Skip To Content

Request Information

Degree Overview

Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Dr. Charlotte Hamilton, Department Chair, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

South University Richmond’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is designed for those interested in helping people in need. Our coursework is focused on experiential learning designed to help you become a compassionate professional counselor. Our program offers: comprehensive studies of theories and principles, dynamic applications in the field, training in effective assessment and treatment practices, a thorough understanding of the significance of research in the field and competence in ethical, legal, and professional standards

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is designed to prepare graduates to sit for licensure in their state and the opportunity to become certified as a National Certified Counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

Admission Requirements

Procedure for Admission to the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

Admissions criteria for the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program are consistent with those required in other master's degree level programs at South University. As the admissions process also takes into consideration the characteristics deemed essential to becoming a clinical mental health counselor, material is also required which will enable a determination to be made of the applicant's personal integrity, maturity, interpersonal skills, and ability to communicate effectively. The criteria used in determining admission to the graduate program include:

  1. Completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.
  2. A grade point average of at least 2.7 (on an Admissions scale of 4.0) for the last 60 semester hours/90 quarter hours of coursework (including relevant graduate work), or, a bachelor's degree with an overall CGPA of 2.7, or, an earned graduate degree from an accredited institution with a CGPA of 3.0 or higher.
  3. A minimum score on a South University preapproved English language proficiency test is required for all applicants whose "first" language is not English as specified in the English Language Proficiency Policy.
  4. Interview with the Clinical Mental Health Counseling department chair/program director or designated faculty member.
  5. Approval of the campus program admissions committee.
  6. Completion of an application for admission.
  7. Submission of a personal/professional statement addressing the applicant's interest in counseling, professional goals, along with a self-appraisal of academic and professional qualifications.
  8. Submission (within 10 weeks of class start dates) of official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended.
  9. Current résumé (or career summary).
  10. Background Check

All required admissions documentation and criteria will be reviewed and evaluated. Applicants will be notified regarding acceptance. Applicants should review the published general graduate requirements listed in the South University catalog. Students who are citizens of countries other than the United States should also refer to the section in the South University catalog entitled International Student Admissions Policy.

Program Course Requirements

Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program: 91 Credits, 10 quarter program

Curriculum for South University, Columbia; South University, Richmond; South University, Savannah and South University, Virginia Beach campuses only

Quarter 1: 9 Credits

  • CNS6002 Counseling Theory 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6313 Professional Orientation and Ethics 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7900 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Quarter 2: 8.5 Credits

  • CNS6018 Psychopathology 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6161 Counseling Techniques 4 credit hours
  • CNS7901 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Quarter 3: 9 Credits

  • CNS6050 Lifespan Development 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6051 Diagnostics of Psychopathology and Treatment 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7902 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS8100 Preliminary Clinical Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 4: 9 Credits

  • CNS6509 Group Dynamics 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6565 Multicultural Foundations 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7903 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Quarter 5: 8.5 Credits

  • CNS6425 Clinical Mental Health Counseling 4 credit hours
  • CNS6535 Clinical Mental Health Appraisal I 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7904 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Quarter 6: 5.5 Credits

  • CNS6529 Research and Statistical Evaluation 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7010 Practicum IA (100 clinical hours) 1 credit hour
  • CNS7905 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS8101 Preliminary Didactic Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 7: 9.5 Credits

  • CNS6602 Lifestyle and Career Development 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6850 Psychopharmacology 4 credit hours
  • CNS7011 Practicum IB (100 clinical hours) 1 credit hour
  • CNS7906 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS8201 Clinical Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 8: 8 Credits

  • CNS7510 Internship IA (200 clinical hours) 4 credit hours
  • CNS7907 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS7950 Child/Adolescent Psychopathology and Treatment 4 credit hours
  • CNS8202 Didactic Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 9: 12 Credits

  • CNS6901 Diagnosis and Treatment of Addictive Disorders 4 credit hours
  • CNS7610 Internship IIA (200 clinical hours) 4 credit hours
  • CNS7908 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS7970 Clinical Mental Health Appraisal and Treatment II 4 credit hours

Quarter 10: 12 Credits

  • CNS6709 Couples, Marital, and Family Dynamics 4 credit hours
  • CNS6775 Counseling Administration, Advocacy, and Policy 4 credit hours
  • CNS7611 Internship IIB (200 clinical hours) 4 credit hours
  • CNS7909 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Notes:

*Students wishing to move to North Carolina will be able take additional .5 seminar courses to fulfill the State of North Carolina requirements. Students taking these additional courses must following the Coursework Taken Outside a Student's Degree Program policy found in the Academic Affairs Section of the Academic Catalog.

  • CNS6006 Counseling Theory Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6056 Lifespan Development Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6317 Professional and Ethical Issues Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6504 Group Dynamics Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6532 Research and Evaluation Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6538 Clinical Mental Health Appraisal Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6568 Multicultural Foundations Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6605 Lifestyle and Career Development Seminar 0.5 credit hour

 

 

Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program: 91 Credits, 8 quarter program

Curriculum for South University, Columbia; South University, Richmond; South University, Savannah and South University, Virginia Beach campuses only

Quarter 1: 13.5 Credits

  • CNS6002 Counseling Theory 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6050 Lifespan Development 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6313 Professional Orientation and Ethics 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7900 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Quarter 2: 13 Credits

  • CNS6018 Psychopathology 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6161 Counseling Techniques 4 credit hours
  • CNS6565 Multicultural Foundations 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7901 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Quarter 3: 13 Credits

  • CNS6051 Diagnostics of Psychopathology and Treatment 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6425 Clinical Mental Health Counseling 4 credit hours
  • CNS6535 Clinical Mental Health Appraisal I 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7902 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS8100 Preliminary Clinical Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 4: 10 Credits

  • CNS6509 Group Dynamics 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6529 Research and Statistical Evaluation 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS7010 Practicum IA (100 clinical hours) 1 credit hour
  • CNS7903 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS8101 Preliminary Didactic Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 5: 9.5 Credits

  • CNS6602 Lifestyle and Career Development 4.5 credit hours
  • CNS6901 Diagnosis and Treatment of Addictive Disorders 4 credit hours
  • CNS7011 Practicum IB (100 clinical hours) 1 credit hour
  • CNS7904 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS8201 Clinical Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 6: 8 Credits

  • CNS7510 Internship IA (200 clinical hours) 4 credit hours
  • CNS7905 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS7950 Child/Adolescent Psychopathology and Treatment 4 credit hours
  • CNS8202 Didactic Evaluation 0 credit hours

Quarter 7: 12 Credits

  • CNS6850 Psychopharmacology 4 credit hours
  • CNS7610 Internship IIA (200 clinical hours) 4 credit hours
  • CNS7906 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours
  • CNS7970 Clinical Mental Health Appraisal and Treatment II 4 credit hours

Quarter 8: 12 Credits

  • CNS6709 Couples, Marital, and Family Dynamics 4 credit hours
  • CNS6775 Counseling Administration, Advocacy, and Policy 4 credit hours
  • CNS7611 Internship IIB (200 clinical hours) 4 credit hours
  • CNS7907 Clinical and Professional Development Seminar 0 credit hours

Note(s):

*Students wishing to move to North Carolina will be able take additional .5 seminar courses to fulfill the State of North Carolina requirements. Students taking these additional courses must following the Coursework Taken Outside a Student's Degree Program policy found in the Academic Affairs Section of the Academic Catalog.

  • CNS6006 Counseling Theory Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6056 Lifespan Development Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6317 Professional and Ethical Issues Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6504 Group Dynamics Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6532 Research and Evaluation Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6538 Clinical Mental Health Appraisal Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6568 Multicultural Foundations Seminar 0.5 credit hour
  • CNS6605 Lifestyle and Career Development Seminar 0.5 credit hour

 

 

Outcomes

Curriculum for South University, Columbia; South University, Richmond; South University, Savannah and South University, Virginia Beach campuses only

The South University Master of Arts degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is intended to meet the local and regional need for qualified counselors. The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is designed to provide advanced and broad training for South University graduate students regarding theories, principles, and dynamic applications in the field. Students develop the skills necessary to engage in effective assessment and treatment practices, achieve competence for ethical, legal, and professional issues, and understand the significance and utility of research to the field. Faculty members are dedicated to maintaining high teaching standards, developing intellectual curiosity, advancing critical thinking, and engaging in service to the University, community, and profession.

The primary goals of the program are as follows:

  • Promote the development of broad and comprehensive knowledge of the field of Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
  • Promote critical/analytical thinking regarding concepts and applications in the field.
  • Promote a thorough understanding of mental health assessment and treatment.
  • Raise awareness of professionalism and issues impacting the profession.
     

The program is designed to provide an opportunity for its graduates to achieve initial eligibility criteria to become licensed in their state and certified as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The length of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program varies in accord with the licensing requirements of the states in which the program is offered. As a result, the program may not meet the licensing requirements of all states. The student should contact the licensing board in the state in which they anticipate seeking licensure to determine the appropriate program. By way of illustration, the track offered at the Columbia campus is 91 credit hours and is designed to meet current state requirements for counseling programs in South Carolina. The program is 91 credit hours at the Austin, Richmond, Savannah and Virginia Beach campuses, which is designed to meet current licensure requirements for counseling programs in Texas, Georgia and Virginia. The state of Florida offers licensure for Counselors in Mental Health Counseling and also requires extra classes in Human Sexuality and Treatment of Substances Abuse. Therefore, the track offered at the West Palm Beach campus is 95 credit hours, which is designed to meet current state licensure requirements. After becoming licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in Florida for three years, dual licensure can be pursued through attaining a License as a Marriage and Family Therapist by taking the LMFT state exam.

The delivery structure of the program provides the opportunity for students who wish to balance the rigors of work and home while pursuing their master's degree. Although delivery will vary by campus location, classes generally meet each Saturday and weeknights as needed. The program is designed for students to complete the curriculum in 8 quarters. Each quarter, classes will be held on a weekly basis for a 10 week period with the 11th week designated for final exams.

Students who enroll in the program will be taught via two primary modes of instruction. The majority of the program will involve didactic and experiential classroom instruction. The second mode of instruction will focus on supervised field experiences. Students will be placed in actual counseling settings in the community and will practice counseling under the auspices of an onsite supervisor. Students in field placements will also receive weekly individual and group supervision from qualified faculty supervisors.

The objectives of the South University Clinical Mental Health Counseling program are to recruit eligible students from all areas and provide fair and equitable admissions criteria; make available a variety of instructional models and resources to provide the student with the most effective learning arrangements and to provide appropriate learning opportunities for counseling students that will prepare them to perform their expected competencies in an ethical, legal, safe, and effective manner upon graduation; prepare counseling students to communicate effectively; instill the importance and value of continued education and involvement in appropriate professional and community affairs after graduation; and encourage the counseling students to recognize their own strengths and limitations.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge, comprehension, synthesis, and application of the major theories comprising the foundation of counseling from a historical and contemporary perspective.
  2. Demonstrate an awareness and comprehension of the normal and abnormal mechanisms of change within individuals across the lifespan.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to properly identify, assess, conceptualize, diagnose, and treat mental disorders in the context of the accepted diagnostic nomenclature.
  4. Gain an understanding and appreciation of the contributions of quantitative and qualitative research and the synergy among the theoretical, clinical and scientific components of the field.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of their personal view as it relates to their world view and the multidimensional nature of cultural influences as a Counselor Educator.
  6. Demonstrate effective verbal and written communication skills necessary to interface with various constituents including clients, treatment teams, and public entities.
  7. Demonstrate an appropriate level of professional development as evidenced by the knowledge and understanding of pertinent ethical and legal principles in the profession, in addition to current/emerging issues in the field.
  8. Demonstrate a level of proficiency concerning the knowledge, skills, and competencies deemed appropriate for use in the profession as identified by the ongoing need for education and training beyond graduation.
     

Courses are taught according to the matriculation sequences provided by each campus and at the discretion of the school. Courses must be attempted in the curriculum sequence as defined by each campus. Curriculum content and sequence are subject to change with notification.

Core Faculty

Richmond Campus Core Faculty

Aimee Brickner, Ph.D., LPC, Program Director

Dr. Brickner is the Program Director for Clinical Mental Health Counseling at South University-Richmond. She has a M.A. in Interpersonal Communication from Miami University (OH), an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from James Madison University, and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from James Madison University. Dr. Brickner is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and provides outpatient counseling services at the Charlottesville Counseling Collective in Charlottesville, VA. Her clinical population is diverse and includes many trauma survivors and children in the foster care system. Dr. Brickner’s research interests are in the areas of the intersectionality of trauma and supervision; the distribution of unseen work and emotional workloads in couple’s relationships; and how trauma manifests in different facets of the counseling relationship. 

Faye Barner, Ph.D., LPC, CSOTP, LSATP , Clinical Coordinator

Faye Barner is a licensed professional counselor, licensed substance abuse treatment practitioner, and certified sex offender treatment provider. Dr. Barner has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years in both private and community-based settings. Her passions include working with and securing funding for disadvantage population programming as well as developing and implementing adolescent mentoring programs. She is also a professor in Counselor Education and Supervision. She serves as a mentor and clinical supervisor to a host of students and residents in counseling. Her specialty areas are working with adolescence substance use, sex offenders, and domestic violence survivors. Dr. Barner also provides workshops on mental health and substance use.  Dr. Barner received her Doctor of Philosophy from Regent University in Counselor Education and Supervision.

Tiffanie Sutherlin, Ph.D., NCC, Assistant Professor

Dr. Tiffanie Sutherlin, PhD, NCC has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from George Mason University, a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University, and a doctoral degree in Counseling and Supervision from James Madison University. Dr. Sutherlin’s research is focused on the intersection of spirituality and/or religion and mental health. Dr. Sutherlin has an array of clinical experiences which include university counseling centers, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and providing intensive in-home therapy. Her teaching philosophy focuses on inviting students to take an active role in their learning by integrating their lived experiences.

Request Information

Fill out the form and a representative will contact you today to better understand your academic goals plus answer any questions you may have.

Campuses offer flexible learning formats including:
on-campus, virtual instructions and online courses.

By clicking the button below as my official signature, I consent to representatives of South University contacting me about EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES via email, text or phone including my mobile phone if provided above, using an automatic dialer. I understand that my consent is not a requirement for purchase. Message and data rates may apply. I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time. I understand that if I am submitting my personal data from outside of the United States, I consent to the transfer of my personal data to, and its storage in, the United States, and I understand that my personal data will be subject to processing in accordance with U.S. laws.

Success! Your request was submitted. We'll be in touch soon!

In the meantime, you can view some of our FAQs 
success stories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make an impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our alumni and the difference they make. Check out what some of our counseling and psychology graduates have to say.

Sandy S Johnson 2008
Sandy Johnson Grad Alumni
Class of '08
Master of Arts in Professional Counseling

“Having [instructors] that are experts in the field was an inspiration to me and allowed me that firsthand experience of the day-to-day knowledge. I am elated that I had these professors, and when I have had to call on them post-graduation, they have always been so helpful. Having a master's degree has made me a competitive applicant…[and has] given me the confidence in myself to accomplish any goals I may set for myself.”

Mary Blevins 2014
Mary Blevins Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Master of Arts in Professional Counseling

“My education has made a huge difference in my life! Without my degree from South University, I would still be working a dead-end job. The professors had worked extensively in the field and incorporated real-life experiences into the textbook material. For the first time in my life, I can genuinely say I am happy with my career and where I am in life.”

LaDonna Cook 2011
LaDonna Cook Grad Alumni
Class of '11
Master of Arts in Professional Counseling

“South University impacted my life in numerous ways, from the phenomenal staff and faculty who helped me to believe in and challenge myself, to my amazing peers in my cohort, who became lifelong friends. My time at South University was the best. The faculty and staff encouraged us to excel in all areas of our lives, and it pushed me to be a better person and counselor.”

blue cap and gown graduate icon
Niya Warner Calderon Grad Alumni
Class of '10
Master of Arts in Professional Counseling

“My professors at South University placed a great deal of knowledge and resources at my fingertips. My classes were never just a presentation of material; they were a discourse of experience where the instructor could answer the question directly when I asked.”

Ty White 2009
Ty White Grad Alumni
Class of '09
Master of Arts in Professional Counseling

“The teachers were so caring and personable. We all became family. We cried together. We laughed together. It was a domino effect: the people at South University were so helpful to me that I wanted to help others.”

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

The Master of Arts (MA), Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program at South University is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, 1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314, phone (703) 535-5990.)