Program Philosophy

We believe that deaf professionals are the most appropriate role models, while hearing counselors trained in working with deaf people can also be highly effective. Therefore, a secondary goal of the program is to increase the number of highly qualified clinical mental health counselors who are deaf or hard of hearing, and/or minority deaf or hard of hearing.

To reach these goals, a core curriculum is required of all accepted students, including courses in deafness and communication skills. We believe that mental health counselors must be proficient in a variety of communication styles to be effective helpers. Therefore, a high level of sign language proficiency is required of all students to begin the fieldwork experience; and students should be even more proficient by the time they graduate.

The individual needs of students within the program vary. For that reason, the prescribed program is flexible. Students may add areas of interest and specialization through elective course work, workshops offered on campus, and, when approved, independent studies. The program offers emphases on clinical mental health counseling or community mental health counseling through the selection of fieldwork placement sites.

The program prides itself on the integration of course work with fieldwork experiences. Students who graduate have completed a minimum of 700 clock hours of supervised experience before graduation. Sites and supervision styles vary, which is an important reflection of our belief that no single theory of intervention or counseling can help all people. However, change – and all people are capable of change – is optimized through a relationship with a trained professional. The major responsibility of the mental health counselor is to provide for the social and emotional needs of their clients, screen for and detect, and assist in the treatment of serious personal or emotional problems, and make appropriate community and mental health referrals.

Also, we believe that clinical mental health counselors are responsible for initiating and implementing preventative activities to lessen the development of increased stressors, resulting in improved mental health for deaf and hard of hearing people living in various communities.

Organizing Theme

“The clinical mental health counselor working with deaf and hard of hearing clients and deaf clients with additional special needs, is a professional who applies principles of facilitating change and development to individuals, groups, systems, and society.”

This theme reflects the philosophy of the program, defines points of intervention along the continuum, focuses on the role of the professional in life, and leads to the attainment of the program objectives. This theme determines what/who our graduates should be upon completion of this program.


The former CACREP-accredited counseling programs suspended admissions in 2019. We are now reopened as a low residency program and we plan to stay aligned with CACREP standards until we are able to reapply for CACREP accreditation in the fall of 2024.

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M.A. in Counseling: Clinical Mental Health Counseling

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