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Get Psyched For New Grad Program

By Cassidy LeBert

Staff Writer ‘17

The need for mental health counselors is on the rise in today’s society and the School of Liberal Arts at Merrimack has decided to respond to those needs. In a growing society faced with an increased demand for mental health care, there comes an inevitable call upon qualified counselors. Merrimack College is excited to announce that this coming fall, a new Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program will be in place, preparing students to enter a career in the mental health world.

As students of The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, graduates will be preparing themselves for licensure. As stated in the program description, “Degree candidates will acquire the skills, insights, and hands-on experience they need to successfully work with clients facing addiction, depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental health challenges.”

Those graduating from this program are to fulfill 60 credit hours of classroom based learning and 700 fieldwork hours, which coincides with the requirements for Licensed Mental Health Counselors in the state of Massachusetts.

“It’s a big deal to be in charge of someone else’s mental health needs. The requirements are strict, as they should be to ensure the care of patients,” said Associate Psychology Professor Christina Hardway.

Of the 700 hours, 100 are dedicated to practicum and the other 600 are internship, which looks to help those dealing with domestic violence, grief, sexual assault, and abuse, according to the program description.

Hardway said that given the offerings of these new opportunities, the school hopes to be meeting the expressed needs of current and aspiring psychology students.

Responsibility for the implementation of the graduate program is greatly due to the hard work of Dean Monica Cowart and Associate Psychology Professor Christina Hardway. Hardway states that she and her colleagues are “looking forward to helping students do what they want with their lives.”

Jim Chiavelli, associate vice president for communications at Merrimack, called psychology “one of the school’s main strengths” in regards to Liberal Arts studies and in hopes that the new program will be able to showcase the strong faculty and potentially even allow for new spaces devoted to the Psychology department.

When Hardway was asked about the goals in mind when creating the program, she responded with main motivators derived from student learning aspirations.

“The guiding principle is putting together a high quality program that follows Merrimack’s mission of social justice,” Hardway stated.

Students around campus are also very excited about this announcement as it opens the door for more higher education options. As a Human Development and Elementary Education major who just added a Clinical and Counseling Psychology minor, junior Anna Swenson is very eager to hear about the possibilities that a masters in counseling may bring to her future career path.

“Even though part of my major is education, it’s refreshing to know that psych offers so many career possibilities and a counseling masters program here at Merrimack makes my access to those possibilities even easier,” Swenson said.

Student Ambassadors Melissa Browne and Kayla Regan have also confirmed the excitement of not only Merrimack’s undergrads, but of prospective students as well who often inquire about psychology graduate programs. For more information regarding program details and how to apply, contact graduate@merrimack.edu or visit www.merrimack.edu.