Credit Hours
Hours Clinical Experience


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  • In-Person

Clinical Mental Health Counseling at St. Mary’s

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling educates students to become professional counselors prepared to meet the needs of diverse populations in South Texas and the nation. Course work and clinical experiences help students formulate their personal approach to counseling while allowing them the opportunity to demonstrate personal growth and development for enriching careers as counselors.

The mission of the Department of Counseling and Human Services is to prepare graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s degree to work as professional counselors who are able to integrate Marianist values related to promoting justice, peace, and human dignity as they serve in an increasingly pluralistic, changing and global society.

Prior to graduation, students are expected to:

  • Understand the essential elements of the counseling profession and related human services professions and the distinctive contributions of each in meeting the needs of the various client populations.
  • Understand the principles of effective counseling and the processes of bringing about positive change within the counseling setting.
  • Understand theories, skills, techniques and philosophical foundations of clinical counseling.
  • Demonstrate the counseling competencies necessary to work in a professional capacity with a broad range of client populations and client issues.
  • Understand the characteristics of various social, cultural and ethnic groups and the impact these characteristics have on the counselor and the counseling profession.
  • Understand the responsibilities inherent in the roles and functions of the professional counselor and the social, legal and moral obligations created by the professional counseling relationship.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively with human services professionals from a variety of human service disciplines (psychology, psychiatry, social work, pastoral counseling, etc.)
  • Demonstrate the skills required for effective client evaluation and assessment, treatment planning, implementation of appropriate counseling strategies and techniques and follow-up.
Program Expectations

Objective 1: Professional Identity – a successive understanding of the professional counselors’ integrated roles related to the management and oversight of ethically sound clinical services in a variety of community contexts and clinical settings.

  • Over the course of the program, students are measured through the completion of the following: creating and responding to clinical vignettes, presenting and responding to cases in clinical courses, developing a crisis intervention video plan presentation, responding to ethical dilemmas and collaborating with others in the department and in the community during clinical courses and for course projects.

Objective 2: Counseling, Prevention and Intervention – knowledge and practices regarding a systematic approach to creating and maintaining collaborative service plans and advocacy needs in response to diverse community, wellness and mental health issues and crises.

  • Over the course of the program students are measured through completion of the following: developing wellness plans; developing crisis assessment and treatment plans (to include considerations for addiction, co-occurring mental health issues, etc.;) completing a community and social justice project; developing a genogram; writing a paper outlining their development over the lifespan in relation to family, peers, community and other sociocultural contexts; and writing a mental health status exam paper on the protagonist in the movie that depicts a crisis.

Objective 3: Diversity and Advocacy – understanding of the ways in which privilege and oppression operate in relational and socio-political cultural contexts and impact therapeutic relationships, theoretical modalities, community resources (or a lack of) and advocacy needs.

  • Over the course of the program, students are measured through the completion of the following: making a class presentation on human development through a sociocultural lens, participating in an immersion project designed to broaden sociocultural perspectives, creating a “power line” designed to examine identity markers that indicate sources of privilege or oppression in their lives, writing reflection papers on social status and completing the sociocultural portion of the Clinical Case Conceptualization Position Paper.

Objective 4: Assessment – ability to create and obtain culturally sensitive and competent case conceptualizations and biosocial and mental health histories and to utilize and interpret assessments in ways that insure treatment interventions (including referrals, counseling and psychotropic medication considerations) are consistent with clients’ respective developmental contexts.

  • Over the course of the program, students are measured through the use of the following: presenting cases in their clinical courses; performing a client autopsy based on the creation of a client crisis, preparing a comprehensive treatment plan and resolution; researching the levels of bias and practicality of assessment tools, consulting with a psychiatrist in clinical courses, creating biosocial histories for the clients they see in the Counselor Education and Family Life Center and writing a mental health status exam paper on the protagonist in a movie that depicts a crisis.

Objective 5: Research and Evaluation – Use of research techniques including: identifying and applying cutting edge, outcomes-based treatment modalities relevant to their clinical practice and evaluating the effectiveness of counseling interventions and programs.

  • Over the course of the program, students are measured through completion of the following: writing a literature review, creating a community counseling project that includes program evaluation and researching evidence-based treatments in evaluating counseling outcomes.

Objective 6: Diagnosis – understanding and working knowledge of mental health diagnoses, diagnostic criteria and diagnostic tools and their relevance in relation to clients’ health, psychosocial stressors and crises and how to collaborate with other mental health professionals in the interest of clients in a variety of contexts and circumstances.

  • Over the course of the program, students are measured through completion of the following: writing a paper on a clinical diagnosis, creating a role-play video during which they conduct a mental health status exam and writing a mental health status exam paper on the protagonist in a movie that depicts a crisis.
Program Objectives

For more information, contact Francis Farrell, Administrative Assistant, at 210-438-6400 or ffarrell@stmarytx.edu.

  • Degree Plans

    This program uses traditional classroom teaching methods, role play and clinical experiences, online and written assignments, and testing as some of the methods of instruction. Students are required to practice counseling at the Family Life Center, a department-run clinic, and in community settings. Students are required to pass a comprehensive examination as part of this degree program.

    For additional information about degree candidacy, comprehensive exams or thesis requirements, contact Melanie Harper, Program Director, at mharper@stmarytx.edu.

  • Course Highlights

    Students take 60 credit hours of courses, which include three clinical courses.

    Sample courses:

    • Clinical Mental Health Capstone
    • Child Development and Play Therapy
    • Hope, Resilience and Human Transcendence
    • Mental Health and Psychopathology
    • Seminar in Counseling: Trauma-Informed Care
    • Theories of Counseling

    Find course descriptions and requirements:

  • CACREP-Accredited

    The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which provides recognition that the content and quality of the program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession. Accreditation means students can be assured that appropriate knowledge and skill areas are included and that the program is stable, professionally and financially.

Become a Licensed Professional Counselor

The master’s program provides personal attention to students as they prepare to become successful, licensed professional counselors who help clients with a variety of problems and circumstances including:

  • Career issues, such as unemployment and underemployment
  • Diagnosable mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Interpersonal issues, such as marriage preparation, separation and divorce
  • Developmental issues, such as identity development, aging, grief and loss
  • Social issues, such as family and community violence

Students are trained to work respectfully with clients of all ages and from all cultural, economic, religious and family backgrounds. The degree plan is structured for either full- or part-time study and includes three semesters of clinical experience. The program includes required counseling courses, clinical courses (internships) and elective courses.

Gain Experience in the Community

The Family Life Center is a community counseling center offering low-cost, quality services to the public. The center is staffed by students enrolled in the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and are supervised by licensed University faculty.

Clinical Courses
Hours of Clinical Experience
Median annual earnings for Mental Health Counselors

What can I do with a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

Access Valuable Career Opportunities

Upon graduation, students are prepared to work in institutions and agencies offering counseling services, including alcohol and drug treatment facilities, social service agencies and hospitals. After the post-graduation supervised experience required for full licensure, many graduates pursue private practice.

Pursue a Doctorate

Some graduates continue their education by enrolling in a doctoral program that prepares them to train and supervise counselors, such as the Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision at St. Mary’s University.

Elizabeth Kjellstrand Hartwig

I’m in my dream job, and St. Mary’s helped make my dream a reality.”

Elizabeth Kjellstrand Hartwig (M.A. ’98, Ph.D. ’11)
Founder and Director of the Texas State University Animal-Assisted Counseling Academy


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