The Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences continues its expansion of the School of Applied Health Sciences with the start of the region’s only hybrid-style mental health counseling master’s degree to equip graduates with expertise in both clinical mental health counseling and marriage, couples and family counseling.
The rigorous two-year, 60-credit hour program, which begins in January 2016 and is now taking competitive applicants for its first 12-member cohort, meets the educational requirements for Florida licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and also offers the option of Florida licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
The Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling is designed to meet heightened demand as stigmas lessen and awareness grows of the need for collaboration by medical personnel and mental health professionals in treating depression, anxiety, stress, behavioral disorders, addictions, physical illnesses and other issues facing all age groups.
Dr. Christine Sapienza, Dean of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences, said she was excited about continued expansion of focused, high-quality student education.
“We are in an excellent position to serve the health care needs of the Jacksonville region by readying the best working professionals,” she said. “The future graduates of our program will be prepared to work with a wide range of populations in a broad spectrum of settings. Our curriculum will identify the multifaceted layers of the mental health profession. Students will truly learn their identities within this important profession and I believe will be personally fulfilled by the experience.”
The degree, which is pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), will be taught in a hybrid style, with students taking half their coursework online and meeting once or twice a week in class. It will also require completion of 1,000 hours of community-based clinical field experience. JU will be seeking accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for this degree.
“We are seeing an increased emphasis on integrated behavioral health in our healthcare delivery systems, with the recognition that we do not separate out physical, spiritual, social, mental and emotional well-being from each other,” said program Co-Director Dr. Sharon Wilburn, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor-Master Addiction Counselor, and former Program Director for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of North Florida.
The field for mental health professionals is attractive, and the strong industry connections of Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences administration and faculty will help facilitate internships, community outreach and employment. Career opportunities include prospects in hospitals, clinics, primary care physician offices, non-profit agencies, private practice, coaching and consulting, elevated managerial roles and project management.
A dynamic aspect of JU’s new program is its strong experiential component blended with traditional classroom lecture, in which students gain practitioner training in the classroom and community using holistic healthcare approaches. The Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences is well-suited for this educational pathway, and interdisciplinary collaboration with the University’s Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Speech-Language Pathology, Psychology, Counseling Center and other programs is planned.
The primary outcome is to develop clinicians who offer effective treatments alongside other healthcare practitioners to treat and prevent mental challenges. The program will provide the most timely, cost-effective degree in which students can quickly compete in the market of mental healthcare clinicians.
Because there are no specific undergraduate degrees or pre-requisite requirements, prospective students will come from a variety of education and professional backgrounds, including but not limited to social sciences graduates; working adults in public health, nursing and health administration; and military veterans.
“We are excited to make a positive, powerful impact in the community,” said Co-Director Dr. Larry D. Wagoner, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Director of Pastoral Care and Education at Baptist Health. “Many people pursue multiple careers in their lifetimes, and this will make it easy for an individual to make that transition. It is designed to fit working hours so students can keep their jobs during their coursework.”
The admissions deadline for the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences is Oct. 1, with decisions released by Nov 1.
For more program information, visit the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences, or contact Dr. Leigh Hart, Assistant Dean, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (904) 256-7600. For admissions information, contact Ashlea Rieser, JU Graduate Admissions Officer, at email@example.com or (904) 256-7209.