James Madison University

18th Annual Summer Institute in Counseling Sessions Garner Wide Appeal

By: Dina Manco
Posted: November 6, 2014

With 12 different sessions featured, the Department of Graduate Psychology’s Summer Institute in Counseling opened its courses to students and mental health professionals June 16-July 18 on the JMU campus. The institute is an opportunity to earn graduate course credit or Continuing Education Units (necessary for clinical counselors to renew licensures) during the summer. According to one of the coordinators, Dr. Renee Staton, the institute’s aim is “to provide high quality and affordable professional development opportunities for local mental health professionals.” The Summer Institute in Counseling is co-sponsored by the Virginia Counselors Association. The help of this broad sponsorship enables word about the institute to travel to practitioners across the state. “We usually draw from Winchester and Charlottesville, in addition to the Shenandoah Valley,” says Staton. This summer’s institute attracted a large crowd with 75 participants overall. A variety of mental health professionals attended, including clinical mental health counselors, school counselors, and social workers.

The length of each session varied: some were held one day a week from 9a.m.-4p.m., but most were held two days a week with a combination of in-class and online learning. Exploring the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and Assessing Suicide Risk and Hospitalization were added to the available classes this past summer. Exploring the DSM-5 drew the largest interest from participants this year. Staton explains, “I think it is because people are so curious about how it will impact their practice; [the DSM-5] has significant changes in it.”

JMU faculty members donate their time teaching at the institute, in addition to guest speakers such as JMU graduates and mental health professionals. The engaging and fun environment the Summer Institute in Counseling offers each year is what helps make it so successful. Staton says, “People really look forward to it. We are creative in how we present our information; people count on theory with practical applications in a way that is engaging and fun.”