Mental Health Counseling Degree: M.A. in Mental Health Counseling
The Master of Arts degree program in Mental Health Counseling (MAMHC) combines BGSP’s integrative approach to learning about unconscious mental life with the practicality of a license-eligible counseling degree. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed for licensed clinical practice in mental health counseling while developing a psychodynamic understanding of healthy human development and psychopathology. Students may specialize in Child & Adolescent Counseling or Addictions Counseling, two areas of high demand in the current job marketplace.
In this program, students:
- Engage in a comprehensive program of coursework in mental health counseling
- Learn about human development over the lifespan
- Study a broad range of counseling theories and clinical methods
- Explore social, cultural, and biological issues related to counseling
- Develop skills in assessment and intervention in clinical settings
- Learn to evaluate, diagnose, and treat a wide variety of clients
- Understand ethical concerns in treatment
- Gain a psychoanalytic perspective on human development and clinical work
- Study unconscious processes such as repetition, defenses, transference, resistance, and symbolism
- Develop a psychoanalytic framework for understanding psychopathology across a wide range of diagnoses
- Observe and understand their own emotional life as a precursor to understanding others
This program is ideal for the student interested in practicing as a licensed mental health professional within a psychoanalytic framework at the master’s level.
In the past three years, 94% of recent graduates from this program are either working in the field or pursuing a higher degree. 100% of recent graduates who have chosen to take the state licensing exam have successfully passed. Graduates are prepared to practice in a variety of mental health settings. Those who wish to continue their graduate studies to become psychoanalysts may use the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling credits toward fulfillment of the Pre-Candidacy requirements for BGSP’s Doctor of Psychoanalysis degree or Certificate in Psychoanalysis, if admitted.
Qualifying for Licensure as a Mental Health Counselor
The Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling provides students with the education and clinical experience needed at the pre-master’s level to meet licensing requirements in the state of Massachusetts. Post-master’s requirements include an additional 3200 hours of clinical experience in an approved setting providing additional hours of supervision, as well as successful performance on the licensing exam. While these requirements are similar to those of other states, applicants and students should check the requirements of the state in which they intend to work. For information on licensing, click here.
Mental Health Counseling Degree Requirements
Graduation requires successful completion of the 66 credit curriculum (which includes twenty one courses scheduled over four semesters and a summer), a 100-hour clinical practicum, a 600-hour internship, a presentation of fieldwork cases indicating sufficient understanding of case dynamics, and an accepted Fieldwork Research Paper. Coursework includes theories of counseling, basic and comparative psychoanalytic theory, developmental studies, psychopathology, assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning, ethics and professional practice, and group dynamics. Students also undertake a personal analysis as part of their training. Please refer to the program catalog for exact graduation requirements.
Students can complete the program in four semesters and one summer if they complete the Fieldwork Research Paper concurrently with coursework. Students with high curiosity, openness to new experiences, and tolerance for ambiguity tend to proceed more successfully through the program. Many students take one or more additional semesters to complete the paper, and some students schedule their internships in a third year.
Each student participates in a training analysis, working one-on-one with an analyst throughout the program. The training analysis is an important part of the educational process. It deepens the student’s understanding of course material through personal experience and helps the student tolerate the feelings aroused by psychoanalytic study. It offers a fuller appreciation of one’s own emotional dynamics, increases the student’s access to all emotional states, and increases self-understanding, which is particularly critical for understanding others. Students complete at least seventy hours of training analysis, typically meeting weekly.
The first clinical experience is the 100-hour practicum, conducted in a fieldwork setting where students sit with regressed patients in order to learn about psychosis and primitive mental states. This experience, unique to BGSP, provides the opportunity to learn how to develop basic skills in establishing a therapeutic relationship with clients in regressed states. The practicum and accompanying fieldwork seminar and supervision foster an ability to read the client’s contacts, responses to stimulation, and symbolic communications while observing the emotional responses induced in oneself. These skills are basic to working with people at all levels of functioning. Students continue meeting with the three patients seen in the practicum placement beyond the 100-hour counseling license requirement, in order to have a long term experience with regressed patients.
After a semester in the practicum placement, the student begins the internship experience, placed for fifteen hours a week in a clinical setting serving adults, children or adolescents, for a total of 600 hours. Group supervision is provided at BGSP; individual supervision with qualified supervisors takes place at BGSP and on site. Placements include clinics, day treatment programs, residential settings, schools, early intervention programs, and substance abuse programs.
The Master’s research curriculum introduces students to research methods in the human sciences and facilitates the student’s completion of a Master's Fieldwork Research Paper. In the paper, the student analyzes qualitative clinical data from the practicum field placement. Working with both the research instructor and the fieldwork seminar instructor, the student demonstrates his or her ability to apply psychoanalytic theory, to view the clinical process from a research perspective, and to provide an empirical basis for inferences. Interested students may choose to enroll in Directed Research and work with a thesis chair on a more elaborate research project as well.
Abstracts of Master's Theses