Handbook for M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Apply to the office of Graduate Studies. This includes:
- Completing and submitting online the Graduate School Application for Admission form in which the student indicates the degree program in the Department of Counseling and Psychology for which he or she is applying: https://www.tamuct.edu/departments/graduatestudies/index.php
- Submitting current Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (if required). Note: Any undergraduate who obtained a 3.0 GPA or higher is exempt from taking the GRE for university admission to Graduate Studies. However, some programs in the department still require submission of GRE scores.
- Submitting official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate academic coursework
- Writing and submitting a 200-300 word essay addressing career and academic goals
- Note: Admission to the Graduate School does not guarantee admission to a graduate degree program in the Department of Counseling and Psychology.
- Complete the Programs of the Counseling and Psychology Department Application: https://www.tamuct.edu/coe/counseling-psychology.html
- Complete the application process for the program.
- Meet with the Program Coordinator prior to enrolling in any courses in a degree program in the Department of Counseling and Psychology
- Meet with a faculty graduate advisor to complete a degree plan AFTER FULL ADMISSION
- Apply for field work course in the semester prior to enrolling in them (must apply each semester for each course) if required by the program
- Apply to take comprehensive exam
- Apply for graduation and participation in graduation ceremony
Statement of Informed Consent
The graduate degree programs include laboratory and field experiences in counseling, therapy, or psychology. These courses may include practicing counseling, therapy, and assessment skills with student peers; being interviewed by counseling or psychology peers; and practicing newly-acquired and more advanced skills with actual clients at field sites. Important components of student evaluation will include receptivity to the giving and receiving of feedback (from peers, university instructors, and site supervisors) and ability to integrate such feedback into the student’s counseling, therapy, and assessment behaviors. Feedback will include supervisor observations (from course instructors, program faculty, and site supervisors) of any limitations in counseling, therapy, assessment skills, professional practice, and personal qualities and behaviors which may inhibit the student’s therapeutic abilities. Feedback (oral and/or written) will come in the classroom and lab settings, as well as in group and individual supervision settings. Additional meetings with instructor and/or field supervisor may be necessary. Progression through field experiences will depend upon a formative evaluation by the instructor that the student has acquired the skills necessary for the next level. To participate in these experiences, students will sign a Statement of Informed Consent indicating that they understand and agree to conditions for enrollment in the program (see Appendix A).
Statement of Confidentiality
Due to the nature of counseling, therapy, and psychology, and the faculty’s responsibility to educate effective counselors and therapists, students may be encouraged to participate in experiential activities (including group counseling as well as attending and paying for counseling as an outside class activity). Signing a confidentiality agreement, which is included in the appendix of this student handbook, protects student’s rights with regard to self-disclosure (see Appendix B).
Students are subject to the conditions of the department’s retention procedure included later in this guide.
Admission to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
- Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
- Preferred minimum GPA of 3.0.
- Submission of GRE scores.
- Clinical/Work/Volunteer Experience: While specific experience is not required, previous related work experience may make the applicant more competitive.
- Completed Counseling and Psychology Department application.
- Timely submission of admission materials.
Admissions Appeals Procedure
Student admission appeals are handled according to the following guidelines, which are consistent with the University Academic Appeals Procedure: http://catalog.tamuct.edu/registration-records/academic-appeals-procedure/. Extenuating circumstances may cause the University to deviate from the defined time frames. Any question of interpretation or application of this procedure shall be referred to the Office of the Provost.
A student who wishes to appeal an admission decision should ask for a scoring review and written remediation plan from that committee via the Program Coordinator within 30 calendar days of the originating event. The Program Coordinator is expected to give the student a response from the Admissions Committee within 15 calendar days.
If the Program Coordinator is unavailable, if a response is not made within 15 calendar days, or if the student is unsatisfied with the response and wishes to appeal a decision of the Admissions Committee, the student should inform the Department Chair of the appeal in writing within 60 calendar days of the originating event. For an appeal of an admission decision, the originating event shall be considered the written notification of the admission decision to the student until the appeal process concludes. The written appeal must include the following:
- Name, address, email, telephone number, and University Identification Number (UIN) of the student.
- Date of action against the student and by which faculty member/committee.
- Nature of admission action and copy of applicable materials including the written remediation plan.
- Circumstances which merit review.
- Signature of student and date submitted.
The Department Chair is expected to give a response within 15 calendar days of the filed appeal.
A student unsatisfied with the decision of the Department Chair may appeal in writing to the College’s Academic Appeals Committee within 15 calendar days of notification of the decision from the Department Chair. The minimum standard for each college's committee is three faculty members, who were not serving on the Admissions Committee when the admission decision under appeal was made; each college is responsible for developing a specific and nonbiased committee structure. After hearing both sides of the incident, the committee may decide that no further review is justified or may render a recommendation to the College Dean. The decision of the College Dean is final and will be communicated to the student in writing.
All students are expected to understand and practice the ethical codes and standards of conduct of Texas and the licensing board.
Students are also expected to understand and adhere to the standards of conduct for students at Texas A&M University - Central Texas (A&M-Central Texas). Violations of professional ethical standards or University rules could indicate a student is unfit to continue in the program.
Students are expected to periodically review the ethical standards to ensure continued understanding and practice.
Advisors and faculty members at A&M-Central Texas have an obligation to respond when students are in violation of professional ethical standards or University rules of conduct. Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs may take action when a student violates the Student Code of Conduct.
Students are required to seek advising by faculty advisors regarding coursework, certification and licensing requirements, program policies and procedures, requests to change degree plans, and assistance with other educational or career needs.
- A faculty advisor is assigned to each student according to area of emphasis and degree plan. Students may consult with any faculty member but are urged to work with their assigned advisor as much as possible due to his/her expertise and knowledge in the student's area of emphasis.
- Advising is a continuous process, and faculty advisors are assigned many students to advise in addition to their other workload requirements, such as teaching, service, and research. Students should demonstrate respect for the faculty advisor's time by setting appointments and being prepared for their appointments as much as possible.
Once Full Admission to a Program is granted, a student should contact his/her graduate advisor to discuss a plan for completing coursework as soon as possible and complete a Graduate Degree Plan Acknowledgment & Responsibility Form, which will be signed by the student, graduate advisor, and the Department Chair (or College Dean). Note: Students who are non-degree seeking are not in a degree program and are not eligible to file a degree plan. Care must be taken to select courses that also meet requirements for special credentials the student may be seeking such as licensure or certification. See the Certification and Licensure section of this guide for more details.
Transfer of Coursework to Degree Plan
Graduate degree credit is allowed only for A, B, and C grades (for more information see the University Catalog). For all graduate programs in the Counseling and Psychology Department, courses transferred to the degree plan are allowed only for A and B grades. Courses taken at any institution will not be transferred to the degree plan with a C grade or lower.
Students have a responsibility for their learning. Other responsibilities include:
- Reading the A&M-Central Texas catalog each year to determine if changes impact them
- Reading and adhering to professional ethical standards
- Meeting registration and payment deadlines
- Participating in activities and projects, internal or external to the University, that will enhance their learning experience
- Following the degree plan outline as closely as possible and being aware of all course prerequisites
- Preparing for courses by making arrangements to attend regularly scheduled classes, allowing for adequate study time, completing assignments on a timely basis, and taking the final exam as scheduled
- Identifying skill strengths and working toward development of skills that need improvement
- Asking questions to obtain information regarding topics they do not understand
- Acquiring and maintaining a minimum of $1,000,000 ($3,000,000 aggregate) in professional liability insurance prior to taking clinical practicums and internships
- Preparing for the site-based practicums and internships in advance of the semester in which they will be taken, including submitting application forms by posted deadlines
- Successfully completing the comprehensive examination or thesis
- Meeting graduation requirements and deadlines
- Collecting and maintaining documentation of practicum and internship hours which will be needed when applying for certification or licensure
- Becoming identified with the professional community (e.g., participating in professional activities and/or joining a professional association such as National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
Students must maintain high scholastic standards and develop skills necessary to work with people with diverse needs. Students are expected to demonstrate emotional and mental fitness in their professional fields and to conform to the code of ethics of relevant professional associations and the state of Texas. A student's acceptance to program does not guarantee professional fitness that is required to remain in the program. See Student Review Policy described below regarding what procedures will be followed when faculty believe students are not fit for a particular program.
Professional Endorsement Policy
The faculty will not endorse any graduate from the program for a license or certification for which the graduate has not been trained.
College of Education Academic Appeal Policy
The College of Education Grade Appeal Policy was designed to protect students from biased or inaccurate evaluation procedures without unfairly impinging on the academic freedoms of the faculty. Consistent with this, it is recognized that:
- Students have the right for their work to be evaluated fairly and accurately using a method consistent with professional academic standards.
- Faculty members have the right to evaluate students’ work using any method that is professionally acceptable, submitted in writing to all students, and applied consistently to all students.
- It is assumed that A&M-Central Texas faculty members appropriately evaluate students’ work, so the burden of proof for a grade appeal lies with the student.
The process for appealing a professor’s determination that a student has engaged in academic dishonesty is separate from the process for determining if a grade was determined fairly/accurately. If a student wishes to appeal a grade that was influenced by the faculty member’s belief that the student violated the university’s academic integrity policy and the student denies these allegations, the student must complete the university appeal process for accusations of violating the academic integrity policy prior to initiating a grade appeal.
Justification for an Appeal
Grade appeals may only be initiated if the grade was influenced by one of the following:
- Error: A clerical/computational error was made in calculating/reporting the grade.
- Prejudice: The faculty member’s evaluation of the student’s work was influenced by the faculty member’s negative attitude toward the student.
- Arbitrary method: The grading procedure employed departed substantially from accepted academic norms in a manner that indicated a failure to exercise professional judgment (e.g., no explanation given regarding the basis for assigning point values to assignments; grading procedure deviated substantially from what was stated in the syllabus without notifying students in advance of this change).
- Inconsistent application: The student’s grade was not determined using the same process applied to other students in the course.
- Unsubstantiated charge of dishonesty: The grade was based on a charge of academic dishonesty by the student which has been determined by the university to be unsubstantiated by the evidence presented.
- Insufficient reasons upon which to base an appeal include:
- Disagreement with course policies that are clearly communicated in writing to all students.
- Differences in policies among sections of the same course or across faculty members.
- Potential negative impact on the student (e.g., loss of financial aid).
- Dissatisfaction with instructional style and/or methods (Note: Students who have complaints regarding the instruction they receive should address these directly with their instructor or that faculty member’s supervisor).
A student who wishes to appeal a decision of a faculty member must request a review by that person within 30 calendar days of the originating event using the Grade Appeal Form (located on the website for the College of Education).
- The faculty member is required to give the student a written response within 15 calendar days.
- The response by the faculty member (or his or her immediate supervisor) should be made using the Appeal Response Form (located on the website for the College of Education).
- For an appeal of a course grade, the originating event shall be considered to be the posting of the grade to the university record. For an appeal of an assignment/exam grade, the originating event shall be considered to be the posting of the grade by the faculty member.
If the faculty member is not available, a response is not made within the specified timeframe, or if the student is dissatisfied with the response, the student should submit a written appeal to the Department Chair (or his or her designated proxy; the Chair must designate a proxy if he or she is the faculty member who assigned the grade to be appealed) within 60 calendar days of the originating event.
- This submission should include a copy of the original Grade Appeal Form, a copy of the Appeal Response Form from the faculty member, and a written explanation from the student addressing why he or she believes the faculty member’s response was inadequate/unsatisfactory.
- The Chair (or proxy) then has 15 calendar days to respond to the written appeal.
If the student is unsatisfied with the decision of the Department Chair, the student may appeal in writing to the College’s Academic Appeals Committee within 15 calendar days of notification of the decision from the Department Chair. The Committee will review the student’s appeal and after hearing both sides of the incident, the committee may decide that no further review is justified or may render a recommendation to the College Dean within 30 calendar days of receiving the student’s appeal.
- The Committee will consist of a minimum of three faculty members appointed by the College Dean and two student representatives.
- The student representatives will be the president of the university’s Psychology and Counseling student organization and the president of the university’s student chapter of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. If these students are not available to participate, they may appoint a replacement from within their respective organizations.
- The Committee may request additional information from the parties involved (e.g., course syllabus, work samples, testimony).
- The Committee will notify the student and faculty member that the appeal is under committee review.
- If the student or faculty member wishes to provide the Committee with additional materials explaining their position, this should be done within 7 calendar days of the time the committee is asked to review the appeal.
- The student and faculty member both have the right to present evidence in person to the committee, but the committee may deliberate in private.
The decision of the College Dean is final and will be communicated to the student in writing.
Student Retention Policy
Every student enrolled in Graduate Studies is required to maintain a high level of performance and comply fully with the policies of the institution. Students who have achieved admission are expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA on work completed at A&M-Central Texas. Graduate Studies reserves the right to suspend any graduate student who does not maintain satisfactory academic standing or fails to conform to University regulations.
At the end of any grading period, if a student’s semester or overall GPA falls below the minimum required as set by the department (at least a minimum of 3.0 GPA), she/he will be given notice of unsatisfactory academic performance and put on probation. The student must attain a 3.0 cumulative GPA during her/his next period of enrollment. Failure to do so will result in suspension. Students must be in good academic standing (i.e., not on probation/suspension to graduate).
At the end of any grading period, if a student’s semester or overall GPA falls below a 2.0 she/he will be automatically suspended. Students may not attend classes for one long semester or the summer term. Upon return from suspension, a student will sign a contract with Graduate Studies stipulating the conditions that must be met for the following term. At a minimum, the graduate student must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for every semester thereafter. Additional stipulations may be created on a case-by-case basis. A graduate student is allowed one suspension. If poor academic performance results in a second suspension, the student will be dismissed from the current program and may be permanently dismissed from the university.
Under exceptional conditions, a student may write a letter of appeal to the Director of Graduate Studies. Consideration for reinstatement will be on a case-by-case basis and approved only one time by the Director of Graduate Studies or designee. There is no appeal beyond the Director of Graduate Studies.
Student Review Policy
Students enrolled in the program in preparation for professional licensure or certification in the Counseling and Psychology Department are expected to maintain high academic standards and to develop appropriate skills and dispositions needed to serve as professionals in the field for which they are training. Students are expected to conduct themselves with professionalism, exhibit developmentally appropriate levels of competence, demonstrate social and emotional maturity, and conform to the guiding ethical standards for their field of study. A student’s acceptance into a program does not guarantee continued fitness in that program. As such, faculty members teaching in the graduate programs of the Counseling & Psychology Department, using their professional judgment, continually evaluate each student’s performance. If a faculty member believes that a student is not making satisfactory progress towards developing the skills and dispositions needed for professional practice, that faculty member will discuss the situation with the student. If the faculty member believes the student's performance did not (or is unlikely to) improve to acceptable standards after such a discussion, the faculty member may initiate the process of a formal Performance Fitness Evaluation (see Appendix C).
Performance Fitness Evaluation Process
Initiating a Performance Fitness Evaluation
- The concerned faculty member should complete the Performance Fitness Evaluation Form, share a copy of the Form with the student, and place a copy in the student’s file.
- The faculty will contact the student to schedule a Performance Fitness Evaluation Meeting. The student has 5 working days to respond to the request to schedule a meeting. If the student does not respond by the close of business on the 5th business day, the faculty will notify the student of the day/time when a Performance Fitness Evaluation Meeting will take place.
Performance Fitness Evaluation Meeting
- An ad hoc faculty review committee will be formed to review the concerns raised by the issuing faculty; it will be comprised of the Program Coordinator for the program in which the student is enrolled and 2 other graduate faculty appointed by the Department Chair.
- This meeting should take place within 10 working days of the student’s response to the request to schedule a meeting (or within 15 working days of the time the issuing faculty member requested the meeting, whichever comes first).
- At the meeting:
- The student will be provided with the reasons for non-satisfactory progress in writing (at minimum this will include the Performance Fitness Evaluation Form completed by the issuing faculty).
- The student will be given an opportunity to discuss the concerns with the faculty.
- In addition to soliciting input from the student, the Committee may consult with any of the department faculty and/or relevant supervisors regarding the evaluation of the student’s fitness and/or development of remediation strategies.
- Within 10 working days of this meeting, the student’s Program Coordinator will report the recommendation of the committee to the student and to the Department Chair.
- Possible recommendations include the following:
- Student allowed to remain in program;
- Student allowed to remain in program with conditions; or
- Student dismissed from the program.
- If the student is recommended to stay in the program with conditions, the faculty review committee will develop a remediation plan and submit a written copy of this plan to the student within 10 working days of the meeting.
- Appeals of the committee’s recommendation regarding remediation should be made to the Department Chair within 10 working days of the receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
- If at any time the student is not making satisfactory progress in remediation, the faculty review committee may either modify the remediation plan or recommend the student be dismissed from the program.
- If the student is recommended to be dismissed from the program, this will be reported to the student, the Department Chair, the Dean of the College of Education, and the Director of Graduate Studies.
- Appeals of the committee’s recommendation regarding dismissal should be made to the Dean of the College of Education within 10 working days of the receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
- A student’s failure to respond within 10 days of notification of the committee’s recommendation indicates the student’s acceptance of the committee’s recommendation.
Appealing the committee’s recommendation
- A student wishing to appeal the committee’s recommendation should submit his/her appeal in writing to the Department Chair (if appealing a remediation plan) or to the Dean (if appealing dismissal from the program) within 10 working days of the receipt of the committee’s recommendation.
- The Department Chair may amend the remediation plan if it is determined that:
- The remediation plan does not clearly address the concerns identified in the Performance Fitness Evaluation Form submitted to the student.
- The remediation plan is overly broad or vague in its requirements.
- The Dean will consider the appeal of dismissal based on results compiled by the Department Chair and notify the student of the decision within 10 working days of the appeal. The Dean’s decision is final. The Dean may negate the committee’s recommendation for dismissal if it is determined that:
- The committee’s decision was influenced by an unfair bias or prejudice against the student;
- The committee neglected to consider valid evidence that could have impacted the decision;
- The procedure employed by the committee to reach the decision departed substantially from accepted academic norms in a manner that indicated a failure to exercise professional judgment.
Every candidate for the program must successfully complete a comprehensive examination.
Students are ultimately responsible for enrolling in a zero hour comprehensive exam section the semester they plan to sit for the exam and for making arrangements to take it as scheduled. Examination dates are typically:
|Test Date||Application Deadline|
|Fall: 2nd Saturday in November||October 1st|
|Spring: 2nd Saturday in April||March 1st|
|Summer: 2nd Saturday in July||June 1st|
The nature of the comprehensive examination will differ according to the graduate program in which a student is enrolled. Students should consult with their Program Coordinator regarding the specific nature of this exam.
Program Coordinators will determine the minimum score required to pass the Comprehensive Exam. Students who fail to earn a passing score must meet with their Program Coordinator to develop a remediation plan before making a second attempt to pass the Comprehensive Examination. Students who are unable to successfully complete the required comprehensive exams will be dismissed from the program.
Students must register to graduate by the deadline listed in the current catalog or class schedule. All university requirements regarding the final procedures related to the degree must be followed. If courses have been substituted for those printed on the degree plan, a substitution approval form must be completed, signed by the student, graduate advisor, and the Department Chair and placed on file in the Office of Graduate Studies.
The following courses require a separate application for each semester in which the student will be enrolled:
- PSYC 5391, 5384, 5385
All prerequisite courses must be completed to be eligible for enrollment in practicum and internship courses with a grade of B or better (see Appendices D through I for the Verification of Eligibility Form appropriate for the program in which the student is enrolled). Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, be admitted to one of the professional programs, and not be on academic probation. Students must show satisfactory progress and acceptable standards of conduct. And, every applicant must be approved for eligibility by the practicum/internship director.
Any program faculty member may challenge a student's eligibility or fitness for a practicum or internship under the Student Performance Fitness Evaluation Policy of the department. No student will be admitted to a practicum/internship until all challenges to eligibility have been resolved.
Application and Deadlines
Application for practicum/internship experiences must be submitted for each experience. Acceptance and completion of one practicum/internship course does not assure acceptance to a second practicum/internship. Application forms are available on the department’s website and in the department office.
Application deadlines are announced and posted each semester. It is the responsibility of the student seeking a practicum/internship to know and adhere to the application deadline. No new applications will be considered after a deadline for a particular semester has passed.
The application deadlines are as follows:
If a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, it will be moved to the next working day.
Written notification of acceptance to a practicum/internship will be provided as soon as all applications have been processed after the deadline date. Packets containing guidelines and procedures will be mailed to all applicants who have been accepted. The assigned supervisor of each section will provide specific information and guidelines to students registered in that section. Students whose applications are not accepted may reapply for the subsequent semester.
Selection of Practicum and Internship Sites
The student seeks and chooses the practicum/internship site. Approval of the site by the practicum/internship director is required. A site must be deemed appropriate by the practicum/internship director to be approved. Sites that are greater than 75 miles from the Killeen campus must additionally be approved by the student’s Program Coordinator.
The student must provide the names and phone numbers of contacts at the site, as well as detailed information about the services offered and potential experiences for the student. To approve a site, the practicum/internship director will consider the qualifications of supervisors at the site, the experiences to be offered the student, the coursework, degree plan, and licensure/certification sought by the student, and the quality of the services offered at the site. The practicum/internship director may deny placement of a student at a particular site if the site is deemed inappropriate for meeting the educational needs of the student.
It is highly recommended that students seeking sites meet with the practicum/internship director early in the semester of the application deadline to get pre-approval of the site. This will help to insure that adequate time is available to find an alternate site in case a site is not approved.
All students who register for a practicum or internship course are required to submit proof of their student counseling/therapy liability insurance with each application for fieldwork courses. In some instances, students may be required to provide health certificates or evidence of immunization to work with clients. Because it is the responsibility of students to prepare themselves for course requirements, liability insurance must be purchased sufficiently prior to beginning a practicum or internship course to avoid delays in working with clients. Students are also responsible for renewing the insurance as needed.
- Students are strongly encouraged to network within the professional community (e.g., participate in professional activities and/or join a professional association).A variety of professional associations have student members. As a whole, these associations provide many benefits, products, and services to counselors, psychologists, and therapists. They promote public recognition of the profession, advocate for the profession, and represent the profession’s interests before federal, state, and local governments.
- Professional associations most directly related to our program options include:
- Association for Psychological Science
- National Association of School Psychologists
- Texas Association of School Psychologists
- Students are also encouraged to attend and participate in professional association conferences. Such experiences give opportunities to share research, network, and enhance professional development. While it is not a requirement, graduate faculty are often interested in collaborating with students to develop conference presentations.
All graduate degree options within the master’s degree programs are designed to lead to eligibility for professional certification or licensure in the State of Texas, with the exception of Educational Psychology. These degree options are primarily designed for a particular credential. Conferral of a degree is only the first step for students seeking professional licensure.
Certification or licensure is generally coordinated between the student and the board issuing the desired credential. Program faculty and the department usually provide documentation and verification of training experiences to boards after the student has initiated the credentialing process.
- For school psychologist licensure (LSSP), students initiate the process by contacting the appropriate licensing board.
It is the responsibility of the student to be aware of the particular requirements of the certification and licensing board for which a credential is sought. Additionally, these requirements often differ depending on what state one is pursuing a credential. Consult with program faculty if you are unsure of how to find these requirements.
Many credentials require post-master’s degree internship experiences. The student independently arranges these with the consent of the certification or licensing board. The department and its program faculty are not involved in this requirement.
Program options, the eligible credentials, and the appropriate certification and licensing boards for these credentials are listed in the table on the next page.
|Clinical Mental Health Counseling||M.S.||Licensed Professional Counselor (license)||Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors|
|National Certified Counselor (certification)||National Board for Certified Counselors|