James Madison University

Counseling Program Proposing a Ph.D. Program

The faculty members of  the JMU Counseling Program have developed a proposal to implement a Ph.D. in Counseling.  The need for trained counselors is increasing dramatically, both nationally and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of counselors is expected to grow 21% through 2016, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, the demand is so great that it is expected to exceed the capacity of current graduate counselor education programs. In addition, there is a tremendous shortage of counselors with the specialized expertise to provide crisis counseling, train emergency workers, supervise beginning outreach counselors, and administer disaster counseling teams. 

The Ph.D. in Counseling would be a program committed to training master counselors, supervisors, educators, administrators, and scholars with expertise in the theory, research and practice of counseling. As doctorate-level counselors, graduates would be qualified to work in such settings as institutions of higher education, human service agencies, schools, hospitals, community mental health agencies, and private practices.

The proposed program would provide innovative training, including evening and weekend classes, distance learning experiences and intensive summer institutes that are designed to accommodate counseling practitioners. Consequently, students would have the flexibility of training either full-time or part-time while they fulfill other personal and career commitments. Although the program would be innovative in its scheduling and use of technology, it would include face-to-face interaction with both faculty members and fellow students in every course.

The curriculum would be CACREP-accredited and include specialized training in crisis counseling and emergency services.

The curriculum would involve a minimum of 48 credit hours. Eligible applicants would be practicing counselors who have completed an advanced degree (M.A., M.S. or Ed.S.) from an entry-level counseling program and the 60 credit hours of graduate counseling coursework necessary for licensure as a professional counselor. The Ph.D. in Counseling would highlight the professional competencies essential for doctorate-level counselors. The National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC) supports the proposal and would partner with JMU to offer certification training.

The expertise of core faculty members in Counseling at James Madison University would provide a solid foundation for this proposed program. Nationally and internationally recognized as experts in counseling, they have served as counselors, consultants, educators and policy advisors throughout the United States and other countries. For over three decades, the Counseling Program has earned an excellent reputation for training successful counselors.  In fact, the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision named it the Outstanding Program at the Master’s Level. In addition, the program has developed long-term partnerships with the area mental health counseling agencies, schools, regional disaster planning task force, The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children, Survivor Corps, American Red Cross, and the National Guard. Such partnerships have tremendous potential for developing practicum experiences and research projects for doctoral students.

The location of James Madison University provides an ideal site for this proposed program.  Situated in the Shenandoah Valley, a geographic area that is experiencing a tremendous increase in population, the campus would be convenient to many practicing counselors who wish to continue their professional development without resigning from their current positions. Moreover, Harrisonburg is proportionately one of the most diverse communities in the Commonwealth, with over 43% ESL students, who speak over 52 different languages and dialects, in the public schools. The local community provides an excellent opportunity for counseling students to work with clients coming from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.