and guide clients through the process of making changes in their life,” Perera-Diltz said.
At UHCL, students are taught by full-time faculty who are LPCs themselves, she continued. “Class sizes are small, and courses include valuable experiential activities in which they get to learn about the needs of certain parts of the population in the community.”
She added that the Counseling Program’s honor society, Upsilon Chi Lambda, is very active and promotes a variety of other activities for students to gain additional community service experience.
“Once a student passes the exam and completes the LPC internship, he or she can work anywhere where mental health services are needed,” Perera-Diltz said. “The license is very broad and that is attractive to students—they can specialize in an area that they choose. The crux of counselor training is to attend to the life span development and multicultural foundation of all people so that they can work among people from any age or cultural group.”
LPCs are qualified to work collaboratively with health professionals including psychologists and psychiatrists to provide therapeutic care at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, substance abuse treatment centers, community agencies, government organizations and corporations.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 19 percent growth through 2024 in this field. “The need for mental health care is very high in Texas, so there should be no difficulty in finding a job for those who are properly qualified,” she said. “The projected job growth is much higher than the average for all occupations.”
UHCL’s College of Education is accepting enrollment in this program starting fall 2018. For more information about the counseling program, visit www.uhcl.edu/education/departments/counseling-special-education-diversity/counseling.