Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Answer Your Call To Help Others With a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

One of the first steps toward licensure in your state is to obtain your master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. Once a master’s degree is obtained, you will need to complete necessary examinations, supervision and counseling hours specific to your state. Once licensure is obtained, licensed clinical mental health counselors can work with individuals, couples, families and groups. Counselors focus on discovering underlying causes for mental health distress and aide in treating symptoms of mental and emotional concerns.1 If you feel that God has called you to serve those who are struggling with psychological, social and/or behavioral issues, you can earn your Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Grand Canyon University. A master’s degree is a required step before licensure can be achieved your respective state.2

This MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program is offered both online and through in-person evening classes by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The graduate program provides opportunities to study and apply evidence-based counseling theories and practical applications. As a student, you will be instructed to develop a greater awareness of social and cultural trends and equipped, providing the foundation to serve diverse populations. Furthermore, you will examine legal and professional standards, and are encouraged to think critically about current ethical issues that you may encounter in future practice as a clinical mental health counselor.

71,500

Number of new jobs estimated to open for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors from 2022 to 2032.3

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When you pursue your master’s degree online at GCU, you will have access to our digital online learning platform and support from knowledgeable counselor educators. The majority of the courses in the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program are offered online, allowing you the flexibility to complete the coursework while balancing your other responsibilities.

For those who require flexibility, but prefer to take classes in person, GCU offers this master’s program through evening classes on campus. You will have face and synchronous time with your counselor education faculty and peers as well as access to campus facilities, events and student resources. GCU’s evening programs are scheduled one class at a time and are in person one day per week so you can fit it into your schedule.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Course Topics

Effective clinical mental health counselors are strong communicators, active listeners and empathetic, compassionate people who can make genuine connections with their clients. In this master’s in clinical mental health counseling degree program, you will explore the client-counselor relationship and learn to establish appropriate boundaries.

You will have the opportunity to learn how to evaluate and apply evidence-based research to your practice. This program also offers a career counseling course, which provides a broad understanding of career development and decisions as a clinical mental health counselor.

Additionally, the courses in this master’s program will cover these key topic areas:

  • The stages, processes and effects of substance use disorders, including the social and emotional dynamics of these disorders
  • Multicultural counseling theories and identity development
  • Group counseling dynamics, theories and ethical standards
  • Evidence-based assessment procedures for determining a client’s mental or emotional status
  • The basic principles of psychopharmacology and the effects of psychoactive substances

As a student in the clinical mental health counseling program, you will need to complete the counseling practicum and two internship experiences. These provide supervised clinical experience in the counseling field.

Career Opportunities With an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The master’s in clinical mental health counseling covers a variety of topics so you can pursue a career helping diverse clients reach their full potential. Once you obtain your master’s in counseling degree, you will need to take the necessary exams and complete supervision and counseling hours as a post-graduate before achieving licensure.

Once licensed in your state, clinical mental health counselors will have the opportunity to offer counseling services for substance use, trauma, depression, and other mental health needs. Licensed clinical mental health counselors often practice in the following settings:

  • Community-based organizations
  • Nonprofits
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Private practices
  • Telehealth

Take Clinical Mental Health Counseling Courses From an Accredited University

GCU’s master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling graduate program is designed to meet the academic requirements of the National Board for Certified Counselors for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, the Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) credential and the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.

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GCU’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree can help prepare graduates to work toward professional licensure. The program meets the academic requirements for licensure in Arizona as a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Students who wish to practice in another state should check the state’s specific requirements.

Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling FAQs

If you would like to learn more about earning a clinical mental health counseling degree, please read our answers to these frequently asked questions:

If you are passionate about assisting others through the trials and hardships of life, a counseling degree is worth considering. All states require a master’s degree for counselor licensure purposes,2 so this clinical mental health counseling degree can help bring you a step closer toward achieving your goal of licensure. Once licensed, you will have the opportunity to work in various settings with individuals, groups and families of diverse ages and backgrounds.

The length of a master’s program varies, but GCU’s clinical mental health counseling program requires 62 credits to graduate. Most of the courses are eight weeks in length. The practicum course is 12 weeks and each of the two internships are 16 weeks long. The internships allow students to gain valuable hands-on experience in the counseling field while undergoing supervision.

GCU’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree is available online and allows you to work from your home or office. With a graduate degree in counseling from GCU, you can work toward achieving licensure in your desired state. GCU offers an in-person option to complete coursework as well, for individuals who prefer in-person courses. The clinical mental health counseling degree covers many aspects of mental health including ethical considerations, diagnosis and treatment.

There is a practicum and two required internship courses at the end of this program that provide students valuable experience in the field to be prepared to serve as global mental health counselors.

GCU ensures that the academic rigor of this degree meets the academic requirements of the National Board for Certified Counselors for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, the Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) credential and the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.

The clinical mental health counseling program at GCU is designed to meet the high academic standards of national credentialing entities for certified counselors. The courses, internships and practicum are rigorous in order to help prepare graduates for clinical mental health counseling.

1 American Mental Health Counselors Association. (n.d.). Becoming Essential. Retrieved on July 11, 2023.

2 ACA. Licensure Requirements. American Counseling Association. Retrieved on June 7, 2023.

3 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors, retrieved on Sept. 11, 2023.

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TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 62
Online: 8 weeks
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TRANSFER CREDITS:
The coursework in this program is non-transferable from other institutions.
TUITION RATE:
Online: $575 per credit [More Info]

Course List

Major:
62 credits
Degree Requirements:
62 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed as an orientation for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in counseling. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of counseling ethics, legal standards, and responsibilities, including professional identity, report writing, record keeping, and service reimbursement for clinical mental health and school counselors. Additionally, the history of and current trends in counseling are addressed. Important goals of this course are to help students develop a strong personal and professional ethic, as well as an appreciation of the value of professional collaboration and identity.

Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive survey of the major counseling theories and principles. Coursework includes the following theories: psychoanalytic, Adlerian, existential psychotherapy, behavioral, cognitive behavioral, person-centered, reality therapy/choice theory, and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT).

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of the stages, processes, and effects of substance use disorders, biological, social, and psychological dynamics of substance use disorders, and the professional's role in prevention, intervention, and aftercare, including recovery and relapse prevention. This course explores theories and models of treatment of addiction disorders to include understanding different types of addiction disorders, effective skills, drug classification, and assessment. It also continues building foundational knowledge, utilization of professional resources, and exploration of standards to help students prepare for licensure/certification within the counseling industry.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of counseling processes, including characteristics and behaviors that influence the helping processes. Included are age, gender, ethnic differences, verbal and nonverbal behaviors, personal characteristics, and orientations. The development of counseling techniques is emphasized, including establishing and maintaining the counseling relationship; diagnosing and identifying the problem; formulating a preventative, treatment, or rehabilitative plan; facilitating appropriate interventions; and successfully terminating the counseling relationship.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society. Studies in this area include the following: attitudes and behaviors based on such factors as age, race, religious preference, physical disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity and culture, family patterns, gender, socioeconomic status and intellectual ability; individual, family, group, and community strategies for working with diverse populations; theories of multicultural counseling and identity development; multicultural competencies; and issues such as substance use disorders. Students examine a variety of cultural populations, exploring issues and trends that are associated with each population. Cultural considerations for immigrants, refugees, and undocumented citizens are also addressed.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of group development, group dynamics, group counseling theories, and ethical standards with reference to professional and substance use disorders counseling. The course addresses group process components, appropriate selection criteria, developmental stage theories, group members’ roles and behaviors; and group leadership styles and approaches. The course includes didactic and experiential group learning. Required synchronous group experience: 12 hours. Prerequisite: CNL-515.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the basic principles of psychopharmacology and the effects of psychoactive substances. Students examine the behavioral, psychological, physiological and social effects of psychoactive substance use, and learn to recognize symptoms of intoxication, withdrawal, and toxicity. The class covers various screening options, limitations, legal implications, and the utilization of pharmacotherapy as part of substance addiction treatment.

Course Description

This course is divided into two distinct and separate sections. The first part of the course examines human sexuality and systems of sexual therapy. Psychological, biological, social, and moral perspectives on sexual development and functioning are also examined. The last part of the course provides an understanding of the nature of aging and older adults. Theories and strategies for facilitating optimum care of older adults are addressed. Elder abuse, dependent adult abuse, and neglect of the aging and older adults are explored. Sexuality, mental health, physical health, the role of substance use disorders, and family issues are also addressed.

Course Description

This course provides an understanding of the nature, needs, and differing abilities of individuals at all developmental levels. Theories of individual and family development, transitions across the life span, theories of learning, theories of personality development, and ethical and cultural strategies for facilitating optimum development over the life span are addressed.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of the structure and dynamics of couples and families, which includes theory, assessment, and application of couples and family intervention and counseling.

Course Description

This eight-topic course is divided into three distinct and separate sections. The first three topics examine crisis intervention and trauma counseling; Theories and strategies of trauma counseling and facilitating crisis interventions are also addressed. The second three topics examine spousal or partner abuse assessment, detection, and intervention strategies. The legal and ethical issues, the role of substance use disorders, and children in families where domestic violence and abuse occur are also addressed. The last two topics examine child abuse assessment and reporting. Legal and ethical issues and specific California child abuse assessment and reporting codes are also examined.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to basic tests and appraisal in counseling. Individual and group approaches to testing, assessment, evaluation, behavioral observations, computer-managed and computer-assisted methods are addressed. The following statistical concepts are also addressed: scales of measurement, measures of central tendency, indices of variability, shapes and types of distributions, correlations, reliability, and validity.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of career development and related life factors including psychotherapy, career counseling techniques and processes, career development theories, decision-making models, issues of diversity, and interrelationships between work and family.

Course Description

This course introduces research methods and basic statistical analysis, including the following: the importance of research, opportunities for research, and difficulties in conducting research. Research methods such as qualitative, quantitative, single-case designs, action research, and outcome-based research are addressed.

Course Description

This course provides a conceptual framework for the use of assessment and diagnostic tools for the development of appropriate treatment interventions for a variety of behavioral health and substance use disorders. Included is an introduction to the use of the diagnostic tools, including the DSM, and the integration of diagnostic and assessment information, in the development of treatment plans.

Course Description

This course introduces the study of mental illnesses and the science of psychopathology. The goal is to provide counseling students a conceptual understanding of psychological and behavioral dysfunction that occurs in mental illnesses. The course includes a survey of major psychiatric disorders and their causes.

Course Description

Students in this course are introduced to a variety of testing instruments used to determine a client's emotional or mental status. Assessment procedures are explored within the context of diagnosis and treatment planning. This course focuses on the administration and interpretation of individual and group standardized tests of mental ability, personality, and measurement.

Course Description

The practicum course is a distinctly defined, supervised clinical fieldwork experience in which the student develops basic counseling skills and integrates professional knowledge under the supervision of a faculty member or an on-site clinical site supervisor approved by the college or university with a minimum of 1 hour per week of individualized and/or triadic supervision throughout the practicum. Practicum students participate in an average of 1 ½ hours per week of group supervision via Zoom with a counseling faculty member or student supervisor who is under the supervision of a counselor education program faculty member on a regular schedule throughout the practicum. Documentation of a minimum requirement of 100 hours of counseling-related activities, which includes 40 direct client contact hours, is submitted directly to the college’s Office of Field Experience for verification and tracking. The practicum is completed prior to the internship; therefore, students may not progress to CNL-664A without the required amount of hours submitted, the required amount of individual and group supervision, and proper approval. This course has multiple synchronous required activities. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course in order to progress to the internship. Practicum/field experience hours: 100. State licensure requirements may mandate additional hours. Students must review and adhere to their state board's additional requirements. Prerequisites: Completion of all didactic coursework in the program; a GPA of 3.0 or better; and maintenance of student professional liability insurance in the amount of $1 million, $3 million.

Course Description

The internship course is a distinctly defined, supervised clinical experience in which the student refines and enhances basic counseling and student development of knowledge and skills, and integrates and authenticates professional knowledge and skills related to program objectives. The internship is performed under the supervision of an on-site clinical site supervisor approved by the college or university with an average of 1 hour per week of individualized and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship. Internship students participate in a minimum of 1 ½ hours per week of group supervision via Zoom with a counseling faculty member or student supervisor who is under the supervision of a counselor education program faculty member on a regular schedule throughout the internship. Documentation of 300 hours of counseling-related activities, which includes a required minimum of 120 direct client contact hours, is submitted directly to the college’s Office of Field Experience for verification and tracking. Internship hours: A minimum of 300 total hours of which 120 is total direct hours. Students must successfully complete CNL-624 before progressing to the internship. This course has multiple synchronous required activities. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course in order to meet the internship requirements. Practicum/field experience hours: 300. State licensure requirements may mandate additional hours. Students must review and adhere to their state board's additional requirements. Prerequisites: CNL-624; a GPA of 3.0 or better; maintenance of student professional liability insurance in the amount of $1 million, $3 million; and college approval.

Course Description

The internship course is a distinctly defined, supervised clinical experience in which the student refines and enhances basic counseling and student development of knowledge and skills, and integrates and authenticates professional knowledge and skills related to program objectives. The internship is performed under the supervision of an on-site clinical site supervisor approved by the college or university with an average of 1 hour per week of individualized and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship. Internship students participate in a minimum of 1 ½ hours per week of group supervision via Zoom with a counseling faculty member or student supervisor who is under the supervision of a counselor education program faculty member on a regular schedule throughout the internship. Documentation of 300 hours of counseling-related activities, which includes a required minimum of 120 direct client contact hours, is submitted directly to the college’s Office of Field Experience for verification and tracking. This course has multiple synchronous required activities. Students must be prepared to be flexible in meeting the demands of this course in order to meet the internship requirements. Practicum/field experience hours: 300. State licensure requirements may mandate additional hours. Students must review and adhere to their state board's additional requirements. Prerequisites: CNL-624 and CNL-664A; a GPA of 3.0 or better; maintenance of student professional liability insurance in the amount of $1 million, $3 million; and college approval.

Locations

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student


Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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