Clinical Mental Health. Schools.

WVU offers students a comprehensive program that prepares counseling practitioners in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. We emphasize listening and relationship skills, techniques, theories, and the art of helping. Courses are designed to train graduates to be counselors in agencies, schools, correctional facilities, treatment centers, and private practice. We offer a wide variety of courses to prepare graduates for the range of clients they may see when working while allowing graduates to feel proficient in both individual and group counseling.

Our students come from West Virginia, surrounding states, and all parts of the country. Faculty members have varied backgrounds and some have written texts used nationally. Each faculty member has his or her view of counseling, exposing students to a wide variety of opinions and theories.


Our program is the only counselor-education program in West Virginia accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

(Note: The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is currently accredited under the 2001 standards for Community Counseling programs as a Community Counseling program. The CACREP 2009 standards combine the Community Counseling and Mental Health Counseling standards into standards for Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs. The counseling program intends to seek accreditation for this program as a Clinical Mental Health Counseling program when it comes up for reaccreditation, per CACREP guidelines.)

Mission Statement

The counselor education program at West Virginia University forwards the land grant mission of the University in a rural state by providing a strong practitioner training program focused on the unique needs of the Appalachian region and other diverse communities. We are committed to preparing entry-level community mental health and school counselors to work competently and ethically within a pluralistic society. Our central organizing approach to counseling rests in the understanding of the human development needs of individuals, couples, families, and groups across the lifespan.

Program Objectives

The following objectives correspond with the specific requirements of CACREP and are derived from our mission statement:

1. Professional Orientation and Identity – Students will demonstrate an understanding of counseling as a profession, develop a professional identity, and demonstrate their ability to function effectively within the ethical guidelines established by the American Counseling Association in settings that offer counseling and related services to diverse populations.

2. Counseling Theory – Students will learn a range of counseling theories applicable when working in a pluralistic society with individuals, groups, couples, families, and children in the counseling process, and demonstrate the ability to apply this knowledge in a therapeutic manner within rural and diverse communities.

3. Helping Relationships – Students will develop skills to work with individuals, groups, couples, families, and children that promote therapeutic change and demonstrate their ability to evaluate progress in meeting counseling objectives.

4. Social and Cultural Diversity – Students will develop an awareness of the impact of social and cultural factors on human behavior and recognize the role of individual differences in establishing and working toward counseling objectives.

5. Human Growth and Development – Students will learn stages of development throughout the lifespan and the importance of assessing and considering developmental goals when working with both children and adults.

6. Career Development – Students will learn the role of career development theory as applied to working with children, adolescents, and adults and the impact of economic and cultural factors on career decisions, job performance, and lifestyle.

7. Group Dynamics – Students will learn the purpose and function of groups, group dynamics, and the application of counseling theories and leadership skills within the group setting to promote decision-making and growth.

8. Assessment – Students will learn to determine appropriate assessment techniques when working with individuals, groups, couples, families, children and adolescents and utilize relevant information within the counseling process.

9. Research and Program Evaluation – Students will develop the ability to read and evaluate professional research literature and incorporate such information into their professional development.

10. Specialization – Students will develop specific knowledge relevant to the student’s area of interest (i.e. addictions, mental health, children, school) and will learn for their area of interest how to provide professional services including assessment, prevention, referral, and program development, implementation, and management.

11. Experiential Learning – Students will demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to be an effective professional counselor through supervised practicum and internship experiences.

12. Personal Growth and Understanding – Students will explore values and beliefs as they pertain to their evolving roles as professional counselors and develop a level of self-understanding that leads to an integrated personal approach to counseling and client advocacy.

Annual Report
The 2014-2015 Annual Report for the
Counseling Program at West Virginia University

The past 12 months has been a productive time for the counseling program at West Virginia University. The program graduated 9 students in the school counseling program and 11 students in the clinical mental health program (accredited as community counseling until our next accrediting cycle which will be in 2016). The program had a 94% pass rate on the National Counseling Examination and 100% pass rate on the Praxis II for school counselors. The program currently has 64 students which includes first year students, second year students, sport psychology students, and part-time students.

Currently faculty members include:
Dr. Ed Jacobs—Coordinator
Dr. Christine Schimmel—Coordinator of the school counseling program
Dr. Monica Leppma—Field Placement Coordinator
Dr. Jennifer Taylor—half time Counselor Ed—half time Counseling Psychology
Heidi O’Toole—Visiting Instructor
Dr. Jeffrey Daniels—Department Chairperson

The program also employs adjuncts who teach and supervise field experiences.

Summary of Program Evaluations
In ongoing efforts to improve the program, each year the program sends out evaluation surveys to recent graduates and their employers, supervisors of our students, and our current students. Overall, the evaluations received were positive. Areas for improvement were revealed in these surveys and the faculty is committed to addressing each of those. Our goal is to make this a program where students enjoy the experience while becoming very competent practitioners. Below are a small sample of some of the responses.

Program Strengths
• 100% of supervisors who responded agreed or strongly agreed that the faculty and staff of the WVU Counseling Program do a good job in preparing students.

• 100% of responding supervisors agreed or strongly agreed they would recommend the WVU counselor preparation program to others.
• 100% of alumni who responded agreed or strongly agreed that based on their graduate education, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for their clients effectively. The faculty was pleased to see this, as we have been emphasizing more the last couple of years the role of advocacy in this profession.
• 100% of responding second year students agreed or strongly agreed that they felt overall prepared to begin employment in the counseling profession.

• 92% of responding first year students agreed or strongly agreed they would recommend this counseling preparation program to others.

• Personal growth and self-exploration are mentioned frequently as high points of our program.

Program Modifications
As a result of the surveys and reviewing the CACREP standards, faculty have made some program modifications. The faculty are improving the content delivery in two of the courses: Introduction to Clinical Mental Health and Theory of Human Appraisal. The faculty have made changes in the field placement process that should make the process easier and better for students. The faculty also are going to infuse more professional identity activities into the curriculum (students now have to attend one local, state, or national workshop or conference during their time in the program) along with increased attention to program evaluation strategies. Another new requirement is that students must lead at least one group during practicum or internship. And we are continuing to work on improving the growth groups and faculty-student relationships.

Closing Comments:
The faculty want to thank all of you who are a part of this program in some way. We, the faculty, are continuing to work hard to make the program at WVU one of the best in the country. We are committed to training outstanding professional school and clinical mental health counselors. We know we can do better and we believe that 2015-2016 will be better in many ways than the previous year.