By: Alyssa Hernandez, Managing Editor
The graduate school mental health counseling programs return to the School of Education to enhance current programs within the education program by offering greater educational opportunities to all majors.
These counseling programs have been training counselors since the mid-1990s and were one of the first graduate degree programs offered by Pembroke State University. Pembroke State University eventually became the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate and the Licensed School Counselor programs were originally added to the university as a part of the School of Education, after the university added a College of Health Sciences the programs were shifted there.
After Academic Affairs reviewed the structure of where academic programs are currently, they decided to move the counseling programs back to the School of Education. Dr. Loury Floyd, Dean of the School of Education, took this opportunity to improve the structure of the School of Education.
“I think what the counseling programs have to offer will help support the other programs within the School of Education,” Dr. Floyd said.
The reorganization of the School of Education created three academic departments. One of these departments was the Counseling department.
Dr. Nicole Stargell is the chair of the Counseling programs. Both programs are hybrid. At least half the classes are offered in-person while the rest are offered online. There is also a satellite program at Cape Fear Community College for students who live closer to Wilmington.
In addition to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree students can also get Graduate Certificates in Addictions Counseling. A student in either program can add a Play Therapy Graduate Certificate to their degrees. The program is designed so graduates meet the educational requirements to get a license to practice professional counseling in the state of North Carolina.
“Professional counselors work to support diverse individuals toward their mental health and wellness goals,” said Stargell.
Students from the Clinical Mental Health Counselors will work at places such as private practices, hospitals, community agencies and on college campuses. Students from this program complete their internships in Bladen, Columbus, Scotland, Hoke, Cumberland, Richmond, Moore and Brunswick counties. Licensed School Counselors can work and intern in schools. Students tend to intern at public schools in Robeson County.
Since any major can join these graduate degrees after receiving their bachelor’s degree the program teaches the basic concepts students need to know. The program then expands that knowledge through classes such as Lifespan Development, Counseling Skills and Techniques, Crisis Intervention, Gender and Sexuality, Groups in Counseling, Mental Health Issues in Childhood and Adolescence, Assessment Practices, Play Therapy Theories and Techniques and Issues in Addictions.
“We passionately demonstrate how lives can be changed through education, and we promote mental health so that many generations will have the opportunity to come to UNCP and earn undergraduate and graduate degrees,” said Dr. Stargell.
Every year staff and students do thousands of hours of service in the community each year. Doctoral intern, Sitonja Valenzuela, will be hosting study groups for the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE) for the masters’ counseling students beginning this month as a part of the service initiative.