Mississippi College Alumni Magazine | Summer 2012

A New Professional in the House

MC’s Doctor of Professional Counseling program is the first of its kind in the nation

This fall, MC will offer the first classes in a doctor of professional counseling program created for licensed counselors who wish to concentrate in a specialty. Designed for counselors who plan to practice rather than teach, the program is the first of its kind in the United States.

Professional counselors are eligibleto be licensed to practice after earninga master's degree and performing clinical hours in counseling. While counselors may complete coursework inmarriage and family counseling, mental health, or other specific areas andchoose to emphasize those areas intheir practices, they are still recognizedas "general" counselors in terms oftheir academic credentials. The only doctoral programs currently offered in the field are designed for those who plan to teach; the MC program is the first designed specifically for those who wish to practice.

"Prior to the creation of this program at MC, there was not a degree professional counselors could earn that would allow them to add doctoral level specialization that would recognize them as a specialist in marriage and family counseling, mental health counseling, or other specific areas," says Don W. Locke, dean of the School of Education. "This degree program offers specific coursework and clinical experience in those areas, and will allow practicing counselors to hold a doctoral level degree.

"Locke, who served as president of the 50,000-member American Counseling Association for 2011-2012, announced the launch of the MC pro- gram at the organization's national conference held last March in San Francisco. Twenty-four students have already enrolled.

"The MC program is already receiving national attention," Locke says."There's been a need for this degree for years, and I believe most people in the field expected it to be offered first by a large state university focused on clinical research. The fact that the program was launched by a small, private university in Mississippi has attracted even more attention. Other universities will attempt to replicate the degree, but that may take a year or more. Until then, MC is the first to offer this degree for counselors and the clients they serve."

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