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School of Humanities

Master of Science in Counseling (MSC)

Course Descriptions

COURSE TITLE: Professional Orientation and Foundation in Counseling (3 credits)
The course focuses on theoretical perspectives of helping in a wide variety of human interaction situations.  Theories of counseling will be examined and their application to other professional helping relationships will be discussed.  Variables related to establishing and maintaining a helping relationship will be examined, e.g., assessment/intervention, rapport building, cultural competence and skill building. The stages of a helping relationship will be explored in class by role-plays, student simulation (case consultation), and problem solving formats. Emphasis is on understanding helping from the perspective of interpersonal dynamics and the components of behavior change.

COURSE TITLE: Human Development Theories and its Application (3 credits)
This course focuses upon psychological development throughout the life span. Emphasis is placed on developmental theories and concepts focused on psychosocial, cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, and moral aspects of growth and change. Students will be provided the opportunity for assessment of their own developmental process, self-needs and strengths. Theories will be applied to students’ personal and professional experiences.

COURSE TITLE: Interviewing Skills (One-on-One Counseling) (3 credits)
This course is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, values and skills necessary for effective assistance to individual, clients, and family systems. Communication, which is a major component of mental health clinical practice, is accomplished through the transmission, reception and interpretation of verbal, non-verbal, and written messages. Understanding and use of communication skills are essential for effective practice. Students will learn skills to support clients’ efforts to navigate themselves behaviorally and emotionally during the therapeutic process as well as the functionality of ongoing clinical assessment and evaluation. This course integrates and supports learning through lecture, skills demonstration, discussions and case analysis. Students will develop skills in problem solving, effective communication, and documentation.

COURSE TITLE: Psychopathology, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning (3 credits)
This course will provide a comprehensive review of current models, theories and principles pertinent to the identification, description and delineation of major mental disorders. Concepts and terminology from the DSM-IV-TR/DSM V will be detailed and applied to salient clinical concerns and situations arising in human service agencies. Case and illustrations will be drawn from participants' clinical experiences. Special emphasis will be placed upon the reasoning, judgments and extrapolations that underlie the process of clinical diagnosis and prognosis. This course is designed for human services practitioners who serve as therapists, counselors, or case managers in a variety of human services settings in both public and private sectors. The purpose of the course is to present the categories of the DSM-IV-TR/DSM V as well as definitions of mental disorders derived from theory and research. The intention is to provide a knowledge base that will enable human service practitioners to become better observers of symptoms and behaviors that constitute the basis for diagnostic judgments. The material presented in the course should also enable practitioners to make more effective linkages from diagnostic judgments to the enumeration of clinical interventions and treatment plans.

COURSE TITLE: Statistics (3 credits)
Topics include probability theory, concepts of descriptive statistics, discrete and continuous distributions, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, sample sizes, correlation, regression, multinomial and contingency tables. Computer applications will be investigated.

COURSE TITLE: Ethics in Counseling (3 credits)
This course is an introduction to the ethical standards for the profession and to the research relevant to ethical behavior of counselors in mental health, career, and school settings. Study of important legal developments related to confidentiality, testing, research and supervision. The course also involves the application of ethical and legal standards to complex cases. Examination of emerging ethical issues and models of ethical decision-making will also be discussed.

COURSE TITLE: Counseling, Assessment, and Application (3 credits)
This course will examine a variety of assessment and testing methods, advanced interviewing procedures, and observational techniques associated with the formulation of diagnostic impressions and treatment plans in clinical settings. Emphasis will be given to multi-modal and eclectic appraisals of cognitive, affective, social, vocational, interests/aptitude, achievement, intellectual and personality aspects of functioning. 

This course will also present frameworks and models for the development of assessment practices. Attention will be given to the function and origin of assessments and testing instruments and principles underlying counseling and clinical practice in various human services settings. 

Additionally, concepts identifying appropriate paradigms for diagnostic inferences will be covered. Guidelines for conducting the assessment process in an ethical and considerate manner will be presented. Much attention will be given to the implications of clinical assessment and testing for diagnosis, clinical decision-making and treatment planning. The techniques, tools, instruments and models incorporate into the course content will be elucidated in a pragmatic manner to be utilized by counselors, clinicians and human service practitioners who might not necessarily administer psychological tests but will nevertheless be responsible for making clinical judgments and interventions based upon an understanding of test results.

COURSE TITLE: Multicultural Counseling (3 credits)
Multicultural counseling is the art of deconstructing and reconstructing individual and familial strands of culture, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical characteristics, education, social values, religious and spiritual values, socioeconomic status and unique characteristics. Students will become more proactive, knowledgeable, and empathetic based on their interaction and effective communication with those from a culture different than their own. The course is designed to prepare culturally competent counselors by developing awareness, knowledge, and skills required for counseling in a multicultural society.

COURSE TITLE: Applied Research Methods (3 credits)
Research is the heart of social inquiry. One important goal of the MSC program is to train students to become research practitioners. Through this course, students will learn how to conduct and apply research to their clinical practice and begin to prepare themselves for advanced degree pursuits. Thus, a goal of this course is to train graduate students to be disciplined, productive, and culturally sensitive researchers. It is designed to give students a broad view of the variety of approaches to designing good social research, with a substantive focus on inequality and empowerment. Students will survey many topics, techniques, and methodologies, with an emphasis on breadth rather than depth, on familiarity and critical engagement with ideas rather than mastery of technique.

COURSE TITLE: Career and Lifestyle Development Counseling (3 credits)
This course will examine the theoretical framework and professional skills and tools used in the career counseling process. The course will present major theories of career development and introduce the student to principles, methods and tools of career assessment and decision-making. Applications of career counseling skills to a variety of human service settings will be explored, as well as the significance of career development through the lifespan. Students will examine their own career development and advancement and apply the skills of career counseling to a practicum client.

COURSE TITLE: Group Processes (3 credits)
The course focuses on theories of group dynamics with respect to styles of leadership and/or facilitation of group context, process, and conflict resolution. Behavior in face-to-face groups is examined along the dimensions of task accomplishment, relationships among group members, and issues of cultural diversity. Ethical questions for groups and the formation of group norms as a values clarification process are considered. The difference between beliefs, attitudes and values will be delineated. Issues of institutional racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia will be examined for their impact upon norm formation. Group dynamics will be explored in a cultural context with the emphasis on valuing diversity and managing conflict. Emphasis will be placed upon intra-group and inter-group dynamics, intracultural and intercultural communications, as well as linkages between groups and lager social systems.

COURSE TITLE: Addictions and Compulsive Behavior (3 credits)
This course will expose students to clinical and theoretical assumptions about addictions. Drug and alcohol dependence, compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping and eating, sex addiction, excessive internet use and other behaviors will be explored in an effort to broaden students’ understanding of the debilitative effects of addictive behavior. Trauma, co-dependence/enmeshment, detachment, and various defense mechanisms will be examined throughout the semester and will give students an opportunity to develop a robust conceptualization about some of the challenges of addiction and learn various interventions. Finally, this course will discuss how addiction impacts individuals, couples, families, and society.

COURSE TITLE: Death, Dying, and Loss (3 credits)
This course will provide students with an interdisciplinary understanding of death and dying, focusing primarily on psychosocial, mental health, behavioral, and ethical issues. As a natural and developmental process of life, counselors should be familiar with relevant theories and implications about dying, grief, and loss. Some specific topics to be covered include epidemiology, prevention, attitudes towards death, living with a life threatening illness, end-of-life care, hospice, historical and cultural perspectives, ethical issues, legal issues, pain management, the relationship between stress and health, healthcare and mental health interventions, final planning, grief and mourning, funeral rituals, and suicide.

COURSE TITLE: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling (3 credits)
This course will give a cross-cultural, socio-historical review of families, while emphasizing the current status of the family, including changes in marriage and family patterns. The course will highlight various therapeutic strategies for working with couples and families who are under emotional, relational, and other social forms of distress. The course will address the family life cycle and how family members impact each other’s behavior, cognition, and affect. The course will assess multicultural issues of couples and families, the experiences of nontraditional families, and relevant clinical interventions that may empower family members. Timely topics such as family violence, AIDS, changing roles of women, impact on families of substance abuse, mental illness, and poverty will be addressed. In addition, the functional and dysfunctional dynamics that exist among couples will also be explored.

COURSE TITLE: Sexuality Counseling and Consultation (3 credits)
This course is designed to acquaint the student with sexuality issues and challenges that he/she may encounter as a counselor or consultant. The student will learn about the myriad of ways in which sexuality is expressed and interpreted. The student will also assess and determine which aspects of sexuality are in line with his/her own personal value system. This course provides a solid foundation that encompasses relevant philosophical, psychological, sociological, and ecological theories that underpin the practice of sexuality therapy. This introductory course will desensitize and provoke introspection for counter-transference.

COURSE TITLE: Crisis and Trauma Counseling (3 credits)
This course is designed to prepare students to respond effectively in critical situations and to help counsel clients who are experiencing crisis events in their lives. Students will learn that crisis interventions are founded on theory and will be able to apply theory to crisis intervention techniques. Special attention will be paid to counseling approaches for use with circumstantial and developmental life crises in the community.

COURSE TITLE: Counseling the Elderly (3 credits)
This course provides a background in counseling older adults and their families. The first part of the course provides basic information on common mental health problems of later life and how to assess them. The second part introduces the student to basic knowledge about counseling theories and their application to problems in later life including grief and adjustment to chronic illness.  This section concludes with a discussion of how to evaluate the effectiveness of psychological interventions with older adults. The remainder of the course covers counseling in the family system, applying counseling theory and interventions in organizational settings like nursing homes, and ethical issues with older adults. 

As one of the skills courses in gerontology, the course is intended to introduce students to counseling skills that can be used in a wide variety of human services jobs in the aging services network. The class can also provide gerontological counseling knowledge for persons in other programs that prepare the student for a counseling career such as social work, counseling psychology, and clinical psychology.

COURSE TITLE: Special Topics and Research in Counseling
(3 credits)
This course provides a strategic assessment of contemporary counseling trends to broaden students’ conceptualization and enhance their clinical and consultative skills. Students will gain insight into how to create and develop their own clinical and consultative niche.

COURSE TITLE: Understanding Gender in Counseling
(3 credits)
This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of ‘gender’, cultivates an appreciation for the contributions gender studies has made to the different disciplines within the social sciences, inculcates in students an ability to analyze contemporary social and development issues through a ‘gender’ lens, and develops an awareness/sensitivity for addressing gender related issues in counseling. The course will bring together theories, approaches and methodologies from feminism, masculinities and queer studies. It complements, builds upon and critically re-visits all other counseling courses taken by students in the Master of Science in Counseling program.

COURSE TITLE: Happiness, Mindfulness, and Mental Health
(3 credits)
While there is no shortage of lay theories and self-help literature that offer advice on how to achieve “the good life,” this seminar will examine the nature of mindfulness and happiness and its utility in a therapeutic or consultative environment. Recent empirical research will be reviewed, and students will be asked to apply the information in several written assignments and in class discussion. While the main goal of this course is to extend student understanding of clinical and empirical research on the topic of happiness, they will be invited to apply some of the research findings on happiness to their own life and clinical practice.

COURSE TITLE: Counseling and Consultation of Adolescents
(3 credits)
An overview of the basic concepts of research and theory (both historical and current) in the field of adolescent psychology is essential for individuals to grasp the developmental and sociological functioning of adolescents. This course will utilize scholarly inquiry and will be self-directed in the form of an independent research project. The basic concepts of research and theory will be measured by the quizzes, papers, and examinations administered in class. As the basic concepts of adolescent psychology are attained, critical thinking/perspectives will be developed as individuals are asked in large and small groups to compare and contrast research designs, cultural constructs, and social interventions. Developing a critical perspective is essential to predict behavioral and affective outcomes and formulate hypotheses for future research/clinical endeavors related to adolescent psychology. Finally, through discussions, in-class writings, and class activities students will be able to assess their own development and assumptions as they relate to social and cultural expectations about adolescents and research targeted at this population.

COURSE NUMBER: MSC 640 and 650
COURSE TITLE: Counseling Internship: Practicum and Supervised Counseling Experience
(3 credits)
This course is designed to provide oversight and academic supervision for internship placement in a mental/counseling agency setting. The student is expected to provide a variety of counseling services in an approved community human services agency under the site supervision of a licensed counselor or other qualified professional. Course work will focus on case supervision and discussion of counseling theories and skills to complete the internship experience. Students must complete a total of 700 hours at the approved site with no less fewer than 100 direct contact hours over the course of two semesters.

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University City Campus
3020 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104
(215) 590-8233