Clinical Mental Health Counseling Emphasis

The clinical mental health counseling degree is a 60-credit program that meets the curriculum requirements for Professional Counselor Licensure in the state of Wisconsin and for the National Board of Counselor Certification. The clinical mental health counseling emphasis encompasses a broad range of interests and foci. Students who select this emphasis plan to work in such diverse settings as community mental health centers, inpatient facilities, vocational or employment counseling agencies, family service agencies, correctional institutions, business and industry, or social service agencies.  For those who plan to pursue licensure as a professional counselor (LPC), more information on the steps toward licensure is available here.

The clinical mental health counseling emphasis provides a specific knowledge base for mental health counseling as well as continuing to provide specialty training options, including:

Alcohol and Other Drug Counseling

Students with an interest in counseling clients with alcohol and/or other drugs related issues may receive training in the chemical dependency process and its impact on individual, family, and society. Course work focuses on developing effective counseling strategies and techniques for working with chemically dependent clients and their families. The courses in the clinical mental health counseling plus COUNSED 734, Families: Assessment and Treatment of Abusive Behaviors and COUNSED 749, Chemical Dependency: Treatment and Rehabilitation have been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services as the knowledge base for substance abuse counselor licensure, e.g., eligibility for SAC-IT. You can find more information on the steps toward SAC-IT licensure here.

Students seeking state substance abuse counselor licensure will be required to complete a period of work experience in the alcohol and drug field prior to receiving licensure. Internship may qualify as part of that work experience.

Career Counseling

Students interested in this area take courses in career counseling to prepare them to work in community and technical colleges, private and public universities, career centers, employment agencies, organizations and industries as human resource specialists, and other positions that have career and placement counseling as their primary emphasis. Services provided by career counselors may include career counseling and job search strategies, aptitude and interest testing, providing occupational information, as well as providing brief holistic counseling when necessary. Career counselors work with a variety of clientele including job seekers, the chronically unemployed, the underemployed, mid-life career changers, re-entry workers, displaced homemakers, and others.

Individuals who wish to work in technical college systems in the state of Wisconsin need to be aware of the certification requirements and procedures. Generally, the Wisconsin Technical College System Office grants provisional and five-year certification to counselors. Both certifications also have renewal requirements. For further and detailed information, check: or contact the Wisconsin Technical College System Office at 4622 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53705 (street address), P.O. Box 7874, Madison, WI 53707-7874 (mailing address).

Higher education

Students interested in the Higher Education emphasis may elect to pursue this emphasis within the CMHC coursework. This option will provide course work and experiences for those who plan to seek employment in post-secondary settings such as community colleges, technical colleges, community colleges and center systems, public and private colleges, and universities. In addition this will allow individuals to fulfill requirements for Professional Counselor licensure in the state of Wisconsin.

Marriage/Partnership and Family Counseling

Students interested in marriage/partnership and family therapy will receive specific training and experience in this specialty field. The need and demand for trained professionals in marriage and family therapy has been steadily increasing. The marriage/partnership and family specialty area employs a systems approach to treatment, and offers courses designed to help students understand the methods, practices, and theories of marriage and family therapy. The program adheres to professional and ethical standards outlined by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Students seeking licensure as a marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in the state of Wisconsin must meet academic and supervisory requirements as outlined in the Wisconsin Statues and Administrative Code relating to the practice of marriage and family therapy. You can find more information on the steps toward LMFT licensure here.

In addition to the course offerings within the 60-hour CMHC, other coursework is required to meet the WI State Statutes for the LMFT designation. Students should go to (insert link) to see the 2010 approved coursework template (approved by the DSPS, MFT Section) to find guidance re. additional coursework. It is recommended that students in planning their POS with their advisor take COUNSED 732 and COUNSED 733 as these two courses reflect the advanced MFT courses in the curriculum. Also note those seeking skills in marriage and family therapy must accumulate 300 direct client hours during their practicum and internship experiences. Those interested in marriage/partnership and family licensure should consult with the marriage/partnership and family therapy program coordinator.

Clinical membership in AAMFT is available to individuals after they have successfully met state MFT licensure requirements, which includes passing the AAMFTRB exam; information on this exam can be found at For more information in regard to definitions of marriage and family therapy practice, requirements, and relevant statues please visit our Other Useful Links page.

School Counseling

Students seeking a career in the school related field, can choose to specialize in school counseling.  By completing coursework specific to school counseling, students will gain further knowledge about how to become an advocate for students, use the ASCA National Model , work within an educational system, and understand the importance of incorporating all ecological levels of the child. 

Trauma Counseling

Students interested in trauma can choose to specialize in this area. By completing the coursework for the trauma specialty, students will gain a better understanding of the neurobiological aspects of trauma as well as the impacts of trauma and abuse on individuals and families. Students will also gain skills for working with those who are in crisis or have experienced trauma.

The courses in the clinical mental health counseling emphasis plus COUNSED 734, Families: Assessment and Treatment of Abusive Behaviors and COUNSED 739, Trauma Treatment are required for the trauma specialty.