FAQs

FAQs

 

What is Mental Health Counseling?

Mental health counseling means the application of principles of human development, learning theory, group dynamics, and psychopathology to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations, for the purpose of treating mental disorders and promoting optimal mental health and functionality. It includes, but is not limited to, the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, educational techniques developed to prevent such disorders, as well as the application of a wellness model of mental health. Mental health counselors and programs strive to follow principles and standards established by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Mental Health Counselors Association. Licensed counselors have become one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. Currently, 48 states have authorized the licensure of counselors. New York has recently recognized the need to license mental health counselors with the passage of the Laws of 2002, Chapter 676, Education Law Article 163. In 2005, the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, Sections 52.32-52.35, and Subparts 79-9 – 79-12, established educational criteria for licensing mental health counselors; and the State Education Department has begun authorizing university programs that prepare students for this career.

What is Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

Forensic mental health involves the application of counseling theory and practice to criminal justice, family court, and other legal settings. Many counselors will be working in forensic treatment settings, with forensic populations that require specialized training. Such settings will include jails and prisons, juvenile detention centers, hospitals, clinics, social service agencies, probation and parole offices, child protective services, and the courts. In addition to the standard required courses in counseling, the Forensic Mental Health Counseling Program will offer students the opportunity to take specialized courses in criminal behavior and aggression, juvenile delinquency, alcohol and crime, correctional and reentry counseling, risk assessment, family violence, victimology, crisis intervention, policing, sex offenders, terrorism, violent cults, and criminal profiling, among others.

What is the MA in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at John Jay College?

The Masters of Arts in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at John Jay College of Criminal Justice has now been approved by New York State as a “license eligible” academic program. It satisfies the state’s educational requirements leadings toward professional licensure as a Mental Health Counselor, with a specialization in forensics. It develops skills in interviewing, counseling, and assessment, based upon established principles and research regarding human development, personality, psychopathology, and counseling. Students will be uniquely prepared to work towards licensure as counselors in prisons, juvenile detention centers, probation and parole agencies, and social service agencies that counsel and assess adolescents and adults at risk for criminal behavior. The program offers research opportunities for those students interested in pursuing doctoral education; as well as related courses leading to a certificate as a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC).

What are Excellence Fees and how do they benefit the FMHC graduate program?

The MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling has been designated as a program of Excellence by CUNY, and will be adding an Excellence Fee charge to each of its courses beginning in Spring 2016. These charges will be used solely to enhance the excellence of MA Programs. The FMHC Program soon will be creating the following positions for full-time faculty to engage with students: Diversity Student Advisor: MA-JD & Law Advisor; Clubs, Special Events & Training: Media Developer of Weekly Updated MA Newsletter, Facebook & Twitter: Doctoral Applications & Research Advisor: Financial Aid & Conference Reimbursement Advisor: and an MA Ongoing Self-Study Coordinator:

In addition, Excellence Fees will be used to sponsor in-house student speakers and workshops; reimbursement for conference attendance; and the hiring of a full-time Program Administrator and an Externship & Career Advisor.

 

What are the degree requirements for the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

The degree will require 60 credits. The program will contain a group of twelve required courses (36 credits); three to six forensic mental health electives (9-18- credits); two permitted cognate courses (0-6 credits) for particularized student interests; plus a 600 hour (6 credits) supervised fieldwork internship. Beginning students will be expected to complete courses in Introduction to Forensic Mental Health Counseling; Mental Health Professionals, Social Science and the Law; Psychopathology; Intermediate Statistics; and Research Methods, before the completion of their first 30 credits.

What are the required courses in the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

Required Courses:     Subtotal: 36 Credits
  • Introduction to Forensic Mental Health Counseling (PSY 7XX).
  • Mental Health Professionals, Social Science, and the Law (PSY 700).
  • Human Growth and Development (PSY 731).
  • Theories of Personality (PSY 741).
  • Psychotherapy and Counseling Methods (PSY 760).
  • Psychopathology (PSY 745).
  • Clinical Interviewing and Assessment (PSY 761).
  • Introduction to Assessment (PSY 7XX). [Ed note: currently PSY 830].
  • Research Methods (PSY 715).
  • Group Dynamics and Treatment (PSY 765).
  • Intermediate Statistics in the Social Sciences (PSY 769).
  • Clinical Instruction (PSY 7XX).

 

Required Supervised Internship     Subtotal: 6 Credits

  • Fieldwork in Counseling I (PSY 780).
  • Fieldwork in Counseling II (PSY 781).

What are the electives in the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

Forensic Mental Health Electives                    Subtotal:  9-18 Credits
All Departmental courses numbered 800-899 also satisfy forensic mental health counseling elective distribution requirements.

  • Criminal Behavior (PSY 701).
  • Violence and Aggression (PSY 703).
  • Victimology (PSY 705).
  • Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Offender (PSY 707).
  • Crisis Intervention and Short-term Treatment (PSY 708).
  • Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (PSY 714).
  • The Evaluation and Treatment of the Juvenile Offender (PSY 716).
  • Social Science Evidence in Court (PSY 718).
  • Social Psychology and the Legal System (PSY 720).  
  • The Evaluation and Treatment of the Sex Offenders (PSY 722).
  • Mental Health Issues in Policing (PSY 726).
  • Eyewitness Identification (PSY 727).
  • Terrorism (PSY 729).
  • Ethical Issues in Forensic Mental Health (PSY 730).
  • Criminal Forensic Assessment (PSY 734).
  • Clinical Crime Scene Analysis (PSY 739).
  • Family Violence and Disputes (PSY 742).
  • Empirical Profiling Methods (PSY 746).
  • Empirical Crime Scene Analysis (PSY 748).
  • Personality Assessment I: Intelligence and Cognition (PSY 751).
  • Personality Assessment II: Projective Techniques (PSY 752).
  • Personality Assessment III: Objective Personality Assessment (PSY 753).
  • Mental Health Evaluation, Consultation and Testimony in the Criminal Justice System (PSY 754).
  • Personality Profiles of the Homicidal Offender (PSY 766).
  • Brain and Behavior (PSY 779).

Forensic Mental Health Thesis Track Electives      Subtotal:  0-9 Credits

  • Descriptive and Statistical Data Analysis (PSY 737).
  • Advanced Research Methods (PSY 738).
  • Prospectus Seminar (PSY 791).

 

Students interested in the thesis track must obtain approval from a full-time faculty mentor serving as a thesis sponsor before enrolling in PSY 791.  They must also achieve a grade of A or A- (or the permission of a thesis sponsor and the Program Director) in Psychology 715, 737, 738, and 769 before PSY 791enrollment.

CASAC Track Electives     0-9 Credits

  • Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (PSY 714).
  • Social Aspects of Alcoholism and Drug Use (CRJ 714).
  • Ethical Issues in Forensic Mental Health (PSY 730).
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Students pursuing the Credential in Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counseling (CASAC) must complete their fieldwork requirements (PSY 780 and 781) in a OASAS-licensed facility.  They must also complete five undergraduate courses in the John Jay CASAC program, in addition to the 60 credits required for the MA in Forensic Mental Health Counseling. 

Cognate Courses       Subtotal:  0-6 Credits
Students may enroll in up to two additional graduate courses offered at John Jay College, including those courses in the MA Programs in Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, Forensic Computing, or Public Administration.

What are the prerequisites for admission to the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

Students must be graduates of an accredited four-year college. The minimum undergraduate GPA is 3.0. Students must have completed at least 12 undergraduate credits in psychology, plus Statistics and Experimental Psychology/Research Methods. The General GRE is required for all applicants, and most students who are accepted have a combined score of at least 1000 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections combined. The Psychology Subject GRE is not required.

Who are the faculty? What are their areas of expertise and interests?

The more than 35 full-time members of the faculty possess a unique blend of expertise in research, scholarship and teaching. Our adjuncts are often actively working in the forensic counseling field. A number of our faculty members have both law degrees and Ph.D.'s. Several professors have extensive experience as clinicians in forensic units of hospitals, in family court, or as consultants to police departments. Among their interests are: dangerousness; screening of criminal justice applicants; jury and eyewitness research; insanity defense evaluations; child custody; the consequences of early childhood victimization; hostage negotiations; informed consent; group dynamics and cults; women and crime; delinquency; brainwashing; violence; and multicultural issues. Most have published significant articles and/or books on these and many other topics. For more information about our faculty, click on their Faculty Profiles at this site.

How do graduates of the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling utilize their training?

Most of those who graduate from this program will then work in jobs in social service and state agencies acquiring 3000 hours of counseling experience under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional. They will then take a national exam in Mental Health Counseling and apply for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor in New York State. Following licensure, such individuals will be able to practice as licensed counselors in state and agency jobs as well as in private practice in New York State.

Does the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling lead to licensure in other states?

While the New York State requirements for Mental Health Counselors are similar to the requirements in other states, each state has its own regulations which may differ somewhat from those in New York. Consequently, if graduates of the program apply for licensure in other states, their coursework here may be fully accepted, or they may be required to do additional coursework or clinical training, depending upon the state.

Do graduates of the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling pursue further academic study?

While the MA degree is considered a “terminal” degree for counseling practice, some students will pursue doctoral level study in Counselor Education programs or in Psychology programs. If doctoral studies with an academic career are being considered, students should consider the thesis track electives in the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling.

What research opportunities are there in the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

The MA Program has an enhanced thesis track for those students who wish to focus on research. Interested students take Research Design and Methods and Intermediate Statistics during their first year. In following semesters, continuing students may enroll in two additional research oriented courses: Descriptive and Statistical Data Analysis in Psychology and Advanced Research Methods. Students who achieve an A or A- in all four courses will be assured an opportunity to enroll in the Thesis Prospectus Seminar, under the supervision of a thesis mentor. The enhanced track and course descriptions can be found in the current John Jay Graduate Bulletin. Students may also find other opportunities for research through their regular coursework and through interaction with department faculty. Please note that, unlike the MA Program in Forensic Psychology, all students in the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling must do a 600 hour externship, even if they choose the thesis track.

May students who have already graduated from an MA Program apply to the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

Graduates of the John Jay College MA Program in Forensic Psychology, who completed their MA by May, 2008, may transfer all of their credits into the FMHC Program; while those who completed their MA after May, 2008, may transfer 30 credits into the FMHC Program. Graduates of any other MA Programs are limited to the transfer of a maximum of 12 credits into the FMHC Program.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing an MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling versus an MA Program in Forensic Psychology?

The advantage of the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling is that it leads to licensure in New York as a mental health professional with enhanced job opportunities, including eventual private practice as a Mental Health Counselor, if desired.

The advantage of the MA Program in Forensic Psychology is that it requires only 42 instead of 60 credits. In addition, students who wish to apply for a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Psychology may do so without additional master's level work. They may also concentrate on psychological research and perhaps a thesis without the necessity of an externship requirement. The MA in Forensic Psychology will continue to offer program graduates the opportunity to practice in state and county facilities as a master's level psychologist, although not in social service agencies or in private practice in New York. Most states offer regulated public sector job opportunities for graduates of the MA Program in Forensic Psychology.

In considering the advantages and disadvantages of the two MA Programs, it is recommended that students who wish to have a professional clinical career at the MA level following graduation would have the most opportunities in the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling. However, those who wish to apply to psychology doctoral programs following graduation from the MA Program might prefer the Forensic Psychology option.

Is it possible to transfer between the MA Program in Forensic Psychology and the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at John Jay?

Students in good standing (GPA of 3.0 or higher) may transfer at any time from the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling to the MA Program in Forensic Psychology, while they are matriculated at John Jay College. Students who are in the MA Program in Forensic Psychology may apply at any time to transfer into the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling, but such applications are competitive due to space availability.

Is there a BA/MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

There is no BA/MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at this time, although such a program is in development.

Is there financial aid available?

There are some state and federal grants and loans which are available at John Jay College, as well as at most universities. Work Study Programs are also available for financially qualified applicants. A few additional scholarships are awarded at the beginning of each semester. For further information, contact John Jay's Office of Student Financial Services or finaid@jjay.cuny.edu or 212-237-8151. Students are encouraged to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for aid and loans. Information about this program can be found athttp://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ 

How do I apply to the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling?

Application forms and catalogs may be obtained through our Admissions Office website or in person at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 445 West 59th Street, Room 4260N, New York, NY 10019. Applications may be also requested by telephone at (212) 237-8863. For additional information about the MA Program in Forensic Mental Health Counseling, please contact: Professor James Wulach atjwulach@jjay.cuny.edu.