Whitney Glenn is a second year online Master of Arts student at Adams State College in Colorado. She is studying clinical mental health counseling. Whitney also attended Adams State College as an on-campus student for her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Whitney chose to earn her masters degree online because she can excel in online classes and still find time to care for her 3 young children. After graduating, she hopes to work as a professional counselor.
I decided to pursue my masters degree online because the flexible format accommodates my family obligations. I am a single mom and have been homeschooling my 3 children, which is a huge commitment. I also live an hour away from Adams State College so it is not feasible for me to make the commute to campus.
I chose to get my online masters degree from Adams State College because it has a good reputation. In fact, Adams State College is accredited by the CACREP, the most prestigious accrediting agency in the counseling profession. My diploma will also not specify whether the program was on-campus or online.
In addition to the school’s reputation, I chose to study at Adams State College because of its cost and location. Although I was initially concerned that an online education would cost more than a traditional program, I was pleased to find out that I could pay the same in-state tuition as an on-campus student. And even though I chose to study online, I still wanted a school that I could travel to if I really needed to speak to a professor in-person.
When I enrolled in my masters program, Adams State College provided me with an advisor who guides me through class selection and registration. My advisor helped me to stay on track last semester when I decided to begin my coursework early.
Mental health counseling focuses on guiding patients through life’s struggles and helping patients accomplish their goals. In a masters degree for mental health counseling, students are taught the necessary tools and skills that trained counselors use to facilitate their patients’ progress.
Once I graduate, I plan to go through the necessary steps to become a licensed professional counselor. I am specifically interested in working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community. I hope to get involved with end-of-life counseling as well.
The online masters program in mental health counseling at Adams State College takes 3 years to complete and consists of coursework, a practicum and an internship. About half of the program is coursework, involving mainly reading and writing, although some course material is presented through films, novels, podcasts and other media formats.
In addition to coursework, I will complete a practicum which will require 100 hours of work in a clinical setting. Although I have not started my practicum yet, I participated in an on-campus pre-practicum session last summer. During this week at the college, I had the opportunity to practice counseling skills with my professors and other students.
During the last year of my program, I am required to complete about 600 hours of internship credit. I get to choose the site of my internship and I will receive supervision from a practicing counselor and a collaborating professor.
So far, I have enjoyed the experience of attending class online largely because it is easy to access course materials. Assignments are presented on Blackboard, an online discussion board program. In addition to providing important information, Blackboard encourages class interaction and lets us form online study groups.
My program requires 2 on-campus seminars that are 1 to 2 weeks long.
My most useful classes were Mindfulness in Counseling, Play Therapy, and Ethics. Mindfulness in Counseling taught me how to get in touch with my own emotions so that I can help patients increase their own emotional awareness. In my play therapy course, I gained hands-on clinical experience with children.
Finally, my ethics course provided me with detailed knowledge of what is and is not ethically acceptable. I think it is impossible to be a responsible professional in the counseling field if you haven’t taken this class.
Although I primarily interact with my professors using e-mail, phone call are an option as well. Since I live only an hour away from Adams State College, I have also met a couple of my professors in-person.
In my experiences so far, I have had great communication with my professors. I interact best with my professors through writing, and fortunately e-mail based communication offers the added bonus of being recorded and archived on my computer.
Although I don’t think I would do anything differently, I have a couple pieces of advice that might help other students who are thinking about pursuing a degree in mental health counseling. First, I would advise prospective students to make sure that they are passionate about the field. If students earn a counseling degree because they hope to earn a lot of money in the future, they will be dissatisfied.
And second, I would recommend that mental health counseling students make sure that they are psychologically and emotionally stable before enrolling in a program. This is important because studying mental health counseling tends to bring up old emotions and issues.