Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Become a professional counselor in Portland or Salem

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A master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from George Fox will prepare you to work with clients of all ages, either individually or in group counseling. You will be able to work in a variety of settings, such as private, institutional, community, faith-based, and cross-cultural. More specifically, you can work in private practice (group or individual), at for-profit and non-profit organizations, in hospitals and at schools.

Our programs are rooted in the beliefs that:

  • People are spiritual-psychological-physical-relational beings
  • Counselors need to be able to understand and articulate clients' presenting problems and provide treatment from sound psychological principles
  • Counselors need to possess the skills of a generalist and be equipped to work with a variety of clients of diverse backgrounds and varied developmental stages and needs

Spiritual Integration

Because of George Fox University's identity as a Christian university, the programs in the Graduate School of Counseling are grounded in and shaped by our commitment to an integrated understanding of the Christian faith and mental health that embraces diversity and promotes justice.

Our approach to spiritual integration does not specifically prepare graduates to be Christian counselors or work at faith-based organizations.

All together, our students are learning how to integrate the worldview of any person they work with, whether or not they share the same spiritual perspectives.

»  Learn more about spiritual integration

Licensure

This program is designed to prepare students to sit for the national licensure exam to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Oregon.

»  Learn more about counseling licensure

Program Advantages

  • Accredited by CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs)
  • Can be completed in two, three or four years (view curriculum sequence by program length and start date)
  • Flexible schedules (day, evening and weekend classes) for working adults
  • Convenient locations at our Portland Center (near Tigard) and Salem Site
  • An environment that encourages the integration of faith and learning
  • Full-time, accessible, widely trained faculty
  • Courses taught from a systemic perspective
  • Opportunities to interact with students who are pursuing other mental health professions
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Curriculum Plan

Complete the following:

This course examines both the content and process of the Christian faith as well as its implications for clinical practice. Explored are an introduction to spirituality in mental health, basic hermeneutics as applied to Christian Scripture, basic theological concepts, the relationship between theology and psychology, health and toxic faith systems, spiritual development, spiritual/religious assessment, the spiritual/religious orientation and value system of the therapist, and treatment interventions in the spiritual/religious realm.
This course is an introduction into the complex psychological variable called Image of God. The course will introduce the student to the theoretical framework and the clinical perspective in understanding and working with a client's spirituality and/or religiosity. The course takes an integrative approach combining both theological and psychological data regarding the client's unconscious image of God within the contexts of relational, social, and cultural factors.
It is challenging to understand the difference between guilt, shame, and grace. It is also difficult to know then how to apply this to our spiritual lives, and yet harder to know how to apply this to someone else's life. This course is designed to inform the therapist about family shame, guilt, and grace. Definitions, characteristics, and change strategies for shame in clients, both individuals and families, will be discussed. Models of grace and healing for shame will be identified. There will be significant emphasis on the student's own experience of shame and grace. No Pre-Requisites
Provides an opportunity for students to develop/deepen their own spiritual identity. Views of God, creation, self, family, relationships, faith communities, personal disciplines, personality type, spiritual health, and pathology are among the topics for exploration. Students will explore literature of spiritual formation, reflect/journal on their spiritual histories, participate in intentional community experiences, and consider the therapeutic and clinical implications of their spiritual identity.

Complete the following:

An examination of key concepts in marital and family systems, including the family life cycle, as well as an introduction to various approaches to marital and family therapy. Core counseling skills as used in systems therapy will be taught and practiced. Prevention services as well as the roles of ethnicity and culture will be studied.
This course reviews basic concepts and skills of counseling individuals, including practice in applying those concepts and techniques in counseling situations during class. Emphasis is on conditions for effective helping relationships, attending and interviewing skills, basic theoretical assumptions, ethical principles, and professional orientation.
This course is designed to advance student understanding of theory as it related to clinical practice of counseling and therapy, including intake and assessment skills, the influence of the clinician, the development of interventions, crisis strategies, and treatment plans, consultation, file management, and the ethical treatment of clients, especially those from diverse and/or multicultural populations. Emphasis is placed on understanding the client(s) from systemic and developmental perspectives. Pass/No Pass. Prerequisites: GCEP 500 Introduction to Couple and Family Therapy; GCEP 501 Principles and Techniques of Counseling; GCEP 510 Human Growth and Development; GCEP 520 Personality and Counseling Theory; GCEP 530 Psychopathology and Appraisal; GCEP 540 Professional Orientation; GCEP 550 Group Theory and Therapy. GCEP 540 and GCEP 550 may be taken as corequisites. In addition, Clinical Mental Health students are required to have successfully taken GCEP 522 Advanced Clinical Skills and Marriage Couple and Family students are required to have successfully taken GCEP 514 Couple Therapy and GCEP 524 Family Therapy. Students must have (a) completed all prerequisites with a B or better grade, (b) applied and been accepted as an internship candidate, and (c) attended Internship Orientation.
The study of human growth and development recognizes that a complex interplay of biological, intrapsychic, relational, and social dynamics are in constant motion throughout one's lifespan. Therefore, this course examines human development from an ecosystemic perspective by surveying a variety of major developmental theories as applied across the lifespan and identifying the use of those theories in the practice of Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. The influence of cultural dynamics on human development is also considered, as expressed through dominant social values shaping our understanding and experience of self, family, gender, race, ethnicity, and spirituality. Emphasis is placed on applying developmental theories in the assessment and diagnosis of individuals, couples, and families, and in the educational environment.
This course is a survey of major contemporary theories of counseling and personality development with particular emphasis on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of psychopathological states as interpreted within various theoretical frameworks. The course surveys the major figures and their theories in the area of personality and counseling modalities. Theorists are examined to discover their views of anthropology, psychopathology, normalcy, behavioral, and relational assessment, in addition to their therapeutic goals and interventions. The course explores each theory in light of social and cultural diversity as well as the integrative impact of spirituality and religiosity on the development of the person. The systemic perspective, which recognizes that personality is embedded in various systems (family, relational, social, community and cultural), is considered throughout.
It is crucial that professional counselors, after a basic framework of counseling is in place and an introspective process has begun, be trained in the advanced clinical skills of helping. To do this well, the counselor must be trained in such topics and skills as: transference and counter-transference, influencing skills, treatment planning, spirituality, and termination. This course will introduce the student to these counseling topics and more. This course builds on GCEP 501 and utilizes the Egan Model of Counseling described in that course. This course is for Clinical Mental Health Counseling Students only, all others by permission. Prerequisite: GCEP 501
The treatment of individuals, couples, and families requires multidimensional assessment skills in order to ensure ethical, appropriate, and effective intervention strategies. This course is intended to begin the student's process of developing mastery in the assessment and diagnosis of psychopathology as codified in the DSM-V. Biological, psychological, cultural, and systemic factors are considered in the assessment, etiology, and treatment of various disorders. For Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple and Family students only. Prerequisite: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
Many dimension of human sexuality will be explored, including anatomy, physiology, identity, values, culture, relationships, family, spirituality, dysfunction, therapy techniques, and ethics. Students will evaluate their perceptions about their sexuality in order to understand the impact of the clinician's values on clients. This course is intended for students in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs only.
This course is a study of the professional and ethical issues that most effect the preparation for the practice of counseling individuals, couples, and families. The course is focused on the development of the professional identity of counselors in training. This includes study of legal and ethical issues (including professional mental health organizations and state law) related to licensure and clinical practice, as well as the professional responsibilities of counselors. Development and maintenance of private and agency professional practice is also addressed.
The primary objective of this course is to teach group leadership theories and skills, and to help students understand how proper group processes and methods can contribute to clients' mental health. Students will learn group leadership, group dynamics, theories of group development, group treatment planning, group assessment, and ethical considerations related to group treatment. Students will also take part in a community-based group experience. For students in Graduate School of Counseling programs only. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 501
This course examines theory, etiology, assessment, and treatment of addictive disorders in individual, marriage, couple, family, and group modalities. The course also provides insight into the collaborative nature of treatment in the field of addiction, providing opportunities for students to work with each other and professionals in the field to enhance knowledge of treatment interventions and treatment planning. Pre-Requisites: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
Students will engage in all steps of the research process by participating in a collaborative research project that emphasizes the importance of research in the counseling profession, including work that informs evidenced-based practices in the field. Students participate in the ethical design, analysis, reporting, and evaluation of empirical research. Students will also learn to fundamentals of program evaluation, including needs assessments and strategies for program modification.
This course is intended to increase the student's understanding of the issues and dynamics in counseling across social and cultural lines. Students will explore the nature of society and culture and how these impact the counseling process. Students will examine several major spiritual traditions, with a view to understanding the implications for clinical practice with persons in these populations. Within each tradition, the following are explored: history and tradition; sacred writings; central doctrines; spiritual authority; faith communities; communal and personal disciplines/rituals; health/happiness and pathology; means of grace; social and cultural practice; relationship to creator/creation; gender, blood, and faith relationships; compare and contrast with Western Christian worldview; systemic analysis; and therapeutic implications. Attention will be given to developing understanding of gender, class, race, ethnicity, structure and roles within marriage and family work, and various lifestyles. No Pre-Requisites
This course is a study of the foundational psychological and social issues related to career counseling. The following areas will be explored: lifestyle and career decision making process, career guidance programs for special populations, and future issue as it relates to the work place and the necessary skills to become a careerist. The integration of career counseling philosophy, methodologies, resources, and psychotherapy will be explored in the context of a total person approach. This course is intended for students in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs only. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 501
This course offers a study of the basic concepts and principles of psychological assessment, including historical factors influencing testing and test construction. Students will also learn the statistical language and theory related to measurement error, scales of measurement, measures of central tendency and variability, reliability and validity. Students will learn about a selected group of assessment instruments and their range of applications in the field. Critical evaluation of assessment instruments will be included as well. This course is intended for Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health, Marriage, Couple and Family and School Counseling students only. No Pre-Requisites.
This course intends to deepen the student's knowledge base regarding the complexities of the human experience by examining neurological functioning and its role in human distress and recovery. Specifically, it explores the interplay between neurobiology, the social environment, and pharmacological interventions, and its influence on cognitive, affective, and behavioral functioning. The course offers an overview of neuroanatomy orienting the student to basic brain structure, advances in interpersonal neurobiology confirming the role of attachment relationships in brain development, and the role of interpersonal relationships and pharmacology in altering brain functioning.
This course involves development of a culminating graduate-level clinical thesis, built upon the internship experience and previous courses. Concurrent with the student's final semester of internship, this multidimensional clinical project involves the student demonstrating perceptual, conceptual, and executive skills┬┐demonstrating minimum practice standards in the legal, ethical and effective treatment of clients. Students are expected to prepare a comprehensive paper detailing their primary theoretical orientation, including perspective of the nature of persons, change and dysfunction, as well as the therapeutic process. Additionally, the portfolio includes video, session transcripts, psychosocial assessment, and written reflection which will be reviewed by the instructor and a licensed mental health professional in the community. Intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 593. Additional course fee required.
This course runs concurrently with GCEP 592 Clinical Internship I, and focuses on the development and implementation of treatment plans, reporting and assessing progress of treatment, appropriate referral procedures, and consultation. This course considers traditional and contemporary approaches to assessment, treatment planning, and intervention based in biopsychosocial systems and evidence-based interventions. It is expected that case conceptualization and treatment plans be consistent with diagnosis [DSM-IV-TR] and the counselor's theoretical orientation. The goal is to assist student interns with the development of advanced clinical counseling and case conceptualization skills that are consistent with sound clinical, ethical, and systemic practice. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 592
This course runs concurrently with GCEP 593 Clinical Internship I, and focuses on the development and implementation of treatment plans, reporting and assessing progress of treatment, appropriate referral procedures, and consultation. This course considers traditional and contemporary approaches to assessment, treatment planning, and intervention based in biopsychosocial systems and evidence-based interventions. It is expected that case conceptualization and treatment plans be consistent with diagnosis [DSM-IV-TR] and the counselor's theoretical orientation. The goal is to assist student interns with the development of advanced clinical counseling and case conceptualization skills that are consistent with sound clinical, ethical, and systemic practice. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 593
Complete 5 credits of electives from any additional GCEP or TRMA coursework.

Complete the following:

Note: Students are expected to follow the sequence GCEP 592, GCEP 593 beginning with the fall semester of the final year. Students who begin internship in the summer will register for GCEP 591 for 1 additional hour and GCEP 599 Treatment Planning for 1 additional hour, but will still need to register for and attend fall and spring internship. Students who continue internship into the following summer will register for GCEP 594 for an additional 2 hours.
The clinical internship is the culminating field experience for students in the Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. This course will be the experiential application of the counseling skills learned in earlier courses, with a focus on clinical, ethical and systemic conceptualization and practice. Students will have an on-site placement in a public or private mental health setting, with the goal of creating the necessary bridge between training and professionalism. The goal of these courses is the attainment of competency equivalent to that of an entry level professional mental health professional, and consists of the primary components of counseling practice under the direct clinical supervision of a site supervisor, and case consultation and supervision facilitated by a university instructor. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Pre-Requisites for CMHC: GCEP 500, GCEP 501, GCEP 502, GCEP 510, GCEP 520, GCEP 530, GCEP 540, GCEP 550. Pre-Requisites for MCFC: GCEP 500, GCEP 501, GCEP 502, GCEP 510, GCEP 514, GCEP 520, GCEP 524, GCEP 530, GCEP 540, GCEP 550. Co-Requisite for CMHC and MCFC: GCEP 597 Students must have (a) completed all prerequisites with a B or better grade, (b) applied and been accepted as an internship candidate, and (c) attended the Internship Orientation (during spring semester of that year).
The clinical internship is the culminating field experience for students in the Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. This course will be the experiential application of the counseling skills learned in earlier courses, with a focus on clinical, ethical and systemic conceptualization and practice. Students will have an on-site placement in a public or private mental health setting, with the goal of creating the necessary bridge between training and professionalism. The goal of these courses is the attainment of competency equivalent to that of an entry level professional mental health professional, and consists of the primary components of counseling practice under the direct clinical supervision of a site supervisor, and case consultation and supervision facilitated by a university instructor. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs students only. Pass/No Pass. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 592. Co-Requisite: GCEP 598
Portrait of Marti Diaz-Domm

There are many layers to someone who is gay and who is also a person of color. I wanted to help others who faced similar challenges. When I interviewed with the graduate counseling admissions team, I was told I would be very welcomed if I chose George Fox. Something inside me said George Fox was the school for me, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Students and professors alike made sure my voice was heard in every class. I never felt rejected. I felt like people wanted to learn and I wanted to learn from them. They saw me. I felt known.

Having a space where everyone – Black, white, gay, straight, everyone, Christian and non-Christian – can feel welcome, all those things are interwebbed now. All that knowledge, I am very proud to say, came from George Fox University and the amazing professors there.

- Marti Diaz-Domm (M.A. '20), The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center


There are many layers to someone who is gay and who is also a person of color. And because I immigrated from Cuba at 12 or 13 years old and really fell through the cracks in school, I wanted to help others who faced similar challenges. I had become a Spanish immersion teacher, and then an administrator and finally a principal, but I knew there was something more I needed to do.

When I interviewed with the graduate counseling admissions team, I was told I would be very welcomed if I chose George Fox. Something inside me said George Fox was the school for me, and it was the best decision I have ever made.

In the world right now, people are not really listening to one another. There is so much noise. But we learn more by listening. That’s exactly what George Fox did; they listened. Students and professors alike made sure my voice was heard in every class. They were grateful to hear another perspective that they would need to understand in counseling, and even though at times we had to accept non-closure, we were still able to listen to one another. And that’s what a good counselor does. I never felt rejected. I felt like people wanted to learn and I wanted to learn from them. They saw me. I felt known.

I feel very blessed to work with kids who are like I was and who I saw as a teacher and as a principal, and take those 20 years of experience and know exactly what those kids feel like. I was those kids. Having a space where everyone – Black, white, gay, straight, everyone, Christian and non-Christian – can feel welcome, all those things are interwebbed now. All that knowledge, I am very proud to say, came from George Fox University and the amazing professors there.

The professors at George Fox care about students. We are more than just students. They actually care about our education. Their name is on our diploma and we go out into the world with that, and they care about their reputation and that our knowledge is the highest. We go out into the world and we are a representation of them, and they take that very seriously.

The professors at George Fox are second to none. When you have a George Fox degree, people know you’ve gotten a good education.

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Play Therapy and Trauma Courses

George Fox counseling students have the opportunity to take introductory play therapy courses through the Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies. The center is directed by Dr. Daniel Sweeney, past president of the Association for Play Therapy and both author and co-author of several books on play therapy and child therapy. The center hosts graduate courses in filial therapy, sandtray therapy and special topics courses, as well as biannual conferences offering workshops that attract presenters and participants from across the nation.

The Trauma Response Institute (TRI), directed by Dr. Anna Berardi, offers individual specialization classes in trauma response and a full 12-credit certificate program.

Learn more about our specialized training centers

Other Careers in Behavioral Health

Not sure if counseling is right for you? George Fox also offers degrees in social work and psychology. Learn more


Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Program length 2 to 4 years
Semester hours 60
Cost per semester hour $734*
Tuition cost for entire program $44,040*
Accreditation CACREP; approved by Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists
Format In-person
Location Portland Center (near Tigard) or Salem Site

*All stated financial information is subject to change.

CACREP Accredited

Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)