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Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

The M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The program has been CACREP accredited since 2007. For more information on CACREP, please visit their website at

Program Mission

The M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is designed to train a diverse body of service-oriented graduate students (largely from New Jersey and nearby areas) to be practitioners, leaders, and advocates in the field of mental health counseling. The members of the faculty are committed to graduating students who have exemplary theory-based knowledge and skills in counseling and who have demonstrated competence in providing counseling services to people from diverse populations. The department’s goal is to offer a program of study that seeks to stay consistent with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards, as well as the academic and skill requirements of state licensing and national certification for counseling.

The M.S. program is intended for students seeking licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in New Jersey. It is the first clinical mental health counseling program in the state to be accredited by CACREP. Accreditation is a significant consideration for the New Jersey State Board of Examiners for LPC licensure.

If desired, students can also later pursue a doctorate in counselor education.

Program Objectives:

  1. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with professional orientation and ethics in counseling.
  2. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with culturally competent counseling practice.
  3. Students will gain knowledge of human development across the lifespan and its application within the counseling process.
  4. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with career development and its applications in the counseling process.
  5. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with the establishment of therapeutic relationships and the facilitation of client growth.
  6. Students will gain knowledge of major counseling theories, evidence based practices, and skills in applying this knowledge to the counseling process.
  7. Students will gain knowledge and skills associated with group facilitation and the group counseling process.
  8. Students will gain knowledge and skills associated with appraisal and testing.
  9. Students will gain knowledge and skills associated with research and program evaluation to inform counseling practice.
  10. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with working in multidisciplinary mental health systems.
  11. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with mental health diagnosis.
  12. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with providing crisis counseling.
  13. Students will gain the knowledge and skills associated with providing substance abuse treatment.
  14. Students will demonstrate an awareness of self and personal values, aptitude for graduate study, success in forming effective counseling relationships and growth in ethical and culturally competent practice.

Program Assessment:

As one gauge of the department’s success in educating its students, every year surveys are distributed to students in field placement, field placement supervisors, graduating students, and program alumni. In 2017, a majority of students reported feeling prepared and had positive experiences in field placement. Soon-to-be graduates and alumni consistently reported feeling adequately prepared when it comes to a majority of counseling categories, including “Counseling Skills,” “Knowledge of Ethical Code,” “Working with Individuals,” and “Treatment Planning,” etc.

Pass rates for the comprehensive examination (CPCE) and licensing examination remain very high. The CPCE is a nationally standardized examination that students in the department’s MS must pass in order to graduate.

Every other Fall, employers (Field Placement Site Supervisors and employers of graduates) are surveyed to assess the performance and preparation of Monmouth students and graduates. In 2017, all employers rate Monmouth students as average or above average on all categories, such as “Educational Preparation,” “Counseling Skills,” “Ethical Behavior,” and “Case Conceptualization.” They also stated that they were likely or highly likely to employ another Monmouth master’s level counseling student/graduate.

Faculty to Student ratio (FTE) continue to remain low at 10.6 to 1.

Substantial Program Changes:

Faculty Changes: As of June 30th, Dr. Gary Handler retired as field placement coordinator (he will remain teaching as an adjunct). As of June 30th, Dr. Sol Shuck retired after 52 years of service. Beginning Fall 2018, two new tenure track faculty members, Dr. David J. Ford and Dr. Jason Branch, joined our department.

Program Operations Changes: Matt Tirrell has been hired full time as the Director of Field Placement.

Significant Curriculum Changes: Counseling Skills has been added to the core curriculum and is now a prerequisite to PC 550: Group Counseling and practicum.

Changes in Practicum and Internship: The department voted to require all practicum and internship sites to allow students to tape their client sessions.

Program Accomplishments:

  • Faculty:
    • Gary Handler retired from his role of the Department’s Field Placement Coordinator and Specialist Professor. An alumnus of the program, he has dedicated the last twelve years to teaching a range of mental health counseling courses as well as providing support to students and department alumni as they navigate the process of finding valuable internship and job placements.
    • In 2017, Dr. George Kapalka completed training to become a Medical (Prescribing) Psychologist in Louisiana, and a Conditional Prescribing Psychologist in New Mexico.
    • Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Springer and alumni and adjunct professor Christine Hennigan Paone contributed to a book entitled, Critical Incidents in School Counseling. Their book chapter was “Critical Incident: When the supervisor needs supervision.”
    • In September 2017, Assistant Professor Dr. Megan Delaney, Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Springer, and current graduate assistant Madison Lawn presented their research on ecotherapy at the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC) National Conference in Tempe, Arizona.
    • Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Springer co-authored a book entitled, A School Counselor’s Guide to Small Groups: Coordination, Leadership, & Assessment, which came out in April 2018 at ACA’s National Conference.
    • In September 2017, Dr. Stephanie Hall, Dr. Jessica Burkholder, Dr. David Burkholder, and Dr. Alan Cavaiola travelled to Budapest, Hungary to attend and present at the American Counseling Association’s 58th Annual European Branch Conference. Dr. Hall and Dr. Cavaiola delivered a presentation entitled, “Treating Substance Use Disorders as Attachment Disorders”, while all four faculty members presented, “Clinical Supervision Across Populations: Methods and Techniques.”
    • Professor Dr. Alan Cavaiola was the co-author of several publications in 2017. In December 2017, he collaborated with Dr. Joseph Colford, an Associate Professor at Georgian Court University, to produce Crisis Intervention: A Practical Guide. This book is an update of two previous books he has written and is published by Sage Publications. Additionally, Dr. Cavaiola and Dr. David Stout, a 1998 graduate of the MS program and current Adjunct Professor in the Department of Professional Counseling, co-authored a study entitled, “An Exploration of Facets of Workplace Abuse”. The study is being published in the APA journal, Psychologist Manager, and examines the incidence and responses to other forms of workplace abuse when compared with bullying. Interestingly, many of the Department of Professional Counseling’s current students assisted in collecting data and scoring several measures utilized for the study.
  • Alumni:
    • The Department of Professional Counseling’s first “Current Topics in Counseling” Conference was held on December 1, 2017 at Monmouth University’s main campus. This event attracted over 120 attendees from in and outside of the university. Dr. Catherine Roland, 2016-2017 ACA President, was the keynote speaker and her address focused on current challenges and ethical responsibilities of advocating for the mental health field. Workshop presenters throughout the day included Monmouth faculty, alumni, and other professionals in the field and topics included court-mandated clients, couples counseling, Buddhist philosophy, counselor self-care, LGBT older adult clients, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and grief counseling. Governor Richard Codey, Monmouth’s 2017-2018 Public Servant-in-Residence gave a take entitled “Mental Health and Public Policy,” through which he discussed his experience with going undercover in psychiatric hospitals and conducting inspections of boarding homes in order to uncover mistreatment of patients who were mentally ill.
    • The 2018 Current Topics in Counseling Conference plans are underway. Next year’s conference will be held on Friday, November 16, 2018, and the CAC has secured a keynote speaker for the day. S. Kent Butler, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, NCSC will give the keynote address. He is an Associate Professor at University of Central Florida, a 2016 ACA Fellow, and a University of Central Florida Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence.
    • The CAC is planning future “From Our Own” presentations. The next FOO will be held on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 7 p.m. on Monmouth University’s Main Campus. Michele Levin, LPC, LCADC, ACS, SAC, is a 2012 graduate of the Mental Health Counseling Program and will be presenting on “Generation Z and Family Therapy.”
    • Alumni Jenni Tevlin collaborated with colleagues, including Dr. Alan Cavaiola, to write an article entitled, “The Effects of Equine Assisted Therapy on Plasma Cortisol and Oxytocin Concentration and Heart Rate Variability in Horses and Measures of Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans” in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Jenni received a $4,000 grant to conduct the study related to the article.
    • Alumni Christine Hennigan Paone (January 2018 graduate) has partnered with Dr. Sarah Springer to co-teach PC 505, the introductory course Mental Health Counseling.
    • CAC’s Peer Consultation Group (PCG) has grown extensively in popularity and because of its increase in attendees at its monthly meetings, there will now be two monthly meetings offered on alternating Monday and Thursday evenings.
  • Current Students:
    • Chi Sigma Iota inducted 73 new student members from the Departments of Professional Counseling and Educational Counseling in April 2018. The ceremony was held on Monmouth University’s Main Campus and the members’ family and friends were invited to attend. CSI has had a busy year filled with philanthropy and social and academic involvement. Over the past year, its members have continued to participate in its Counselor Connect Program, where new counseling students are connected with seasoned students to obtain peer support and guidance in transitioning to life as a graduate student. CSI also held a September 2017 workshop entitled, Working with Children of Incarcerated Parents, which was presented by Ann Adalist-Estrin, MS. Additionally, a number of counseling students were sponsored by CSI to attend the Current Topics in Counseling Conference in December 2017. CSI ventured off campus this year by supporting a local non-profit organization, The Ashley Lauren Foundation. The Ashley Lauren Foundation is based out of Spring Lake, NJ, and raises money to support children and families affected by pediatric cancer. CSI and supporting students hosted Monmouth’s first-ever dance-a-thon, Dance-for-Hope, through which over $13,000 was raised for the organization. In addition to these large-scale events, CSI hosted smaller wellness and specialization days for current counseling students to engage in self-care activities as well as to learn about specialties in counseling not frequently discussed in class.
    • Four counseling students, Madison Lawn, Helene Maliko-Abraham, Sunanda Sharma, and Emily Ramos, competed in ACA’s National Graduate Student Ethics Competition and won first place. Guided by Dr. Sarah Springer, the group collaborated to write an essay on ethics in counseling and was awarded by receiving free admission to ACA’s National Conference in April 2018.
    • India Research, Documentary, and Trip: Dr. Joanne Jodry and current graduate assistant Merritt Reid have been working in collaboration with Dr. Jon Stauff, Corey Inzana, and Gaurav Arya of Monmouth’s Global Education Department to develop a service trip to India in January 2019. While counseling students will travel throughout the country, a significant portion of the trip will be spent at an orphanage in Delhi. This orphanage is a part of the non-profit organization, One Life to Love, through which children who are underprivileged and/or have developmental disabilities receive education and support they would not receive otherwise due to India’s historical caste system. Merritt is creating a documentary of the trip, entitled “Bodhi: A Journey of Transformation”, that will track the journey of the students from their homes in New Jersey and Monmouth University to the slums of India. The purpose of the documentary is to capture students’ spiritual growth as well as to contribute to the pre-existent academic literature on transformative awakenings.
    • CSA President Jess Colucci, alumni and adjunct professor Christine Hennigan Paone, and Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Springer have been conducting research entitled, “Addressing suicidality: Examining pre-service school counselors’ perceptions of their training”. In 2017, Christine and Dr. Springer received a $500 grant from the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling for their research. Additionally, in April 2018, the group’s research proposal was accepted for the 2018 NARACES Conference in Burlington, VT, which will take place in September 2018.

Program Outcomes: Vital Statistics (as of June 2019)

  • Number of graduates from Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019: 49
  • Program completion rate: 75%
  • Licensure exam pass rate: 84%
  • Job placement rate of graduates actively seeking employment: 96%

If you would like more information regarding any of this information, please feel free to contact Dr. Jessica Burkholder (

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