In the 2015-2016 academic year NNU graduated 34 students from the Counselor Education Master’s in Science program. There were 19 students graduating from the Clinical Counseling track, 9 students from the School Counseling track, and 5 students from the Marriage and Family Counseling track. While some students choose to extend their education beyond the normal full-time schedule, on average, 90% of our students graduate within the expected time period of eight semesters. 80% of our 2016 graduates passed their licensure exam the first time. We are proud of the job placement rate of our graduates. All but one of our most recent graduates are currently employed, with 90% of our graduates found employment within three months after graduation. Several of them had job offers during their final semester of the program. We believe this job placement rate is a significant indicator of the reputation of NNU’s Counselor Education program.
The Department of Counselor Education is currently undergoing a strategic planning and assessment process as we prepare for re-accreditation with the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). As a result of this planning process we developed program objectives that have determined to a) strengthen the program through additional pre-requisites for the clinical portion of the program, b) increase the number of sections for some core classes in order to maintain a smaller class size, and c) address needed changes in class planning schedules for students starting in a spring semester.
The NNU Counselor Education faculty have worked diligently to solidify wording and accurate descriptions of the program objectives to align with the 2016 CACREP standards. As a result of this work, Program Objectives related to core themes of the department were constructed and identified as follows:
Critical Analysis: The Counselor Education Department seeks to educate academically prepared counselors. Critical Analysis is defined as the capacity to expand knowledge through critical thinking, evaluation, and synthesis of literature and research, as well as developing the capacity to engage with the body of knowledge by conducting original research and utilizing existing research in guiding clinical assessment, planning, and decision-making.
Professional Identity and Development: The Counselor Education Department aims to produce counselors who establish and maintain a strong connection to the profession. Professional Identity and Development refers to the intentional identity transformation as a professional counselor; including intellectual, social, and experiential engagement in appropriate professional activities and making contributions to the field of counseling.
Relational Knowing: The Counselor Education Department aims to prepare skilled and relationally competent practitioners. Relational Knowing is defined as the capacity of the student to cultivate positive, caring professional relationships with individuals, groups, supervisors, colleagues, and peers, as well as exhibit strong social and counseling skills for working within systems and within the broader community.
Social and Cultural Responsiveness: The Counselor Education Department intends to produce multiculturally competent and socially minded practitioners. Social and Cultural Responsiveness is defined as cultural self-awareness, diverse social awareness, intentional advocacy within appropriate social and professional counseling contexts, and purpose-driven service to the broader culture and the counseling profession.
Dispositions: The Counselor Education Department aspires to prepare dispositionally appropriate counselors who are a good fit for the profession. Dispositional Inquiry refers to the goodness of fit between the individual, the NNU graduate counseling program, and the overarching field of counseling. This also includes the student’s personification of the characteristics of professional helpers, as well as the broader characteristics associated with being spiritually grounded, emotionally healthy, mature adults. Central to NNU program outcomes is dispositions. While CACREP has few standards related to dispositions, the person of the counselor and his/her appropriateness for the field is believed by the NNU counselor education faculty to be central to competence in performance outcomes.
Incorporated into these five program objectives are 14 student learning outcomes related to the core curriculum and corresponding 23 key performance indicators. The department embraces a concept that students need to demonstrate effectiveness in the core curriculum in order to have the capability of demonstrating effectiveness in the program standards.
The faculty of NNU’s Counselor Education program are committed to ongoing evaluation and assessment as we endeavor to educate, train, and prepare competent, compassionate, and spiritually grounded counselors to assist members of our diverse society. For more information about Northwest Nazarene University’s Counselor Education program please contact our Program Coordinator, Lynda Gray at 208.467.8345 or firstname.lastname@example.org.