MA in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine Program

The Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine is a CACREP-accredited program designed to meet the requirements for independent licensure in clinical mental health counseling in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other states. The primary objective of the program is to prepare students for careers in clinical mental health counseling and to provide them with a complementary background in behavioral medicine, health psychology, and neuroscience. Specifically, students complete coursework and provide 1,000 hours of clinical fieldwork experience, including assessments and interventions, for clinical mental health counselors to utilize in a variety of settings. In addition, students gain knowledge and experience applying counseling skills to promoting health behavior change and treatment of medical illness. This hybrid is the first program of its kind in the United States and the only program of its kind housed in an academic medical school, which makes the Boston University School of Medicine a leader in preparing master’s-level clinical mental health clinicians. For other highlights of the program and more general information, see this program information on the School of Medicine site. Our graduates have a wide range of specialties and work in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • Elementary/middle/high schools
  • College counseling centers
  • Eating disorder clinics
  • Crisis stabilization and emergency room settings
  • In-home counseling for families
  • Prisons
  • Nursing homes
  • General outpatient settings for children, adolescents, and/or adults
  • Methadone maintenance clinics, other substance use disorder settings
  • Veteran’s Administration hospitals
  • Private practice
  • Hospital behavioral health clinics
  • Partial hospitalization programs


The mission of the Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine (MHCBM) master’s degree program at Boston University School of Medicine is to provide exceptional academic and clinical fieldwork experience that emphasizes the core competencies of clinical mental health counseling with complementary training in behavioral medicine, health psychology, and neuroscience. Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the MHCBM Program places great value on excellence, diversity, integrity, social justice, advocacy, collegiality, equality of opportunity, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our program offers theoretical, experiential, clinical, and evidence-based activities related to clinical mental health counseling with adults, adolescents, and children on the Medical Campus as well as in community settings. We accept and educate a broad range of outstanding students who seek careers as clinical mental health counselors. Our modal graduate becomes independently licensed and provides care in settings where traditional mental health interventions can be informed by evidence-based practice, an understanding of neuroscience and neuroanatomy, and strategies to address physical illness and health promotion as part of multidisciplinary and multispecialty care. A small handful of our graduates choose to go on to pursue doctoral-level training.

Program Description

The Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine Program is a two-year Master of Arts program. Our graduates provide direct clinical and mental health counseling services to clients across a wide range of medical, research, mental health, and independent practice settings.

In addition, students are encouraged to identify areas of interest, and are provided with options for elective courses and clinical training placements related to those interests.

As a CACREP-accredited program, our curriculum meets the standards for CACREP’s eight core areas; we also train students in a manner that reflects the professional standards recommended by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). Our program is designed to meet the educational requirements for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as granted by the Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Service Professionals. Students interested in pursuing licensure in other states work closely with faculty mentors to identify these states’ requirements for licensure, and are provided with support in ensuring that they complete the necessary coursework and experience before they graduate. Of note, CACREP accreditation is now a requirement for licensure in several states, and the trend is for this to become a national requirement.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Experiences

The program requires that students gain direct experiences in clinical mental health counseling and receive close supervision and support throughout their training. We have training agreements with more than 100 agencies across greater Boston, which provides a wealth of settings in which students can develop and refine their counseling skills, in accordance with their interests.

Program Requirements

Candidates are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework, as well as fieldwork experience, which constitute our clinical practicum and internship. Students can expect to complete the program in two academic years. In addition to required courses, described below, students choose a minimum of two electives from those available in our program. Students may also choose to take courses of interest in programs within the Graduate Medical Sciences system.

Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination

The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) is a nationally administered, standardized exam that measures the competency of students graduating from the MA in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine program. Students must earn a minimum score at or above our program-identified standard in order to graduate.


The emphasis of our program is on preparing students to provide effective and ethical clinical treatment for a variety of populations, disorders, and settings. Coursework is designed to augment on-site clinical experience and to prepare students for their work, as well as to promote insight of students’ relative strengths and weaknesses, values, areas of interest, and identification of roles and opportunities for clinical mental health counselors.

Our course curriculum is structured in such a way as to provide instruction in basic skills during the first semester, so that students are best prepared to begin their on-site clinical training in the second semester of their first year. An introduction to neuroscience and psychopharmacology begins during the second semester. Students take a minimum of 30 credits during their first year.

During year two, students take courses focused on application and special topics, as described below, and complete a 720-hour clinical internship where they develop a clinical specialization. More details about clinical training sites can be found on our website.

Students’ practicum experience takes place either spring of year one or the summer between years one and two. This training consists primarily of closely supervised and observed individual, group, and family counseling, and experience with clinical assessment and crisis management in a variety of clinical settings. Students also meet in small groups with fellow students and faculty to process on-site experiences and present cases.

The curriculum below is that in which the typical student is enrolled. There is some variability depending on clinical site schedules and other circumstances. Courses not identified as electives are required.

MHBM Program Curriculum

Year 1 (Fall Semester)
  • GMS MH 703 Counseling Techniques (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 704 Group Work Dynamics and Process (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 705 Psychopathology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 707 Research and Evaluation (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 710 Basic Mental Health Assessment (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 901 Orientation to Professional Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 814 Clinical Field Research Seminar (3 cr elective; dependent on availability)

Total semester hours: 18 credits

Year 1 (Spring Semester)
  • GMS MH 701 Counseling Theory (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 706 Social and Cultural Foundations (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 709 Neuroscience for Mental Health Professionals (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 717 Theory and Practice of Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 cr elective)
  • GMS MH 810 Psychopharmacology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 902 Practicum Supervision (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 814 Clinical Field Research Seminar (3 cr elective; dependent on availability)

Total semester hours: 12–18 credits

Year 1 (Summer Session I)

A minimum of two academic courses are offered during Summer Session I each year. Specific courses vary from year to year, depending on students’ interests. Summer courses are optional in our program. Most students who elect to take summer courses take both of the courses that we offer. Students may also elect to complete their Practicum training during the summer rather than spring.

Total semester hours: 3–9 credits

Year 2 (Fall Semester)
  • GMS MH 702 Professional Orientation and Ethics (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 708 Human Growth and Development (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 712 Marriage and Family Counseling (3 cr elective)
  • GMS MH 812 Addictions (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 922 Internship Supervision (3 cr)

Total semester hours: 15/18 credits

Year 2 (Spring Semester)
  • GMS MH 713 Human Sexuality (3 cr elective)
  • GMS MH 714 Behavioral Medicine & Applied Health Psychology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 716 Career & Vocational Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 922 Internship Supervision (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 718 Psychological Trauma Across the Lifespan (3 cr)

Total semester hours: 12–15 credits

Please direct all curriculum questions to our Curriculum Director, Dr. Berger-Greenstein, at 617-358-6579 or

The Clinical Field Research Seminar (GMS MH 814) provides students with on-site laboratory training and experience working with a team conducting clinical research, with specific topics varying year to year. Availability of this class is dependent on research funding for labs that are able to take integrate students into their work.

Practicum and Internship Requirements

  • GMS MH 902 Practicum Supervision (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 921 Internship Supervision (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 922 Internship Supervision (3 cr)

Our students receive excellent practicum and internship training in a wide variety of sites, including Boston Medical Center and programs throughout the greater Boston area. Some of the presenting problems for which our students provide care include:

  • Child, Adolescent, Adult & Geriatric Populations
  • Emotional, Behavioral, & Developmental Disorders
  • Severe & Chronic Mental Illness
  • Acute/Crisis Intervention
  • Trauma Recovery
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Substance Abuse
  • Psychiatric Sequelae of Medical Conditions
  • Mood Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Forensic Psychiatry

Clinical training also differs by the nature of the site and specific modalities of treatment. Examples include:

  • Inpatient Psychiatry
  • Outpatient Behavioral Health
  • Residential Treatment
  • Home-Based Services
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs
  • Middle School & High School Settings
  • College Counseling
  • Eating Disorder Settings
  • Trauma Services (acute and ongoing)
  • Prisons