Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions expands counseling program options

by | Dec 3, 2021 | home feature, News

Contributing Author(s): Mark Kremer

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) is excited to now offer expanded master’s degree options in counseling that help students pursue a more individualized educational journey. Starting January 2022, RMUoHP will offer a Master of Science in Addictions Counseling; a Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling; and a Master of Science in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling.

“We started with two great master’s programs—clinical mental health counseling and school counseling—then began to recognize that many students sought additional specialties,” explains Verl Pope, EdD, LCMHC, LPC, CCMHC, ACS, RMUoHP’s Counseling Programs Director. “We evaluated the needs for those options and decided to incorporate them.”

Specialized programs, like these, prepare students for their professional niche as they meet the unprecedented demand for mental health and behavioral counseling services. Faculty designed each program to train students in counseling specific patient populations. Addiction counseling, for instance, focuses on helping individuals facing a range of addictive behaviors, like substance abuse, gambling, or even gaming. Students learn to identify and assess their clients, diagnose their conditions, develop treatment plans, and create a framework to help clients maintain their progress.

Students earning a master’s in marriage, couples, and family counseling learn to systematically help people cope with close family relationships. Those pursuing a master’s in clinical rehabilitation counseling study how to creatively empower clients facing disabilities to live as independently as possible. Each degree offers a distinct, crucial set of expertise that help form the foundation for a rewarding career as a counselor.

Pope explains, “We want to make sure we train students to work in a wide range of areas. However, we know there are certain counselors who want to specialize in specific subjects and client populations. For instance, a student may be drawn to rehabilitation counseling to help veteran populations with coping with disabilities as they try to reconnect with day-to-day life.”

Part of this programmatic evolution, however, is RMUoHP’s recognition that counselors enjoy multiple areas of practice and the career flexibility offered by a versatile skill set. This is why students can efficiently earn multiple masters degrees through the dual-degree option. 

Historically, students have paired a master’s in clinical mental health counseling with a master’s in school counseling to be able to serve in a range of professional contexts. While this option is still very popular, these additions allow students to find the combinations that best lend themselves to their personal and professional goals.

“Pairing a Master of Science in Addiction Counseling with a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, for instance, allows for greater specialization as one  seeks to find and establish a professional focus,” says Pope. He likens the master’s options to a “family of programs” that complement one another as students pursue their goals.

Fortunately, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions allows students to gain these multiple specialties without taking on extensive amounts of extra coursework. While a standalone master’s degree involves 60 credits of study (roughly two years total), students can complete the dual degree option in just 72 credit hours—one to two extra semesters—along with the corresponding clinical hour requirements. 

Ultimately, these counseling programs allow for ten different degree combinations that enable students to expand and specialize their counseling practice in just an  extra semester or two of study. 

“You’ll learn to recognize other factors at play to add a broader perspective on diagnosing and developing treatment plans for your clients,” Pope explains.

These changes are inspired by RMUoHP’s institutional commitment to advancing healthcare by advancing knowledge. Building more extensive, responsive counseling options gives students access to tools that can transform their lives and the lives of others. Students seeking more information on how these changes could impact their own careers can visit RMUoHP’s programs webpage.