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MS in Psychology for MFT and LPCC Licenses

MS in Psychology/MFT Program Description, Table of Contents

Main Mission and Features of the MFT/LPCC Curriculum at WISR

MFT Program Goals, Objectives, and Outcomes

Regulations regarding WISR’s MS in Psychology

Awarding Academic Credit to Students in WISR’s MS in Psychology

MS Program Graduation Review Boards

MS in Psychology Program Details:

  • Details about State Licensing
  • Program Content, Descriptions of Courses, and Requirements
  • Transfer of Credit and Admissions

Main Mission and Features of the MFT/LPCC Curriculum at WISR

Students working toward the State of California’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) license are assisted and required to study in the core subject-matter areas required for the license. This includes mastering content in all subject matter areas required by the State of California, including psychopathology, human development, marriage and family counseling theory and techniques, research methodology, psychotherapeutic techniques, human sexuality, cross-cultural counseling, psychological testing and therapeutic appraisal and assessment, psychopharmacology, and professional ethics. Students enrolling since August 2012 have been required to study additional areas and by virtue of new State requirements, the program will be about 33% longer and more intense. New, required areas of study will include: addictions counseling, case management, advanced studies in multicultural/cross-cultural counseling and work with special populations, additional advanced study in counseling theories and methods.

The vast majority of WISR students are mature adults with significant work and family responsibilities, time demands and commitments. Most students will progress at a rate approximately equivalent to half-time enrollment. WISR’s tuition is very affordable, even in comparison to other private institution’s rates for half-time enrollment. All WISR students pay the same tuition, and those students who are able to pursue their studies with an intensity and at a pace comparable to students who are seriously engaged full-time students will very likely be able to graduate in 40 to 50 percent of the estimated time for studies in WISR degree programs. The MS in Psychology toward the State’s MFT license (and optionally the LPCC license) is, by State law, the equivalent of two Master’s degrees (over 60 semester units). Therefore, for many students pursuing the MS in Psychology/MFT at WISR, the length of study at WISR may be expected to be about 6 years, unless they are able to study at the intensity of a seriously engaged full-time student.* In all cases, faculty will strive to support students in their efforts to complete their degree in a timely manner, while also benefiting from their studies at WISR in ways that will help them build bridges to the next important life goals.

*These program length expectations do not include any time off for leaves of absence due to matters resulting from health issues, family responsibilities or periods of financial hardship. Each leave of absence must be for a minimum of six months, during which time the student does not pay tuition, and during which time the student may not receive credit for any efforts related to their studies at WISR. The student pays a $600 re-enrollment fee when resuming their studies..

Students work individually with faculty and receive faculty guidance in doing required readings and assignments in each area that provides the student with a strong foundation in each area of study required by the State, as well as an opportunity to focus on those topics of greatest interest to the student. The student writes a paper in each subject matter area, and faculty help students to identify and pursue paper topics address issues, methods or concepts that are of strong interest to the student, and help prepare the student in his or her areas of anticipated professional specialization.

WISR faculty member, Ronald Mah, LMFT, PhD, has been with WISR for over 25 years

WISR faculty member, Ronald Mah, LMFT, PhD, has been with WISR for over 25 years

In addition, WISR’s coursework is also designed to meet the State of California’s academic requirements to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). Students pursuing the LPCC license must also study Career Development and Group Counseling. MFT students not interested in obtaining the LPCC license do not have to pursue studies in the areas of Career Development and Group Counseling, although it is strongly recommended that they do so anyway. Also, by State law, those students beginning studies for the LPCC license after August 1, 2012 now need to study the additional areas required for the MFT license, as well as some further advanced studies in counseling theories and methods. Overall, those seeking the LPCC license will typically need to spend an extra 3-4 months completing the required LPCC studies, beyond the work required of MFT students. WISR’s program is integrated in such a way as to encourage and enable interested students to pursue both licenses and do thorough study, and still  attain their degree in a timely fashion.

Along with the student’s individual work with faculty in studying the required readings and assignments in each of the State-defined content topics, and along with the more personalized further research, study and paper-writing in each area, students are also strongly encouraged to participate in most of the Saturday class sessions which meet twice each month, and in any case are required to participate in 10 hours of collaborative activity with other students in each of their courses. During the regularly held MFT program seminars, students learn from faculty and explore further with one another the various core areas which contribute toward the State’s requirements for the MFT license. In addition, students must participate in a seminar each month and/or confer with a WISR faculty member about their practicum, while gaining their practicum hours. The dates, times and topics of these seminars is announced over one month in advance to all students, by email and posted on WISR’s website.

Quite importantly the required seminars are available by telephone conference call or by the internet as a video and audio real-time meeting with students and faculty on site at WISR, sometimes supplemented by web-based online sharing of documents and notes in real-time. This is valuable for those students who live too far from our Berkeley site to travel here twice per month.  Students and faculty on site at WISR and those students on the internet or on their phone line, off site, will be able to interact and discuss issues, ideas and questions with one another.

WISR student, William Poehner, at Annual Conference, discussing Nonviolent Communication

WISR student, William Poehner, at Annual Conference, discussing Nonviolent Communication

Mission and Context

Program goals are guided by several important considerations:

  1. First and foremost, WISR’s MFT program goals, outcomes and curriculum is guided by the standards and requirements articulated by the State of California licensing agency, the Board of Behavioral Science.
  2. In addition, the MFT program goals, outcomes and curriculum is guided by WISR’s mission and the learning “meta-competencies” articulated from that mission (e.g., self-directed learning, action-oriented inquiry, multiculturalism, social justice, effective communication and collaboration, and the value of using one’s studies to build bridges to the future) further augment the State’s requirements and expectations.
  3. Finally, in implementing the program goals through program outcomes, course outcomes, module outcomes, and measures, indicators, and evaluation rubrics, we draw on the first two areas of consideration and also on the knowledge gained through WISR’s history of offering a Master’s leading to the State counseling license since 1977, and the collective academic and professional experience and knowledge of WISR’s faculty.

Program Goals

  1. Develop, Evaluate and Apply specialized knowledge in all the areas of professional expertise required for MFT licensure in California*–as defined by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences [see 4980.36 of the California Business and Professions Code](*and also for LPCC licensure for those pursuing that additional option)
  2. Develop in all the areas required by the State, “competent” knowledge and skills, as defined by the Dreyfus Model of Knowledge and Skill Development** [see below]. Develop the knowledge of a “competent” expert within the professional field of Marriage and Family Therapy (as a licensed LPCC as well for those also choosing that added, option). By developing a broad and critically informed professional knowledge base, the student is now prepared and able to continue to develop further through their post-graduate internship experiences toward the professional proficiency required to become licensed as an MFT and/or LPCC in the State of California.
  3. Understand, evaluate, and apply a variety of theories, key concepts, evidence-based findings, and practices in the field of study Marriage and Family Therapy—as defined by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences for MFT Licensure*–including the strengths, limitations, and realms of applicability of those theories, perspectives and practices. (*and also the necessary knowledge for LPCC licensure for those pursuing that additional option)
  4. Develop competence in at least one area of specialization within Marriage and Family Therapy.
  5. Develop an awareness of the therapeutic relevance of multicultural concerns and perspectives, as well as of the connections between specific therapeutic issues and such larger matters as social justice and equality, and bring this awareness to critical study of theories, key concepts, evidence-based findings, and practices relevant to the MFT’s (and if chosen, also LPCC’s) scope of professional practice
  6. Develop skills of “learning how to learn”—methods of action-research, skills as a self-directed learning with capacity for critical thinking and improvisational problem-solving–to advance their specialized knowledge and skills for professional practice as an MFT (and also as a LPCC, for those also choosing that option).

MFT Program Learning Outcomes

A: MFT Program-Specific Learning Outcomes

The student will:

  1. Understand research, theories, key concepts, and professional practices in each area of knowledge and professional practice required by the State of California licensing Board—the Board of Behavioral Sciences. State-required knowledge areas have been grouped into WISR’s required courses, and each WISR MFT and LPCC course has specifically defined learning outcomes that guide and assess student learning progress in developing the required expertise in each area.The areas of understanding to be demonstrated include, quite notably:
      1. a. Foundational and contemporary theories and methods of psychotherapy, and marriage, family, couples, and child counseling.
      1. b. Psychopathology—diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and treatment planning of mental disorders
      1. c. Developmental issues from infancy to old age, and their effects on individuals, couples and family relationships.
      1. d. Cultural competency and sensitivity, multicultural development and cross-cultural interaction,
      1. e. California law and professional ethics for MFTs (and for LPCC for those also pursuing that license),
      1. f. Among such other important areas as, for example, recovery-oriented care, crisis and trauma counseling, addictions, human sexuality, the impact of socio-economic status and poverty, spousal and partner abuse, aging and long-term care, child abuse assessment and reporting, and marriage, divorce, and blended families.
  2. Evaluate key theories and methods of psychotherapy and marriage and family therapy, as indicated by
      1. a. Evaluating the strengths and limitations of a variety of major theories and methods,
      1. b. Evaluating the circumstances in which specific theories and methods are likely to be usefully applied and valuable in professional practice.
  3. Apply skills of conscious and deliberate planning, as indicated by making critical comparisons of alternative courses of therapeutic action. In doing so, they will:
      1. a. Evaluate the relevance and efficacy of their recommended plan(s) of action.
      1. b. Evaluate uncertainties and dilemmas faced by competent professionals in the field, and
      1. c. Identify directions for inquiry to investigate alternative courses of action growing out of these dilemmas, uncertainties, and complexities.
  4. Create theoretical applications and strategic practices in at least one area of specialization within the scope of practice of an LMFT or LPCC, as indicated especially in their Master’s thesis, practicum and course-based action-research projects.

 

    1. Apply skills of doing an effective, critically minded and comprehensive review of the literature in an area of special interest to the student, as indicated by:
        1. a. applying a variety of strategies for searching for relevant sources
        1. b. evaluating quality and credibility of sources
        1. c. effectiveness in discussing and presenting findings, gaps in knowledge, limitations in  existing research, and directions for future research

      Evaluation of these outcomes. These outcomes will be evidenced in the written assignments for each course–and guided and evaluated by course learning outcomes and module learning outcomes within each course. They will also be evaluated and evidenced through the student’s practicum, their course-based action-research projects, their written assignments in courses, their ongoing dialogue with faculty and the oral exams in each course, in the thesis, and in their collaborations with others, such as in seminars and the online forum.

      ***

      In addition to the above-mentioned MFT program-specific PLOs, MFT students must demonstrate the following general PLOs:

      WISR General Program Learning Areas and Outcomes for MFT Students

      The student will:

      B: Self-Directed Learning.  

      Demonstrate skills as a self-directed learner, as indicated by critically minded, intentional, and improvisational learning in doing their course assignments, practicum, and thesis.

      C: Action-Research. 

      Engage in critically informed uses of methods of participatory and action-research in the pursuit of specialized knowledge and competent practice, especially as indicated through their action-research projects and thesis

      D: Multiculturalism and Inclusiveness. 

      Demonstrate an awareness of issues of diversity and inclusiveness, by showing a sensitivity to the issues involved in working with diverse populations, as indicated in their writing, dialogue and/or practicum.

      E: Social Change and Justice. 

      Analyze the connections of mental health issues and therapeutic practices with the bigger, societal picture, by showing in their writing, dialogue and/or action-research projects that they are inquiring into ways of creating change for social justice, greater equality and environmental sustainability, as part of the pursuit of specialized knowledge and competent practice.

      F: Communication and Collaboration. 

          • Demonstrate skills of clear and engaging written communication, by a) writing clearly and in a well-organized fashion, b) showing that they can intentionally identify and communicate to a chosen audience(s), and c) using their own voice on topics that matter to them.
          • Demonstrate skills of effective oral communication and collaboration, as indicated in a) their practicum with professionals and lay people, alike, and b) in seminars and informal dialogue with other students and with faculty, and
          • Produce a thesis that, with only further, modest revisions, is of sufficient quality to be considered seriously for professional publication

      G: Build Bridges to the Future. 

          • Demonstrate an awareness of employment opportunities, in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, or related professional counseling options, appropriate to their specialized capabilities, experience, and interests.
          • Begin building bridges, i.e., specific action steps, to their post-graduate involvements, especially as indicated in their practicum and Master’s thesis.

      Evaluation of these outcomes. These outcomes will be evidenced in the written assignments for each course–and guided and evaluated by course learning outcomes and module learning outcomes within each course. They will also be evaluated and evidenced through the student’s practicum, their course-based action-research projects, their ongoing dialogue with faculty and the oral exams in each course, in the thesis, and in their collaborations with others, such as in seminars and the online forum.

      **Paradigm to Conceptualize Development of Expertise through Learning that Builds on and Integrates the Achievement of Program Learning Outcomes—The Dreyfus Model

       

      The Dreyfus Model is Used to Evaluate the Effectiveness of WISR’s Degree Programs, and to conceptualize the interconnections of degree program learning outcomes. The stages of the Dreyfus Model that are used at WISR are:

          • the stage of “competent” serving as an orienting learning goal to guide students and faculty in the Master’s programs at WISR, and
          • the stage of “proficient” providing an orienting learning goal for students and faculty in the Doctoral program.

      From time to time, we have seminars on this Model at WISR, to engage students and faculty in reflecting on and discussing how to make use of it to aid learning at WISR.  Here are a few highlights to consider.

       

      The “competent” expert comes to appreciate that simple recipes do not adequately address the nuances of, variations in, and complexity of real-life situations. As Master’s students progress in their studies, and are engaged in many levels of learning—for example, the levels articulated in Bloom’s taxonomy: understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating—their behavior and learning are increasingly characterized by the following indicators of the “competent” stage of expert knowledge and skills. They:

          • Engage in deliberate planning
          • Understand the importance of each specific context/situation
          • Use guidelines, not rules, to determine their actions
          • Are emotionally-involved in the outcomes of their actions (a strong sense of Responsibility) (commitment)
          • Use what they see to be the most valuable and “relevant perspectives” for each situation, rather than relying on rules. They may not have the creativity of a proficient expert to develop a new theory or strategy, but they will strategically analyze and evaluate what they have learned to make an educated choice about what they see to be the situationally most appropriate action or plan, from among their knowledge of the “available alternatives.” So, they:
          • Analyze and evaluate what they have learned, and then also make judgements based on their experiences

      To learn more about the Dreyfus model go to: https://www.nateliason.com/blog/become-expert-dreyfus  and

      http://www2.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/ai/cache/Socrates.html

      And also:  Chapter 5, Cases and Stories of Transformative Action Research. Bilorusky, J.  Routledge Press, 2021.

       

       

      Regulations regarding WISR’s MS in Psychology

      Length of Study

      The vast majority of WISR students are mature adults with significant work and family responsibilities, time demands and commitments. Most students will progress at a rate approximately equivalent to half-time enrollment.  WISR’s tuition is very affordable, even in comparison to other private institution’s rates for half-time enrollment. All WISR students pay the same tuition, and those students who are able to pursue their studies with an intensity and at a pace comparable to students who are seriously engaged full-time students will very likely be able to graduate in 40 to 50 percent of the estimated time for studies in WISR degree programs.

      For many students pursuing a MS degree in Psychology, the length of study at WISR may be expected to be as much as 6 years, unless they are able to study at the intensity of a seriously engaged full-time student.* Some students complete this demanding Master’s degree (the equivalent of two Master’s degrees) in about three years. Typically, the maximum allowable length of study toward the Master’s in Psychology degree at WISR is 6 years. Faculty review student progress semi-annually to facilitate each student’s efforts to complete their degree within this maximum amount of time. Students who are consistently engaged in their studies, but who are slowed down due to disabilities or other extenuating factors may petition WISR faculty for permission to take somewhat longer than 6 years to complete their studies.

      In all cases, faculty will strive to support students in their efforts to complete their degree in a timely manner, while also benefiting from their studies at WISR in ways that will help them build bridges to the next important life goals.

      *These program length expectations do not include any time off for leaves of absence due to matters resulting from health issues, family responsibilities or periods of financial hardship.  Each leave of absence must be for a minimum of six months, during which time the student does not pay tuition, and during which time the student may not receive credit for any efforts related to their studies at WISR.  The student pays a $600 re-enrollment fee when resuming their studies.

      Faculty Review of Student Progress

      MS Program Graduation Review Boards

      The recommendation of a MS student’s readiness to begin the culminating Master’s thesis is made by the primary faculty adviser, usually only after at least three-fourths of the other requirements have been completed. At that time, the student writes a thesis proposal, which outlines (1) the major issues and questions to be addressed, (2) the significance of those issues to the student and to others, and (3) the sources of information, the methods of inquiry, and (if appropriate) the modes of action to be used.

      The student then constitutes, with her or his major faculty adviser’s help, a Graduation Review Board composed of at least two WISR Graduate Faculty members, and (since December 2018) one or more outside experts in the student’s field. The Review Board members comment on, critique, and approve the student’s proposal. The proposal then serves as a general guide for the student’s thesis inquiry. However, it is subject to change, and the student is expected to discuss his or her thesis progress with each Review Board member throughout the work on the thesis. Review Board members comment on and critique at least one rough draft, but usually two drafts. The student’s major faculty adviser helps to facilitate and mediate disagreements if Review Board members make inconsistent suggestions for change. We recommend to students, but do not require, that they identify two (or more) current and/or former WISR students to be part of a “peer support group” to aid them in the work on their thesis or dissertation—by serving as a sounding board and support group to discuss their progress and challenges, and in some cases, to read and comment on student drafts or portions of drafts when requested to do so by the student.

      Faculty serving on a Graduation Review Board shall have been active in their field of scholarship or profession during the five year period preceding their participation on the Review Board.

      Once the faculty adviser and the student are confident that all Review Board members are ready to approve the thesis, a final Graduation Board meeting is held. At that time, Review Board validates that the student is responsible for their work on thesis, and the student discusses and answers questions about the thesis and their learning in working on it, and throughout the entire degree program. The student is questioned about their future plans, and how the experience at WISR will contribute to the student’s future work. The Review Board may also examine the student’s academic accomplishments throughout the program, and discuss them with the student. Finally, each graduating student is required to submit a written self-evaluation, which includes a critical reflection on what she or he has learned in the program, and a discussion of insights gained, challenges and obstacles encountered, and WISR’s strengths and weaknesses in contributing to the student’s learning.

      More Information on:

      Grading and Awarding Academic Credit and Academic Policies and Procedures

      Expectations for Collaboration at WISR

      For information on Program Requirements and Courses, go to:

      Program Details!