The Counselor Education Program, leading to the Master of Science in Counseling, prepares its graduates to work in a variety of settings. The Board of Regents of the State Universities System authorized the development of the degree program in 1969. The North Central Association of College and Secondary Schools and NCATE granted initial accreditation during the academic year 1970-71, and the program has been approved for reaccreditation by both agencies. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has approved the program for school counseling licensure. The Counselor Education Department has also received full Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation for its Community Counseling (switched to Clinical Mental Health Counseling and accreditation will be sought 2016), School Counseling, and Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education Programs.As of May 2013, over 1,600 graduate students have been granted the Master of Science degree in Counseling. Currently, seven faculty members work with approximately 160 enrolled students; of those, about 40 students graduate each year.
The ratio of full-time to part-time students has fluctuated over the years. While a number of today's students are enrolled in full-time graduate study, the staff recognizes that economic and other conditions make it necessary for many students to remain employed while pursuing graduate studies. The program's commitment to serve part-time students is reflected in its full schedule of evening classes, its summer school offerings, and in the individualized design of internship.
The program has evolved and changed in response to trends and developments in counseling and the human services. Projections for the 21st century seem to indicate there will be a continuing need for professional counselors in the schools at both the elementary and secondary levels, in community and agency settings, and in higher education. Additionally, there is a need for counselors who wish to work in settings such as corrections, rehabilitation centers, drug and alcohol treatment centers, industries, and hospitals. We anticipate that the program will continue to evolve and change in response to the trends and developments in the field while maintaining its tradition of quality and professionalism.
The professional focus of counseling is the establishment of helping relationships with clients. The UW-Whitewater program is designed to help students achieve competencies required by licensure regulations, employing agencies, and professional organizations. The primary function of the program is to help the student become an effective professional counselor. The development of such professionalism requires a personal investment of time and effort, serious self-examination, and the ability to meet the challenges of graduate education.
The counselor education staff endorses the philosophy that counseling is both an art and a science. Principles of human learning, development and assessment, and counseling approaches have scientific bases, but the application of these principles remains to a considerable extent an art. The counselor-in-training needs to develop not only as a behavioral scientist, but also as a person concerned with applying knowledge for the improvement of the human condition. No single approach to counseling enjoys widespread acceptance among professionals; there exists a diversity of philosophies, theories, and approaches. Students acquire a basic understanding of these diverse approaches and then develop their own unique counseling styles that are effective for them in working with their clients.
The counselor education program is based upon the philosophy that students need to experience three types of learning: academic or didactic learning, laboratory or experiential learning, and learning about self. Core courses and elective course work help students gain knowledge, understanding, and skills upon which to base counseling practice. Laboratory or experiential learning is provided early in the student's program, further developed during the on-campus practicum, and culminates in the internship. These opportunities to observe counseling activities, interact with clients in appropriate settings, and consult with supervisors help students develop their personal counseling styles. The counselor education staff believes that personal development and professional development occur concurrently in the progression towards becoming effective counselors. The process of self-development and self-understanding is facilitated through interaction with and feedback from staff members and fellow students, and assists students in assessing the impact of their behavior and interpersonal style upon the clients they serve.