Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling,
Community Counseling Track
The mission of the M.S. program in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track is to educate individuals to be socially responsible counseling professionals who will work competently, creatively and collaboratively with and within the community in an environment of diversity so that persons in the community including those with disabilities are empowered to pursue career and other personally important goals with success and satisfaction. We also seek to address New Jersey’s ongoing needs to prepare counselors with specialized expertise in providing counseling in community settings for people with disabilities of all types, including psychiatric, physical and developmental. The increased availability of counselors with this expertise is expected to benefit persons with disabilities as well as their families and communities by providing community-based counseling services that will enable such individuals to enhance their quality of life including their ability to live independently, get and keep employment, gain an education, and form social relationships and networks. Additionally, students are prepared to consider the community as a client and deliver needed direct and indirect services in this context. To prepare students to address these needs, the program curriculum emphasizes development of critical thinking, provision of counseling services in an environment of diversity, and adherence to ethical standards. The mission of the program is consistent with that of UMDNJ and SHRP in serving both the individual and the community.
Consistency with the Mission of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
UMDNJ is New Jersey's state wide system of health sciences education. The mission of UMDNJ is to meet the needs of our diverse constituencies and improve the health and quality of life of the citizens of New Jersey and society at large. UMDNJ seeks to enhance the health of all New Jerseyans through broad-based programs covering every aspect of the health sciences. UMDNJ has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the advancement of the health sciences, through teaching, research, and healing. This is accomplished through UMDNJ’s network of campuses around the state as well as its comprehensive network of health care services including community-based health services in New Jersey. This degree program complements the University's mission to improve the quality of life of citizens of New Jersey and society at large by preparing future professionals with expertise in counseling persons with disabilities and others in community settings, which would be expected to improve their quality of life. In this effort, the mission of the M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track is consistent with that of UMDNJ.
UMDNJ has traditionally responded to existing academic, health personnel, and service delivery needs in the State of New Jersey. This degree was designed to address existing gaps in the counseling field as related to providing counseling and other services to individuals with disabilities residing in the community and to the community itself to address wellness and health as well as other community needs. There has been a long-standing shortage in New Jersey of highly qualified counselors with expertise in these areas to meet these needs. UMDNJ is the only university in New Jersey offering such a program to address this community counseling need.
The M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track is offered at two campuses, one in Scotch Plains serving students in Northern and Central New Jersey and the other in Stratford serving students in Southern New Jersey. This is expected to assist in meeting needs for qualified professionals throughout New Jersey by permitting students to take courses at a campus near home or work. Additionally, the availability of this degree helps address the shortage by preparing counseling professionals to practice in diverse community settings including identifying and addressing needs of communities.
Consistent with UMDNJ's overall mission, the M.S. program in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track expands educational opportunities for New Jerseyans and seeks to improve the quality of life of all New Jerseyans through preparation of professional personnel who will provide high quality counseling services in the community. This degree program is also available to students from regions surrounding New Jersey who are interested in preparing for a career in this field.
Consistency with the Mission of the School of Health Related Professions
Consistent with the mission of the School of Health Related Professions (SHRP), the mission of this degree program involves educating socially responsible counseling professionals who will work competently, creatively and collaboratively in a dynamic, community-based health care environment. The program curriculum emphasizes the development of critical thinking, proficiency in providing counseling services in an environment of diversity, and adherence to ethical standards. Additionally, the philosophy of SHRP views education, quality health care, practice, and research as a community effort that is responsive to the needs and preferences of the community.
Specific contributions to the mission and goals of SHRP include:
- Providing students with quality educational experiences and diverse practical experience through a variety of affiliations: The M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in the area of Community Counseling and by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), both indicators of quality. The Department regularly conducts self-study activities to evaluate the quality of the program and implements improvements as needed. Student clinical education takes place at a variety of sites in the community including community-based agencies, state and federal government agencies, and other facilities throughout the state and surrounding areas. Considerations in establishing affiliations include developing affiliations with agencies that are sites conducive to modeling, demonstration, and training in order to introduce students to community-based counseling approaches and to issues that affect service delivery, help students develop critical thinking as part of the clinical experience, and offer opportunities to provide services to culturally diverse populations. Signed affiliation agreements are maintained with all agencies where clinical education takes place.
- Promoting and providing support for continuing professional development: The M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track is designed for working human services professionals as well as for people interested in entering the field. A variety of options for study are offered to meet the needs of individuals throughout their careers. Options that promote continuing professional development include the availability of attending part-time or full-time, many evening classes, matriculated and non-matriculated enrollment, a three-semester schedule, and multiple locations. These are all intended to facilitate the ability to pursue educational and career goals simultaneously. Also, strong relationships with the counseling professional community are maintained including ongoing consultation and collaboration. Examples of such collaboration include representation on the program’s Advisory Committee; meetings of program faculty with community agency and government program administrators, supervisors and staff; faculty orientation and training for agency supervisors of student clinical experiences, and active involvement in professional organizations such as the New Jersey chapters of the American Counseling Association and the National Rehabilitation Association.
- Providing educational, consultative, and other services: Through both volunteer and faculty practice activities, the Department seeks to provide educational, consultative and other services to other units of the university as well as the community of counseling and rehabilitation service providers. Faculty and students also serve the community through participating in and improving services for underserved individuals including those with disabilities.
Objectives for the M.S. program in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track include:
- Preparing at the master’s degree level highly qualified counselors prepared to work in a variety of community settings including working with persons from diverse populations including persons with disabilities.
- Increasing the supply of qualified professionals with special expertise in counseling persons with disabilities to provide community-based counseling services for New Jersey and the surrounding region. UMDNJ is the only university in New Jersey offering graduate counseling education in this specialization seeking to address the long-standing shortage of master’s level counseling practitioners with this expertise to serve communities in New Jersey. This includes increasing the supply of qualified practitioners throughout the state by offering the degree regionally at two campuses.
- Evaluating and improving curriculum and other program elements to assure that standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in the area of Community Counseling and of the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) continue to be met.
- Increasing awareness of the M.S. program in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track in the counseling community as well as in the larger New Jersey community and surrounding regions to recruit and enroll adequate numbers of students.
- Developing certificate programs and/or courses to meet the needs of counseling professionals who wish to upgrade their qualifications and credentials in various areas of specialization.
- Providing a career ladder for individuals who have obtained a bachelor’s degree related to human services and are interested in completing professional preparation as a counselor.
- Seeking funding including grants to assist students with tuition.
- Expanding affiliations to provide students with a variety of counseling practice opportunities in the community.
- Developing faculty practice with an emphasis on community service.
Statement of Philosophy
To accomplish the mission of the program and to prepare program graduates to work in a variety of settings including community agencies, government agencies, and other community based services, we seek to provide students with a broad knowledge of the counseling field including theory, research, ethical practices and decision-making, a well-developed set of interpersonal and counseling skills as applied to the helping relationship, and specialized knowledge of working with the community in an environment of diversity and of counseling individuals with disabilities in the community. The curriculum is designed to educate students in the knowledge base of the field including current research combined with supervised clinical experience in counseling to practice that knowledge base. It is recognized that interaction between these elements is essential.
Counselors have extensive contact with other helping professionals, paraprofessionals, self-help groups, community leaders, and other members of the community. The faculty is committed to the development of program graduates who can work competently, creatively and collaboratively with individuals from a variety of backgrounds. As part of accomplishing this, students are encouraged to learn about existing community resources and make maximum use of them in their counseling as well as assess needs for resource creation or modification to meet identified community needs.
Program graduates are also prepared to work with the wider environment as consultants, advocates and change agents. Besides proficiency in working with clients to modify their behavior to accomplish goals, proficiency is developed to interact with the environment to negotiate and, if needed, modify the environment in the interests of providing high quality services to clients.
Faculty members seek to promote an open environment for the consideration and discussion of a wide variety of theories and points of view. As part of this orientation, information and methodology from a range of disciplines are presented and discussed. In promoting understanding of the complexity of human behavior, all the behavioral and social sciences need to be considered. In teaching professional counseling skills, many faculty members have training and experience in cognitive and behavioral counseling approaches such as the Boston University approach for assisting clients to choose, get and keep goals of their choice in the community. Key tenets emphasized in this approach include active involvement of clients in planning and goal setting, behavioral improvement in the environment of need in the community as a critical client outcome, and a primary focus on improving client competency to assume community-based roles. The uniqueness of the individual is also emphasized with choice, empowerment and growth identified as core values. Services are individualized for the needs and preferences of each client as part of the counseling relationship with a focus on the identification and use of client personal strengths. Among the roles individuals are interested in attaining and maintaining are worker, student, independent community resident, and member of a social network. Through professional practice, the process of finding or renewing purpose and meaning in life is enhanced as clients gain or regain roles that they prefer and value in the community.
The faculty encourages applications from individuals from diverse backgrounds interested in studying for this degree. We recognize the need for diversity as part of preparing to serve clients in our pluralistic society and welcome applications from a wide variety of personal, social, ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds.
All Department faculty strive to create an environment rich in opportunities, experiences, and knowledge that enhances the education of our students. We are committed to the highest standards of excellence in preparing the professionals of tomorrow. We seek out the latest research to inform our academic and professional practice, and share our knowledge in a stimulating, friendly and professional atmosphere.
UMDNJ is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The M.S. program in Rehabilitation Counseling, Community Counseling Track is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) and by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in the area of Community Counseling.