Southern New Hampshire University's MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, offered through the University College, has over 20 years of experience offering graduate education for students interested in pursuing licensure as clinical mental health and addictions counselors.
Earn your degree in counseling to promote individual and community wellness, resilience and recovery:
Not available for international students.
This innovative program is offered face to face, one weekend a month, to diverse student-learning communities on location in Manchester, NH; Burlington, VT; Brunswick, ME; Milwaukee and Wausau, WI; and Anchorage, AK. The program’s mission is to prepare professional counselors to work as clinical mental health counselors, in community and private practice settings, in order to promote individual and community wellness, resilience and recovery. In addition, graduates are prepared to meet the needs of individuals with mental health challenges and addiction disorders.
CACREP Professional Identity Standard
Southern New Hampshire University
MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (Weekend Format)
Professional Identity and Orientation
To prepare clinical mental health counselors who are knowledgeable concerning the current and emerging trends in the counseling profession and can address the needs of all people with mental health and co-occurring disorders, such as addictions, using a strength-based and wellness orientation.
Social and Cultural Diversity
To prepare clinical mental health counselors to respond to the needs of all people in a socially and culturally competent, person-centered respectful manner.
Human Growth and Development
To prepare clinical mental health counselors to understand human development across the life-span, from early childhood to elders, and to apply strength-based developmentally appropriate clinical interventions.
To prepare clinical mental health counselors to understand the importance of meaningful work and assist clients in achieving their personal and career goals.
To prepare clinical mental health counselors who are skilled in the counseling process, including engagement, assessment, treatment and outcome-based practice.
To prepare clinical mental health counselors who are able to apply a variety of evidence-based practice modalities in an individualized and culturally competent manner to address mental health, co-occurring and addictions disorders.
To prepare clinical mental health counselors who are knowledgeable and skilled in the areas of group counseling methods, group dynamics and group facilitation styles that serve a wide array of participants and purposes.
To prepare clinical mental health counselors to take a holistic comprehensive approach to assessment, that informs strength-based and individualized treatment planning.
Research and Evaluation
To prepare clinical mental health counselors who are knowledgeable about research, program evaluation and the use of data to evaluate individual and systemic outcomes.
To prepare clinical mental health counselors who are lifelong learners and who read, critique and contribute to the literature of the profession.
Program Area Standards
To prepare clinical mental health counselors to meet the curricular objectives in their clinical mental health counseling specialization area, including wellness promotion, prevention, treatment, referral, organizational leadership, advocacy and systems change.
Professional Practice Standards
Engage in field based supervised practicum and internship experience to integrate academic learning with professional practice.
Personal Growth and Understanding
Develop self-awareness of their strengths and limitations and utilize self-care and supervision in service of their professional development.
Our unique, nationally recognized curriculum prepares students to meet the educational requirements for licensure as clinical mental health or professional counselors in each of the locations in which it is offered, as well as surrounding areas. The curriculum also covers much of the content required for certification or licensure as an addictions counselor, and many alumni pursue dual licensure as addictions counselors. Licensure is not guaranteed, as students must meet post-master's practice requirements and pass the required exams.
The curriculum is competency based and aligned with the standards of the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Alumni are change agents, clinicians and leaders in child/family and adult mental health, dedicated to recovery, integrated approaches to mental health and addictions, and evidence-based practices, across the life span.
The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires 63 or 66 graduate credits, including a 100-hour practicum and two or three 300-hour internships (700 or 1,000 hours total of practicum and internship experience), dependent on the licensure requirements for clinical mental health and professional counselors in the states in which the program is offered.
Students in the Master of Science degree complete all of the required course work for an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, across the lifespan, and also complete a specialization in integrated mental health and addictions treatment for children, youth, and families or for adults, including issues of health and aging.
The program has been recognized as an Innovative Practice by the Annapolis Coalition in 5 categories: consumer and family/adult mental health, child/adolescent and school-based mental health, leadership, rural mental health, and substance use disorders treatment and persons in recovery.
The program is designed to be highly accessible to working adults, in order to encourage a diverse group of students, including people currently working in counseling and related fields, people in recovery and family members, as well as the general public. Graduates demonstrate a strong grounding in the knowledge and skills of the counseling profession, as well as in: person-centered and strength-based approaches; culturally competent practice in a multicultural and diverse society; integrated, evidence-based clinical practice in mental health and addictions, and a commitment to leadership, systems change and advocacy within the profession, the community, and the larger society.
The program combines face-to-face instruction and distance-learning activities geared to adult learners. Intensive weekend instruction (classes meet one weekend per month) is provided for cohorts "on location" in several states across the country, including New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Alaska. The program is administered out of the SNHU Vermont Office, for all locations, and the program offered is identical across sites, in terms of curriculum, faculty, and delivery model.
Faculty are scholar/practitioners who bring national and local expertise in clinical mental health and addictions counseling, integrated service delivery, research and administration.
This course introduces students to the community mental health program and includes an overview of the philosophy and content and information about how the program is operated. Students create an Individual Professional Development Plan that outlines their learning and career goals. The IPDP serves as a means of communication between students and their advisors throughout the program.
In this course, students gain an understanding of the foundations of clinical mental health counseling, the people served, and the history and current state of public and private systems of care. One focus is an understanding of co-occurring mental health and addictive disorders, across the lifespan, and their impact on the lives of people diagnosed with these disabling conditions. This course also provides an overview of emerging issues in mental health counseling, policy and practice in behavioral health and integrated health care; current approaches to prevention, comprehensive treatment and support; the impact of managed care; community-building, education, advocacy, and systems change. Topics are addressed from multiple perspectives, with a strong emphasis on the perspective of service recipients and their families; as well as service providers, policy makers; and the community at large.
Students gain an understanding of the clinical mental health counseling process, from engagement to assessment, intervention, and evaluation. The focus is on the development of culturally relevant communication and consultation skills, in the context of major counseling theories. Skills are practiced in relation to working with individuals with significant mental health and substance abuse problems, their families, and other professionals. Areas covered include: ethical considerations, values clarification; evidence-based helping strategies; working with natural supports.
This course provides an overview of standard assessment and diagnostic methods in mental health counseling, which includes the classification, description and differential diagnosis of mental health and substance use disorders. Students will develop the capacity to use a systematic inquiry process for obtaining and evaluating important and accurate information during assessment. Students will gain a practical, working knowledge of the DSM-5, as well as skills to assess strengths, mental status, and trauma. The role of hypothesis formulation and hypothesis testing will be considered, along with the etiology and treatment indications for various disorders. Ethical, cultural and other issues and biases related to assessment and psychopathology are discussed.
This course focuses on person-centered, recovery-oriented treatment planning, for clinical mental health and addictions counselors. It includes an understanding of the diagnosis and assessment process and how an understanding of mental health and addictive disorders influences the treatment planning process. It also addresses an individualized, strength-based approach, understanding and outreach to natural supports and community resources, and the importance of communication, documentation, and personal and community involvement in designing effective approaches to prevention, treatment and support.
This course introduces students to the principles and practices of program evaluation and systems research, including quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Students become informed readers of research literature, develop a research proposal on a topic of interest and learn how to use data to evaluate individual clinical practice and program/agency outcomes. Methods for gathering information from and for key constituencies are emphasized.
This course covers significant practice-based challenges for clinical mental health and substance abuse counselors. The course includes a review of ethical standards and guidelines that have been developed by various helping professions, focusing on clinical mental health counseling as well as addiction counseling. It examines common tensions, polarities, practical implications and moral conflicts within which the counselor must exercise discretion and judgment, and explores the legal and ethical frameworks through which these decisions must be considered. Specific topics include credentialing in students' respective states, HIPAA and 42CFR 2. Through discussion, role play, real-time case examples and guest speakers, students deepen their understanding and commitment to the multiple roles of counselors in a multiagency, interdisciplinary context.
This course offers a review of significant research findings and theories about human development and transitions across the lifespan. The emphasis is on building a multidimensional framework for understanding development processes and dynamics, while addressing the impact of predictable challenges as well as traumatic events over the lifespan. Emphasis is placed on the interplay of biological, cognitive, social, and cultural factors associated with both normal and abnormal development.
This course explores aspects of the leadership and management role within mental health and counseling organizations. It provides an introduction to such topics as personal management and self-awareness, staff and clinical supervision, organizational dynamics/change/leadership, and managed care. It examines the research on community and systems change, strategies for analyzing and understanding communities and service systems, and community organizing and advocacy approaches.. Students learn the consultation skills critical to promoting collaboration and change in organizations and communities, and complete a project which integrates the research literature with practical applications and action strategies in this area.
There are three emphases in this course. One is on an understanding of family systems and family-based approaches to treatment, including issues related to culture and ethnicity, the impact of domestic violence, effects specific to very young children, and so forth. The second is on a thorough understanding of addictive disorders across the lifespan, including system and community issues, such as how to address cross-social service system treatment barriers, and community education and mobilization. The third is on specific interventions for youth who are abusing substances, for example, strategies for providing intensive treatment options in the community, developing prosocial behaviors, safe detox for adolescents, and the legal issues which affect minors (e.g., differences in age of consent for mental health and substance abuse treatment, involuntary treatment issues).
Students gain a working knowledge of major medications used to treat psychiatric, substance use and co-occurring disorders, and their actions and side effects, as well as basic medical problems for which referrals should be made. Issues specific to children and youth, adults and elders are addressed. This course also covers the physiology of addictions and the effects and prevalence of the major addictive substances of abuse. Students develop an understanding of withdrawal symptoms and detox protocols Educating individuals and their families on medication benefits and side effects is emphasized.
Students must write a significant paper that is a literature review in an emerging area of clinical practice; a review and analysis of a policy issue or trend; a program design, development or evaluation; a system change strategy plan or analysis; or a grant proposal. Students are expected to integrate relevant literature, concepts and theories from their courses.
This course provides students with an overview of several formal theories of clinical mental health counseling and psychotherapy, including implications for research and practice. Many of the major theories are discussed, such as Psychodynamic, Humanistic, Experiential and Behavioral. Focus is on the theories' historic and functional connection to specific approaches, such as CBT, REBT, Solution- Focused and Narrative. Family Systems approaches are discussed as well. Course involves multiple modalities, including case-study reviews and skill-based applications
This course enables participants to acquire knowledge about theory and a way of thinking about and working with small groups. It is based on the assumption that experiential learning is the most effective way to get acquainted with a new and challenging topic. The course combines presentations of various theoretical issues related to group work with structured learning experiences that enable the application of newly acquired content in familiar contexts.
This course provides an overview of the principles and practice of measurement and testing in clinical mental health and addiction counseling. Students gain an understanding of the major theories underlying different approaches to psychological testing, and the ethical, cultural, and developmental issues involved in measurement. This course focuses on selecting clinical measures for gathering information, understanding the statistical concepts involved, evaluating the utility of these instruments in terms of their psychometric properties including reliability and validity, and interpreting the results to inform diagnostic and intervention processes. Students gain familiarity with major measurement techniques for children and adults in the areas of intelligence and educational testing, personality assessment, and vocational and aptitude testing. Included are discussions of strength-based measures, as well as assessment of abuse and other risks.
This course focuses on the interaction between society and the individual. Students gain an understanding of issues related to race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture and religious preferences and develop the knowledge and skills for culturally competent practice in behavioral health services.
This course reviews the major theories of career counseling. It explores life factors and roles that influence decision-making and reviews community and informational resources for career development. It also covers major career- counseling techniques and programs for the general population and for people with disabilities.
This course is intended to be designed independently by a Program in Community Mental Health graduate student, in concert with an instructor, and with program approval. The independent study may address a clinical, management or research topic, either to meet a specific course category needed for licensure that is not otherwise covered within the curriculum or to allow the student advanced study in an area of interest.
Students complete a 100-hour practicum in basic counseling skills, in a relevant program or agency, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. A learning contract is developed by the student with the practicum supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the practicum process, individual and group instruction for the students, and serve as liaison to the field sites. The field experience consists of at least 40 hours of direct service to actual clients. Offered on a pass/fail basis only.
Students complete an additional 100 to 300-hours of practicum, in basic counseling skills, in a relevant program or agency, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. A learning contract is developed by the student with the practicum supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the practicum process, individual and group instruction for the students, and serve as liaison to the field sites. A minimum of 100 hours is required per credit. The number of hours and credits are outlined in the practicum learning contract. Offered on a pass/fail basis only.
Students complete a 300-hour clinical internship, reflecting the comprehensive work experience of a clinical mental health or professional counselor, in a relevant program or agency, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. The field experience includes a minimum of 130 hours of direct service to actual clients, but more is recommended. A learning contract is developed by the student with the internship supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the internship process, individual and group instruction for the students, and serve as liaison to the internship sites.
Students in the Master's program complete a second 300 hour internship (a minimum of 100 hours per credit awarded) that focuses on the development of advanced clinical and counseling skills, reflecting the comprehensive work experience of a clinical mental health or professional counselor, in a relevant program or agency, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. The field experience includes a minimum of 130 hours of direct service to actual clients, but more is recommended. A learning contract is developed by the student with the internship supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the internship process, individual and group instruction for the students, and serve as liaison to the internship sites.
Students in the master's program complete a second 150 to 200-hour internship (a minimum of 100 hours per credit awarded) that focuses on the development of advanced clinical and counseling skills. A learning contract is developed by the student with the internship supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the internship process, individual and group instruction for the students, and serve as liaison to the internship sites.
Students complete an additional 100-400 hours of clinical internship, in a relevant program or agency, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. A minimum of 100 hours per credit is required, focused on the development of advanced clinical and counseling skills reflecting the comprehensive work experience of a clinical mental health or professional counselor. The number of hours and credits are outlined in the internship learning contract, developed by the student with the internship supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the internship process, individual and group instruction for the students, and serve as liaison to the internship sites. Offered on a pass/fail basis only.
Take three courses from one of the specializations below:
Children, Youth and Families Specialization
This course is focused on commonly used treatment modalities with children, adolescents, and families, that can be used in a variety of settings. An emphasis is placed on understanding family systems and family-based approaches. Treatment modalities include: Behavior and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Narrative Therapy. Students will learn the theoretical framework and assumptions for each approach, therapeutic techniques associated with each intervention, how each therapeutic approach can be used for specific mental health (i.e. depression, anxiety, ADHD, conduct disorders) and addictive disorders, cultural and developmental considerations, and the existing research on such practices. Students will have opportunities to practice these clinical skills in class and discuss how to apply these practices with children and families in their internship settings.
This course is the second of two clinical classes on specialized interventions with children, adolescents and families. The course will offer techniques for working with children, families and the general community during times of individual, family or community crisis (mental health or health crisis, accident, death, etc.). It will focus on the youth and families in crisis in the context of the natural community and the mental health systems of care. It will review the history and theory of crisis interventions, proactive planning for individual youth before the crisis occurs or reoccurs and risk assessment strategies. Other specific topics of focus will include: intervention in complex cases, trauma-informed care, self-harm/suicide, violence, and natural or human caused disasters. Strategies for assessment, planning, and intervention will emphasize family members as partners, solution and strength based treatment planning and interventions, natural and community based supports.
This innovative new course provides an overview of the latest assessment and intervention techniques used with infants, very young children and their families, with a strong emphasis on social and emotional development and mental health. Students will gain an understanding of the impact that early trauma, family violence, poverty and development disabilities can have on young children. Students will establish a context for working with young children in various community settings.
This course will build a clinical and practical foundation for intervening with adults who have co-occurring mental health and addictive disorders. Essential epidemiological, etiological, assessment, and evidence-based and promising treatment modalities will be covered (e.g. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, IDDT). Topics will include integrated mental health, addictions and primary health care, family-involvement, involuntary interventions, and treatment modalities for young adults.
This course is the second of two clinical classes on specialized interventions with adults. This course will integrate empirical and functional aspects of the therapeutic process when intervening with individuals who have co-occurring mental health and addictive disorders. Students will learn to employ core clinical interventions and treatment modalities for people with complex issues, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy and other specialized approaches. The course also will offer techniques for working with people during times of individual, family or community crisis (mental health or health crisis, accident, death, etc.). The complexity and heterogeneity of co-occurring disorders will be closely examined. There will be a special emphasis on how an individual's experience of trauma complicates clinical work. Unique ethical and boundary issues will be addressed.
Americans over the age of 65 are a fast growing segment of the population. A significant percentage of elders have mental health or substance abuse concerns. This course is designed to better prepare mental health and substance abuse counselors and other related professionals for the treatment and support of elders. Students will gain knowledge of specific strategies for screening, assessment, and treatment of elders, including attention to: situational concerns such a loss, grief and social isolation; issues of trauma and elder care; differential diagnosis of new vs. existing conditions; symptoms related to dementia and Alzheimer's; mental health issues related to depression, mental illness and changes in executive function; substance use issues, including interactions with medications, and other related medical conditions. Students also will gain an understanding of the larger service systems and community resources available to elders.
MS.CMH.66 (66 Credit Option)
Students in the Master's program may complete a third 300-hour internship (a minimum of 100 hours per credit awarded) that focuses on the development of advanced clinical and counseling skills, reflecting the comprehensive work experience of a clinical mental health or professional counselor, in a relevant program or agency, under the supervision of a qualified field instructor. The field experience includes a minimum of 130 hours of direct service to actual clients, but more is recommended. A learning contract is developed by the student with the internship supervisor. PCMH faculty provide supervision for the internship process, individual and group instruction for the students and serve as liaison to the internship sites.
The Graduate Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MS) has been offered at Southern New Hampshire University since 2001. The program was founded at Trinity College of Vermont in 1995 as a collaborative effort among the Center for Community Change through Housing and Support, Trinity College of Vermont, and the Vermont Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services. The program received significant financial support from the Van Ameringen Foundation.
$590 per credit hour
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges as well as several other accrediting bodies. More...