At its core, UNC Charlotte’s Ph.D. Program in Counseling prepares multiculturally competent, ethical, clinically skilled, and knowledgeable professionals for positions as counselor educators in university settings, advanced clinicians, or counselor supervisors in schools and community settings. Beyond this mission, a number of program features make UNC Charlotte’s Ph.D. in Counseling unique. These features include:
The Department of Counseling at UNC Charlotte features a diverse faculty from different backgrounds and with varied research interests. The faculty is diverse in language, race, gender, sexual orientation, experience, specialty areas, and research approaches. Faculty members’ expertise spans school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, play therapy, addictions counseling, and couples and family counseling. All faculty members have counseling experience in school, community, or agency settings.
Three Master’s Counseling Program Specialties
In addition to offering a Ph.D. in Counseling, UNC Charlotte’s Department of Counseling also offers a Master of Arts Program with three specialties: school counseling, addictions counseling, and clinical mental health counseling. Throughout their program of study, Counseling Ph.D. students have the opportunity to supervise students in each of these specialties and co-teach or teach courses in these specialty areas. By attending a counseling program that offers three Master’s tracks, Counseling Ph.D. students graduate with well-rounded experience working with counseling students of all specialties.
Community outreach is a core value embraced by UNC Charlotte’s College of Education and Department of Counseling, Currently, the program is engaged in a number of community partnerships. For example, Dr. Daniel Gutierrez and Dr. Sejal Foxx are conducting a grant-funded intervention with students at the Performance Learning Center High School in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County. Dr. Pam Lassiter annually hosts the McLeod Institute, a week of professional development activities surrounding substance abuse counseling. Dr. Post annually hosts the Multicultural Play Therapy Conference, featuring both national and local talent in play therapy, which provides a week of professional development for professionals in our region. In addition, new community partnerships are created yearly between faculty members in the Department of Counseling and school and community agencies.
Diverse Clinical Partnerships
The Department of Counseling has established numerous clinical partnerships with schools, hospitals, community agencies, and private practices that provide mutually benefits for students and these organizations. Counseling Ph.D. students work with the Clinical Director and their doctoral program committee to select appropriate clinical sites for their practica and internships.
Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy
UNC Charlotte’s Department of Counseling is home to the only Multicultural Play Therapy Center in the country. The mission serves to promote inclusion and value diversity while helping young children through play therapy. Counseling Ph.D. students, as well as professionals in the community, have the opportunity to earn a Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy while at UNC Charlotte by completing four courses in play therapy. In addition, Ph.D. students can choose to assist Dr. Phyllis Post in planning and executing the center’s annual Multicultural Play Therapy Conference, which regularly sees 350-500 participants each year.
Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling
UNC Charlotte’s Department of Counseling has one of only five CACREP-accredited Addictions Counseling Master’s Programs in the country. In addition to its Master’s degree, the department also offers a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling. Interested Counseling Ph.D. students have the opportunity to complete four courses and an internship in substance abuse counseling to earn the certificate. This work can prepare Counseling Ph.D. students for clinical work in the addictions field or for counselor education positions with an addictions emphasis.
Commitment to Clinical Experience
In addition to an emphasis on multiculturalism, the Department of Counseling also values sound clinical work in its Ph.D. students and graduates. To that end, the Ph.D. in Counseling Program of Study contains clinical practica and internship experiences. For seasoned counselors, these experiences provide a chance to build advanced skills, practice new specialties, and prepare for supervision and counselor education internships. For more recent counseling graduates, these clinical experiences allow students to build expert counseling skills and prepare for supervision and counselor education internships.
Range of Electives
In addition to specialty courses in play therapy, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling, UNC Charlotte’s Department of Counseling also features a unique range of additional electives. For example, students can take elective courses such as Theories of Family Counseling, Counseling Needs of Women, Sexual Orientation Diversity in Clinical Practice, Crisis Counseling, Solution-Focused Brief Counseling, Grief and Loss Counseling, and Cognitive-Behavior Theory.
Emphasis on Multiculturalism and Social Justice
One of the most distinguishing features of UNC Charlotte’s Ph.D. in Counseling Program is its emphasis on multiculturalism and social justice in counseling and counselor education. This emphasis is apparent in the Ph.D. in Counseling program of study, which includes several courses about multiculturalism, and is also woven throughout coursework and clinical experiences. Moreover, many of the faculty members in the Department of Counseling conduct research on topics of multiculturalism and social justice, such as counseling biracial students in schools, counseling LGBTQ parents, and examining spirituality in the counseling process. Most importantly, multiculturalism and social justice inform the culture of UNC Charlotte’s Department of Counseling. It is evident in department policies, teaching, service, and research.