New Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling

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Dr. Otu 


        UW-Parkside is known for its strong pre-health undergraduate program and other undergraduate programs in healthcare which draw hundreds of students to the school; however, UW-Parkside also offers numerous post-graduate degrees in the medical field. Joining the many other master’s degrees offered by the College of Natural and Health Sciences, a master’s degree in clinical mental health counselling will become available in fall of this year.

        The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved the clinical mental health counselling program last October, and it was officially announced on UW-Parkside’s website on November 9. Dr. Emmanuel Otu, Founding Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences and Professor of Chemistry, spoke to the Ranger News about the new program. Even though the degree is not available until the fall, he said that there are already seven applicants.

What to expect

        Classes within the program cover multicultural relationships, family issues, general health psychology, psychotherapy, general counselling, coping mechanisms, and much more. There is a graduation requirement of 60 credit-hours, meaning a student would have to take 20 courses that are worth three credit-hours apiece. They are a mix of online, hybrid, and traditional classes. The program as a whole has been specifically designed to address a change in licensure requirements for Licensed Professional Counselors in Wisconsin; the new requirements will be in effect as of this September.

        Dr. Otu said these courses “run through the whole area of what you could consider health—mental health, trauma.” Referring to the recent tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, he also said that some classes teach “how to help families deal with situations like that, because, for their lifetime, they have lost somebody.” Students would be instructed on how to help patients cope with loss and other trauma over extended periods of time.

Employment opportunities

        The potential future employment for graduates of the new program is widely varied; they could be employed by anyone who needs the services of a Licensed Professional Counselor. “They can work at mental health institutions and hospitals, inpatient [or] outpatient mental health units. Usually, they’ll work alongside psychiatrists,” assured Otu. He continued, “the graduates would be the ones who help the patients go through the day-to-day ups and downs of their lives.” Graduates of the program would also be equipped to work in schools and, potentially, to start their own businesses.

        Regarding the current supply of mental health counselors, Dr. Otu said, “there are not enough… they are needed almost everywhere [in Wisconsin].” In fact, the need for counselors is primarily around Kenosha, Madison, and Green Bay. Otu also pointed out the opportunities for mental health specialists in the more rural areas of the state, where mental health care is generally much harder to obtain.

Consider a graduate degree

        Dr. Otu wanted students to know that their education does not have to end after they receive their bachelor’s degree as getting a master’s degree may help a student get the job they truly want. In the last six years, he has helped Parkside to add four new master’s programs in the College of Natural and Health Sciences alone. A fifth master’s program—healthcare administration—has been developed but is still pending the approval of the UW Board of Regents. Anyone who is interested in obtaining a master’s degree in clinical health counselling from UW-Parkside can head to and look for “programs” under the “academics” tab to learn more.

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