Story by Ralitsa Gospodinova
The deadline for the spring semester applications for Missouri Valley College’s Community Counseling graduate program is December 15.
The college launched its Master of Arts in Community Counseling (MACC) in the summer of 2011.
The mission of the graduate program is to prepare students to use counseling principles and techniques competently and ethically, to help individuals, couples and families of diverse cultural backgrounds achieve a healthy adjustment in the areas of personal, social, educational, and career development. With its focus on critical thinking, cultural awareness, communicative skills, and academic excellence, the program seeks to produce future professional counselors who are exemplary members of society with lifelong love of learning.
“The program offers a very strong clinical training experience for students,” Dr. Kevin Sanders, director of the Master of Arts in Community Counseling, said. “There are other master’s programs that have more of a research emphasis, our program is much more suited for people who are committed to being practitioners,” he added.
Sanders recently joined MVC as MACC director bringing a lot of experience and new ideas for the graduate program. He has
bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree and doctorate of psychology from Forest Institute in Springfield, Mo. Sanders has vast clinical experience in different counseling settings and he is a great addition to the Missouri Valley College community.
MACC is a flexible program that can accommodate the needs of the adult learner who might not be able to come to classes during the traditional day-time course schedule, Dr. Sanders said. For convenience of such students, the classes are scheduled in the evenings.
The program consists of 60 credit hours, which can be completed in two years or more. “This is beyond what is currently required for licensure in Missouri and a lot of other states,” Dr. Sanders said, “it enables students to meet most of the licensure requirements as far as academic standards in different states, which may have higher requirements than Missouri currently does, and enhance the training of the students.”
With December 15 as the deadline for the spring semester applications to enroll into the graduate program, candidates for the program need to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, or a bachelor in a related field who must complete prerequisite courses; 2.5 undergraduate GPA; GRE score of at least 900 (currently incorporating the new GRE scoring system); three letters of reference; personal statement; and an interview with MACC officials.
There are currently 13 students enrolled in the program. The student body consists of individuals who just completed their bachelor’s degree to adults who are returning to school after many years of work. “You can get one on one attention a lot quicker, people respond much faster,” Dr. Cami Miller, a MACC professor, said. “If you ever have a problem everybody comes together to help you out. The students are great, they are very collaborative, studious and they really participate and make class what it is,” she said.
“We have different evaluative procedures that a lot of other programs don’t to the same extent,” Sanders said. “We want to make sure that the students are going to be successful when they enter the clinical world, so we have different professional milestones they have to successfully reach.”
After completing the five foundation courses, the students of the MACC program petition for candidacy status. The candidacy process ensures the MACC students’ readiness to continue in the program and evaluates the sufficiency of the students’ academic performance. There are also qualifying exams prior to practicum to ensure students are ready to enter that stage of the program. They are required to complete a 100-hour practicum and two 300-hour internships. “Six hundred hours of practice might not seem a lot, but, for the state of Missouri, it is good, and it mirrors what students can expect once they graduate,” Rachel Mayfield, MACC Practicum coordinator, said.
There is also a Capstone project which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge gained from academic as well as experiential learning. In order to be eligible for graduation, MACC students must pass the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) in their final semester. The CPCE is a nationally administered multiple-choice exam designed to provide evidence of competence in the field of professional counseling, and it is also a smaller version of the exam students will have to pass in order to become licensed professional counselors.
“We are kind of tough on the students academically because we expect so much,” Mayfield said. “It is because they are going to be our colleagues, they won’t be considered students anymore once they pass that licensing exam,” she said.
“After graduating from our program students will be trained to work in private practice work, community mental health centers, service agencies, correctional facilities, hospitals, and even potentially working with the VA system,” Sanders said. “There are a lot of varied types of experiences they can get involved in,” he added. The 60-credit-hour curriculum helps students prepare for licensure in many states, allowing for mobility to explore employment opportunities throughout the United States. The MACC officials realize that some of the students are adult learners and they may be invested in staying in their own communities rather than going out to different areas of the country, therefore this program is structured in such a way that there is a lot of flexibility when working with students on their practicum and internship opportunities.
“I started this program in the summer semester, not really knowing what to expect but knowing what I wanted to get out of it,” Tabatha Inscore, a student in the MACC program, said. “I feel like all the instructors are extremely knowledgeable, the fact that they can bring practice and not just book knowledge to the program is extremely beneficial for the students. It’s challenging and so far I am really enjoying it.”
The clinical courses are taught by practicing professionals who bring in a lot of knowledge and experience to the MACC program.