Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.A.)

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a 60-credit program that prepares students for counseling positions in community agencies, mental health agencies, hospitals, government facilities, institutions of higher education, industry and private practice. This program meets the academic requirements for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and most other states. It also meets all educational requirements for certification as a National Certified Counselor (NCC)Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS)Board Certified Coach (BCC) and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) in New Jersey. Students may take two additional courses and a SAC practicum in a school to qualify for the Student Assistance Coordinator (SAC) CEAS Master's students in their final year are provided with preparation for the National Counselor Exam (NCE) which is taken during their last semester at Rider.

In keeping with the University's core mission, all degree and certification programs are student-centered, created to be flexible to meet the needs of returning and professional students with busy lives, provide cutting-edge instruction, hands-on practice in mental health organizations and agencies, and supportive faculty who are dedicated to mentoring students. The faculty and training are focused on wellness counseling and positive psychology, with an emphasis on clients’ strengths, rather than on deficits.

Curriculum Overview

All students in this area of study are required to complete 60 credits of coursework and to participate in at least 700 hours of counseling fieldwork in an agency. An appropriate agency for the intern is one which provides a program of services designed to help individuals function to their optimal capacity.  Such programs exist in a wide variety of settings, such as mental health clinics, correctional facilities, hospital settings, family service centers, comprehensive rehabilitation centers, social service organizations, vocational counseling programs, private counseling programs, substance abuse treatment programs, employee assistance programs, college counseling centers, and other appropriate sites.

All degree candidates must purchase student professional liability insurance.

Degree Offered

M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Emmanuel Ahia, Ph.D., J.D., LPC, NCC
Professor and Director
Ed.S. Counseling Program & M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Memorial 202E

Program Website: Clinical Mental Health
Associated Department:  Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling

Accreditation Information: The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program has been accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) since 1999. The program is accredited until October 31, 2022.

Related programs

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Requirements

Refer to Counseling Services Handbook for course sequence and prerequisites.

Core Courses that Must Be Taken Prior to Practicum
CNPY 502Theories of Counseling and Helping Professions3
CNPY 514Psychopathology3
COUN 500Introduction to Counseling and Helping Professions3
COUN 503Group Counseling3
COUN 508Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling3
COUN 530Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy3
COUN 550Counseling Techniques Laboratory3
EDPS 503Human Growth and Development3
Courses that Must Be Taken Prior to or Concurrently with Practicum
COUN 520Multicultural Counseling and Relationship Development3
COUN 505Vocational/Career Development3
EDPS 520Measurement,Tests and Assessments in Counseling/School Psychology3
Courses that Must Be Taken at the End of the Program
COUN 585Clinical Mental Health Counseling Practicum3
COUN 590Internship in Counseling I3
COUN 591Internship in Counseling II3
COUN 660Counseling Supervision: Issues, Concepts and Methods3
Courses that Can Be Taken at Anytime
COUN 515Substance Abuse Counseling 13
COUN 516Strategies in Addiction Counseling3
CNPY 516Advanced Psychopathology3
EDUC 500Introduction To Research3
Elective 2
Three credit hours of an elective must be taken with permission of program advisor
COUN 510Approaches to Family Counseling3
or COUN 535 Holistic Wellness Counseling
or COUN 525 Gender Issues in Counseling
or CNPY 518 Counseling Children, Adolescents and Families
or EDPS 521 Statistics and Quantitative Analysis
or EDPS 502 Psychological Development of the Child and Adolescent
or EDUC 530 Student Affairs & Experiences in Higher Education
Total Credits60

Highly qualified undergraduate psychology majors are eligible to apply in their junior year for the accelerated BA-MA program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This program enables students to take graduate courses during their senior year that count toward both the bachelor's and master's degrees.

Applicants for this accelerated program must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and must meet the same admission requirements as all other applicants. Students must apply by February 10 of their junior year. Those admitted must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the bachelor’s part of the program. In addition, performance in graduate-level courses is subject to all academic policies and requirements of the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, & Counseling.

Students accepted into the CMHC accelerated program who would like to complete the BA/MA in 5 ½ years will take the following 15 credits of graduate courses during their senior year, in addition to the necessary undergraduate courses:

COUN 500Introduction to Counseling and Helping Professions3
COUN 503Group Counseling3
COUN 550Counseling Techniques Laboratory3
CNPY 502Theories of Counseling and Helping Professions3
CNPY 514Psychopathology3

* Undergraduate students who would like to take fewer than 15 graduate credits during their senior year are also eligible to apply for the accelerated program. Taking fewer than 15 courses as an undergraduate student may mean that it will take longer than 5 ½ years to complete the BA/MA.

Following successful completion of the undergraduate program, students will automatically be matriculated into the Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA-degree program, where they will complete the remaining MA-level coursework.

Note: The graduate credits taken during the student’s senior year would appear in the GPA and credit hours of the undergraduate transcript until the student matriculates as a graduate student into the counseling program. This ensures that all decisions about the undergraduate student while he/she is still in the psychology program will be on the basis of his/her complete academic performance. After the student receives the bachelor’s degree and matriculates into the Master’s program, all graduate courses will then be included on the graduate transcript in the GPA and credit hours, and a note to that effect will appear on the undergraduate transcript. Course credits will not be counted on both transcripts.

Courses and Descriptions

CNPY 502 Theories of Counseling and Helping Professions 3 Credits

Introduces the theoretical constructs of the primary contemporary counseling psychology theories being used in the counseling profession today. The theoretical constructs will be explored for use for self-reflection and self-development and to serve as the basis for development of psychological maps for understanding purposes of clients’ behaviors.

Prerequisite(s): COUN 500 or as corequisite.

CNPY 514 Psychopathology 3 Credits

A survey of the study of abnormal psychology. Includes classification, assessment, and treatment and prevention of psychopathology. Characteristics of healthy psychological functioning are examined. Biological, psychological, and sociocultural bases of well-adjusted and maladjusted behavior patterns are considered. Stress, anxiety, and milder forms of psychopathology are considered, as are more severe psychopathological conditions.

CNPY 516 Advanced Psychopathology 3 Credits

An in-depth study of psychopathology with emphasis on developmental and personality disorders, and physiological disturbances. Includes assessment, classification, and treatment with emphasis on utilization in a variety of counseling and school settings. Biological, pathological, pharmacological bases of mental disorders are introduced and discussed in relationship to specific disorder classifications.

Prerequisite(s): CNPY514 or permission of instructor.

CNPY 518 Counseling Children, Adolescents and Families 3 Credits

This course will emphasize counselor and consultant behaviors that facilitate the helping process with children, adolescents, and their families. Information and activities will be provided that address age, ethnic, and developmental considerations in counseling children and adolescents. Issues and practices related to crisis intervention will be explored.

COUN 500 Introduction to Counseling and Helping Professions 3 Credits

Educational, social, and psychological foundations of counseling services. Basic theories, principles, and techniques of counseling and related helping professions, such as coaching, and their applications to professional services. Emphasizes self-awareness as related to becoming a facilitator of helping skills. The team approach to counseling services and the contribution of the various specialties within the total counseling services program are stressed.

COUN 503 Group Counseling 3 Credits

Analyzes the historical development of group treatment methods, theories, practices, methods for appraising outcomes of treatment, and research findings. Includes critique of recordings, demonstrations, and students’ own group experiences as counseling group members.

Prerequisite(s): COUN 500, CNPY 502.

COUN 505 Vocational/Career Development 3 Credits

Includes organizational change and vocational development theories, research, and literature in the field to inform practice with clients with vocational/career concern. The problems and techniques of using occupational and career information, assessment tools, educational and vocational goal setting, conflict management strategies, and individual and group processes are stressed. Includes concepts of career/life planning and counseling and coaching techniques, lifespan transitions, and the interrelationships among work, family, and other life roles.

COUN 508 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling 3 Credits

This course will provide the foundation of community counseling including roles, policies, history, diversity, systems, programs, interventions, fiscal issues, community resources, consultation, advocacy, and assessment that are unique to community counselors. Projects include searching for government and foundation funding, writing a grant proposal, developing a resource directory, visiting and writing reports evaluating community agencies. This course also meets Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards for Community Counseling Programs.

COUN 510 Approaches to Family Counseling 3 Credits

Presents a basic understanding of major approaches of family counseling. Family counseling approaches covered include structural, systems, Ackerman, Satir, and analytical. These approaches are presented as related to major problem centered family concerns--child-rearing concerns, alcohol, drugs, child abuse, dysfunctional marriage, divorce, etc. Emphasizes self-awareness as related to family development.

Prerequisite(s): COUN 500, CNPY 502, or permission of instructor or advisor.

COUN 515 Substance Abuse Counseling 3 Credits

Analyzes the development, intervention, and treatment of drug abuse and alcoholism. Designed to assist counselors in identifying drug abuse and alcoholism, examining the specialized approaches of counseling with these clients and reviewing the related elements; i.e., family participation, physical problems, effects on school or job, etc.

COUN 516 Strategies in Addiction Counseling 3 Credits

Analyzes the development, intervention and treatment of co-dependents. Designed to focus on the characteristics of co-dependency and how they were initiated in alcoholic families as well as other dysfunctional families. Symptoms will be discussed in terms of problems with intimacy, trust, eating disorders, assertiveness, love relationships and the differences among co-dependents. Specialized approaches to treating these areas will be discussed. (Classes will involve lecture, discussion and students will learn and experience group exercises for co-dependency treatment.)

Prerequisite(s): COUN 515 or permission of instructor.

COUN 520 Multicultural Counseling and Relationship Development 3 Credits

Introduces, examines, and critically analyzes and reflects upon major origins and dimensions of human similarities and differences. Explores and personalizes the social-psychological and behavioral implications of these similarities and differences. Examines issues of racism, reverse racism, age and handicapped discrimination, sexism, sexual orientation, etc., in the light of theories of individual and group identity development and the impact of these on, between and within group relationships. Each student is expected to utilize this knowledge for the development of healthy multicultural skills. A semester-long engagement in a multicultural interaction and a presentation of a multicultural discovery project are required.

COUN 525 Gender Issues in Counseling 3 Credits

Examines the psychological, physiological, historical, and socio-cultural factors that affect the development of women and men across the life span and discusses implications for counseling. Focuses on relevant gender issues including gender bias and equity, misdiagnosis, self-esteem, depression, violence and sexual abuse, the feminization of poverty, and the importance of relationship for women. Presents an overview of feminist psychotherapy and explores the context of the behavioral, emotional and biological problems that impact on mental health. Also discusses the emerging men’s movement and trends in counseling men; introduces gay and lesbian issues, the issues of minority women, and factors in counseling the HIV/AIDS client.

COUN 530 Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy 3 Credits

Examines and analyzes the legal, ethical, and professional parameters of counseling and psychotherapy. Discusses legal liabilities and malpractice cases arising from constitutional, tort, contract, family, privacy, and criminal laws. Examines client rights and counselor duties and responsibilities. Explores legal, ethical, and professional implications of third party payment, informed consent, medication, case documentation, client termination and abandonment. Advertisement of counseling services, crisis and case management, consultation and supervision, "duty-to-warn" and court appearances of an expert witness will be explored. Special attention will be given to child abuse reporting issues, dual relationships and to regional legal and ethical developments.

COUN 535 Holistic Wellness Counseling 3 Credits

Based on current methods and research, students will explore holistic wellness (e.g., spirituality, self-direction, work and leisure, friendship, and love) positive psychology (e.g., hope, forgiveness, etc.), and human change from personal and interpersonal perspectives.

Prerequisite(s): CNPY 502.

COUN 550 Counseling Techniques Laboratory 3 Credits

A basic laboratory pre-practicum for counseling services majors which provides opportunities for both observation of and participation in counseling activities. The purpose of this course is to provide students with their initial counseling experience under closely supervised conditions. The focus of this course is the development of basic counseling skills through an emphasis on techniques (basic and advanced listening and helping skills), strategy (the counseling process), and self development (the student as counselor) grounded in professional counseling theories.

COUN 585 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Practicum 3 Credits

A supervised experience in counseling and consulting techniques in mental health facility, community counseling agency, or college setting. Includes seminar discussions, interview analyses or audiotape/videotape observations, and individual supervision with the instructor. For the experienced counselor or the advanced counselor in training who desires to review and/or strengthen individual counseling and consulting techniques. A field placement of 100 hours is required with a minimum of 40 direct contact hours with clients. Students registering for this course should contact the instructor the semester prior to the course being offered.

Prerequisite(s): To be taken semester prior to COUN 590.

COUN 590 Internship in Counseling I 3 Credits

An internship that provides 300 hours of on-the-job experience, including all activities that a regularly employed staff member would be expected to perform. The internship placement is selected on the basis of the student’s career goals. School and agency counselors who supervise interns determine the structure and the content of the internship in cooperation with the Rider supervisor. The approval and cooperation of the student’s superintendent, principal, or other appropriate administrative personnel must be obtained the semester before the counselor candidate’s internship is scheduled.

Prerequisite(s): all other required course work must be completed or in progress and permission of the Rider supervisor must be obtained; any exceptions must be approved by the instructor.

COUN 591 Internship in Counseling II 3 Credits

The continuation of an internship that provides a 300-hour field experience including all activities that a regularly employed staff member would be expected to perform (n.b., a regularly employed staff member is defined as a person occupying the professional role to which the student is aspiring). The internship placement is selected on the basis of the intern’s career goals. School and agency counselors who supervise interns determine the structure and the content of the internship in cooperation with the faculty supervisor. The approval and cooperation of the intern’s agency or school field supervisor must be obtained the semester prior to the actual placement.

Prerequisite(s): COUN 590 and all other required course work must be completed or in progress and permission of the faculty supervisor must be obtained; any exceptions must be approved by the faculty supervisor.

COUN 660 Counseling Supervision: Issues, Concepts and Methods 3 Credits

This course introduces and critically examines issues and concepts that arise in the supervision of counseling and psychotherapy practitioners and trainees. Methods and techniques of supervision are presented to enable students to become knowledgeable and skilled providers of proficient clinical supervision. Psychotherapeutic, behavioral, integrative, systems, experiential, and developmental models of supervision are studied. The unique problems encountered in group, family, and couples counseling supervision are raised as well as legal, ethical, and multicultural issues. Administrative and contemporary issues such as inter- and intra-agency supervision, inter-agency communication, record keeping, evaluation, and taping of counseling sessions are examined.

Prerequisites: COUN 590.

EDPS 502 Psychological Development of the Child and Adolescent 3 Credits

Surveys of psychological principles applied to counseling services with emphasis on developmental processes, individual differences, and mental health. Concepts and theoretical orientations to human development from conception through adolescence. The analysis, interpretation, and practical implications of significant research that has contributed most to the knowledge of human development of the child and adolescent.

EDPS 503 Human Growth and Development 3 Credits

Provides an overview and broad understanding of life span developmental theories and research applied to counseling services with special emphasis on developmental processes, individual differences and mental health. Includes strategies for working with developmental issues across the life span.

EDPS 520 Measurement,Tests and Assessments in Counseling 3 Credits

This course covers the use of assessment instruments in counseling practice. Topics include descriptive statistics, reliability and validity, social and ethical considerations in testing, the appropriate selection and usage of standardized tests, and the communication of their results. At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to administer, evaluate and interpret assessment instruments commonly used in the counseling profession.

EDPS 521 Statistics and Quantitative Analysis 3 Credits

This introductory statistics course will cover basic descriptive and inferential statistics for use in counseling, school psychology, and education. Students will learn how to interpret and evaluate statistics in empirical articles and to understand some of the considerations in selecting and using different statistical techniques. In addition, they will learn to analyze data and interpret output using statistical software.

Prerequisite(s): EDPS 520, EDUC 500.

EDUC 500 Introduction To Research 3 Credits

This course will provide students with the tools to evaluate the claims and uses of research related to teaching, counseling, and psychology. Students will learn how to find and critique the literature, and will be able to conduct some of their own basic evaluative research to assess the efficacy of their practice and programs. At the conclusion of the course, students will have developed an understanding of rigorous research and evaluation design, and will have skills in data analysis and interpretation.

EDUC 530 Student Affairs & Experiences in Higher Education 3 Credits

This course will highlight how individuals access higher education and how that education affects students’ development via programs, services and interventions designed to promote student growth. The course will explore multiple dimensions of the student experience and how student development theory is used to understand and enhance those experiences. Students will also explore student affairs organizational structures and functions common in colleges and universities.