ISAACS: Mental health counseling really helps people change their lives. If things are not functioning well for them, if they’re not getting the most out of their life, mental health counseling incorporates the kinds of things that will help them do that. The goal of the Mental Health Counseling program here is to take people who are primarily working adults and give them the skills, the knowledge and the dispositions that they need to be able to sit for licensure in the state of Florida and elsewhere so that they can become practicing professionals. FINN: So what they learn is, the basic skills that they need to be mental health counselors: interviewing skills, diagnostic skills. Counselors need to be ready and have an understanding of all the stages of life. ISAACS: Preparing for our profession really has two significant components: There is the knowledge base that you get in-classroom, but then there’s also the application piece. CHIODO: Of course, you learn a lot about theory, you learn a lot of different specialized areas like addictions, group counseling. ISAACS: Career counseling, lifespan development. FINN: Mental disorders, legal and ethical issues in counseling, organization, administration and supervision of counseling programs. CHIODO: From the very second semester, you start to get into practicum, and it’s exciting to go in and actually start to do the work. FINN: There are a thousand hours of field experience. ISAACS: We spread those internships and field experiences out so that students have almost continuous field experience while in the program. LA BORN: The internships and practicums have really helped me and my classmates develop a professional attitude with good, real-world experience. FINN: They’re learning from each other, they’re learning from their clients, they’re learning from their supervisors in the field. LA BORN: The professors in this program have a wealth of experience that they share with us. They’re people who have practiced, they’re people who have written articles, done research. CHIODO: There’s a lot of different ways that you learn. ISAACS: They’re working in small groups, practicing, doing exercises, and also we get a chance to model for them, and they get a chance to model for each other. CHIODO: You really become very bonded with other people in your cohort. LA BORN: We go through this more as a group than as individuals. FINN: We are CACREP accredited. That means that, anywhere across the country, and many different countries, when you graduate with this degree, people know what it means. ISAACS: In both of our majors, we have added the option for students to become dually licensed and certified. That means that by taking the additional credits and internships for the other specialty program, our students will now be able to graduate with a Master of Arts in Counseling that has prepared them to be both school and clinical mental health counselors. To meet the needs of graduate counselors who were either initially prepared in community mental health or prepared in school counseling, we have added certificate programs that allow these postgraduate counselors to come back, take selected courses under advisement, and then move into a specialty in the other area. By the time they’re doing their last internship, they are well prepared to assume professional roles and responsibilities, because they have been practicing with clients and integrating their knowledge all along.