home May 2022 LA&S Counselor Education Department Established

LA&S Counselor Education Department Established

The Counselor Education Department was recently established as a stand-alone department within The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in October of 2021. The department, originally housed within the Psychology Department, underwent a rigorous review of its program to receive accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Over the course of the last 20 years, the program was revised from a 36-credit concentration to a 60-credit degree, which meets New York State requirements for licensure. The department serves a total of 75-80 students with 36 students incoming each year including non-traditional students making mid-life career changes.

The department’s primary purpose is to train students to be mental health counselors and school counselors. It offers two graduate level degree paths: the Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the Master’s in School Counseling, as well as two advanced certificates, both designed to augment the graduate degrees of working professionals who wish to expand their education and experience. The Advanced Certificate in Mental Health Counseling is designed specifically for the working professional who may have completed a master’s degree prior to the current accreditation requirements while the Advanced Certificate in Trauma and Disaster Mental Health, supported by both the Counselor Education Department and the Institute for Disaster Mental Health, builds on mental health counseling skills and provides specialized trauma-based education.

Both the school counseling and mental health counseling degree programs require students to participate in internships. Students take part in a one-semester practicum of 100 hours and a two-semester internship of 600 hours for a total of 700 clinical hours. The department partners with area school districts as well as substance abuse and addiction agencies, foster programs, prison programs and more to provide the professional experience so important for students at this point in their education.

“From an educator’s perspective, it is so much fun to watch students start their practicum and go on to their internship. Their confidence blossoms and you see them go from a student to a counselor in training. It has been really wonderful to watch that progress,” said department chair Melanie Hill.

Hill, along with Psychology Department faculty members Johnathan Raskin and Jonathan Rust played pivotal roles in the growth and transformation of the program to a department. The Counselor Education Program first sought CACREP accreditation in 2012 under the guidance of Raskin before ultimately receiving provisional accreditation in January 2021 after more changes and growth towards autonomy including control over its own budget and curriculum. In 2013, Hill began as director of the program and began working to address the checklist of recommendations from the initial CACREP review. Additional core faculty members include assistant professors David Bright and Adam Stephens and lecturer Adam O’Meara.

Melanie Hill
David Bright
Adam Stephens
Andrew O’Meara










In addition to pursuing full accreditation during the Fall of 2022, the department has set as future goals building upon the newly forming sense of community for the students, continuing to expand their faculty and focus on new initiatives such as social justice issues and recruitment of a more diverse student body. A new tenure-track faculty member, Sumedha Therthani, will join the department in the Fall of 2022 and there is an ongoing search to fill both a clinical instructor position and clinical placement coordinator position. The department is also in the planning stages of establishing a tele-mental health clinic for the community designed to provide services for underserved rural and Spanish-speaking populations. Additional plans include the possibility of offering their advance certificates in an online format and partnering more with the Institute for Disaster Mental Health to provide opportunities for students to do more clinical work and for students to complete the advanced certificate work.