MA in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine Program

The Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine is a rigorous 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 with a complementary background in behavioral medicine and neuroscience. Specifically, the focus is to provide general mental health counseling training, including assessment and intervention, for clinical mental health counselors to utilize in a variety of settings. In addition, students gain knowledge and experience applying counseling skills to the prevention and treatment of medical illness. This hybrid is the first program of its kind in the United States and makes Boston University 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.

Mission

Our mission is to provide master’s-level training and experience in clinical mental health counseling within a diverse urban multicultural health context. The program utilizes a biopsychosocial model of health across the lifespan.

Program Description

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

Our curriculum consists of a combination of academic coursework and clinical mental health counseling experience completed in two years of full-time study. Students are encouraged to identify topics of interest, and are provided with education and experience related to those interests. They are also exposed to a wide array of patient populations, clinical topics, and career paths.

Clinical Health Counseling Experience

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 many sites across greater Boston, which provides a wealth of settings in which students can develop and refine their counseling skills.

Program Requirements

Candidates are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework, as well as field work experience, which constitute our clinical practicum, and internship. It is anticipated that students will complete the program in two academic years. The focus of the program is to prepare clinical mental health counselors with additional expertise in promoting health behavior change.

The program curriculum is consistent with the professional standards recommended by the American Counseling Association and American Mental Health Counseling Association and 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 are encouraged from the outset of their training to investigate the requirements of licensure for other states where they may relocate and are provided with support in ensuring that they complete the necessary coursework required to make them eligible for licensure in those states before they graduate.

Curriculum

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, areas of interest, and values.

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, psychopharmacology and behavioral medicine begins during the second semester. Students take a minimum of 30 credits during their first year. The first year practicum experience consists primarily of closely supervised and observed individual, group, and family therapy conducted in a variety of clinical settings. Students also meet in small groups with fellow students and faculty to process on-site experiences.

During year two, students are given an opportunity to explore more focused areas of interest by choosing elective courses and complete a 720-hour clinical internship where they tend to develop a clinical specialization.

More details about clinical training sites can be found on our website.

The curriculum below is that in which the typical student is enrolled. There is some variability depending on clinical site schedules and other circumstances.

MHBM Program Curriculum

Year 1 (Fall Semester)
  • GMS MH 701 Counseling Theory (3 cr)
  • 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 710 Basic Mental Health Assessment (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 901 Orientation to Professional Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 814 Clinical Research Field Work Seminar (3 cr)

Total semester hours: 18 credits

Year 1 (Spring Semester)
  • GMS MH 706 Social and Cultural Foundations (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 707 Research and Evaluation (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)
  • GMS MH 810 Psychopharmacology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 814 Clinical Research Field Work Seminar (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 902 Practicum Supervision (3 cr)

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; no required courses are offered in summer that aren’t also offered during the fall/spring academic year. 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 708 Human Growth and Development (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 712 Marriage and Family Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 714 Behavioral Medicine & Applied Health Psychology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 812 Addictions (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 922 Internship Supervision (6 cr)

Total semester hours: 12/18 credits

Year 2 (Spring Semester)
  • GMS MH 702 Professional Orientation and Ethics (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 713 Human Sexuality (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 716 Career & Vocational Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 922 Internship Supervision (6 cr)

Total semester hours: 12–15 credits

Please direct all curriculum questions to Curriculum Director Dr. Berger-Greenstein at 617-414-2330 or jberger@bu.edu.

Core Course Requirements

  • GMS MH 701 Counseling Theory (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 702 Professional Orientation and Ethics (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 703 Counseling Techniques (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 704 Group Work Dynamics & Process (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 705 Psychopathology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 706 Social and Cultural Foundations (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 707 Research and Evaluation (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 708 Human Growth and Development (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 709 Neuroscience for Mental Health Professionals (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 710 Basic Mental Health Assessment (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 714 Behavioral Medicine and Applied Health Psychology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 716 Career and Vocational Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 810 Psychopharmacology (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 812 Addictions (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 901 Orientation to Professional Counseling (3 cr)

Program Electives

  • GMS MH 712 Marriage and Family Counseling (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 713 Human Sexuality (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 717 Theory and Practice of Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 cr)

In addition to the above courses, a select number of students can enroll in our Clinical Research Field Work Seminar (GMS MH 814). This experience provides them with on-site laboratory training and experience working with a team conducting clinical research in fields such as Addictions and HIV/AIDS.

Practicum and Internship Requirements

  • GMS MH 902 Clinical Practicum II (3 cr)
  • GMS MH 921 Internship Supervision (6 cr)
  • GMS MH 922 Internship Supervision (6 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 & Medical Disorders
  • Severe & Chronic Mental Illness
  • Acute/Crisis Intervention
  • Trauma Recovery
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Substance Abuse
  • Health Psychology
  • Mood Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Forensic Psychiatry

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

  • Inpatient Psychiatry
  • Outpatient Behavioral Health
  • Residential Treatment
  • Home-Based Services
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs
  • Middle School & High School Settings
  • College Counseling
  • Individual, Group & Family Interventions

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 achieve a minimum score of 60% on the CPCE; this is a requirement for graduation. Successful completion of the CPCE will be reflected on students’ transcripts.