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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

MFT Program Goals, Learning Outcomes and Measures

WISR’s Learning Goals and Outcomes for this program were formulated based on the combined insights from several bodies of knowledge:

  1. The Learning Goals are derived from WISR’s mission and from the 7 core areas of learning and “meta-competencies” emphasized in all WISR’s degree programs.
  2. The Specific Learning Outcomes are derived from the 7 core areas and from the definition of “competence” in the Dreyfus Model of Knowledge and Skill Development.  That is, Master’s students in this program are expected to develop special in-depth knowledge and competent skills of inquiry and action in the professional field of Marriage and Family  Therapy, and in at least one particular area of personal interest within that field. Specifically, the stated learning outcomes for this program are indicative of having attained the stage of “competence”, as defined by the Dreyfus Model of Knowledge and Skill Development (see for example: 1) https://www.nateliason.com/blog/become-expert-dreyfus   2) https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a084551.pdf  and 3) http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/ai/cache/Socrates.html   )
  3. The collective experience of WISR faculty engaged with students in learner-centered education over the past 40+ years.
  4. Developmental approaches to learning, such as those articulated by John Dewey and Lev Vygotsky that emphasize the importance of providing each student with the needed personalized challenge and support to move from where they “are” to the successful attainment of these learning outcomes—and to do so in ways that are personally meaningful to each student. The objectives and expected outcomes of each course are designed to contribute to this developmental process—so that students not only benefit from “course-specific” learning, but are also able to use the learning in each course to develop toward the successful attainment of a number of the program learning outcomes.

 

Major learning goals, outcomes and measures of the outcomes for students in this program are stated below:

 

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP SKILLS AS A SELF-DIRECTED LEARNER, INCLUDING BECOMING A CONSCIOUS, INTENTIONAL AND IMPROVISATIONAL LEARNER

Master’s students will develop as self-directed learners who are able to identify relevant topics for study and to participate actively with faculty in developing a coherent plan of personalized study across WISR courses. They will learn how to do conscious and deliberate planning and critically reflective comparison of alternative courses of action. In pursuing their studies, the student will be articulate plans for building bridges for the next steps in their life, and particularly, a definition of their role as a knowledgeable and competent professional and/or community leader in their area(s) of specialized knowledge and practice.

Faculty will support and challenge each student’s development in this learning goal area, and will evaluate their progress in achieving the following required learning outcomes:

  1. The student will develop, with faculty guidance, a coherent plan of personalized study.
  2. As part of the development of this plan, the student will assess their learning strengths and
  3. The student will identify alternative courses of action for their studies at WISR and beyond graduation.
  4. The student will articulate at least one plan for becoming expert in their major area(s) of specialization;
  5. The student will articulate at least one plan for building bridges toward the future as a professional and/or community leader, including their definition of their role as an expert.

Measures: These outcomes will be evidenced in how they identify and successfully study special topics of interest for in depth study within each WISR course, especially in doing their papers and action-research labs for each course, as well as in their thesis. Furthermore, the student’s competence as a self-directed learner with be evidenced in faculty-student dialogue and faculty observations of the student’s learning processes, oral exams, and the student’s written self-assessments, as well as in how their sense of purpose and plans are reflected in their papers, action-research projects, and thesis.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP EXPERTISE IN METHODS OF PARTICIPATORY AND ACTION-RESEARCH

Master’s students will become competent in using methods of action-research. They will learn and use methods of action-research on various specific topics of inquiry and action in their courses, and especially in the thesis. This includes the ability to discuss the rationale, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the action-research methods used, along with practical and ethical considerations. Their thesis and other action-research projects will be designed to contribute to improved practices and knowledge in the student’s main area(s) of emphasis.

Faculty will support and challenge each student’s development in this learning goal area, and will evaluate their progress in achieving the following required learning outcomes:

  1. The student will use methods of action-research in more than one way, and with more than one purpose, in their courses and the thesis.
  2. The student will identify strengths and limitations of their uses of these methods.
  3. The student will identify questions for further study and possible follow up actions that would be appropriate.
  4. The student will identify ethical and practical considerations that they had to take into account.
  5. They will articulate an overall rationale for why they designed their action-research project the way that they did, and why they designed it this way rather than using a different alternative.
  6. In at least one course (most often, the thesis), the student will design and successfully pursue a coherent action-research project with a clearly articulated purpose, and that is likely to be of benefit to others, by contributing to improved practices and knowledge in the student’s main area(s) of emphasis.

Measures: These outcomes will be evidenced, especially in the student’s papers and action-research labs, and in the thesis. In addition, the student’s written self-assessments and oral exams will demonstrate the depth of the student’s understanding of methods of action-research.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP A MULTICULTURAL, INCLUSIVE PERSPECTIVE

Master’s students will reflect on, and articulate, with some degree of nuance and complexity, how multicultural concerns and perspectives can be incorporated into the ideas and practices of their broad major field of study—Marriage and Family Therapy–as well as in their area(s) of specialization. In addition, they will reflect on, and articulate, the relevance of multicultural perspectives in improving ideas and practices in their field of study and area(s) of specialization. This could include discussing the relevance, to their field of study and specializations, of the development, and practice of, empathy, compassion, a sense of community with others–and an appreciation of the broad spectrum of perspectives and consciousness that arise out of people’s culture, gender identity, economic background, religious and sexual preferences. By integrating a multicultural perspective into their knowledge and skills, the student will be further demonstrating their depth of knowledge in their field and specialization(s)—by showing that they are using a holistic and nuanced perspective expected of someone capable of functioning at the “competent” stage of knowledge and skill development.

Faculty will support and challenge each student’s development in this learning goal area, and will evaluate their progress in achieving the following required learning outcomes:

  1. The student will identify and discuss the relevance of multicultural concerns and perspectives, to what they studied–in their papers and/or senior thesis, and/or in their written self-assessments, in their collaboration with other students, and in oral exams.
  2. The student will also identify challenges and practical considerations that might be involved in making use of those multicultural concerns and perspectives. In identifying these challenges and considerations, the student is expected to demonstrate and articulate an awareness of dilemmas and complexities that might be involved.
  3. The student will identify the relevance to their area(s) of specialization of–multicultural concerns and perspectives, and/or the practice of empathy, compassion and inclusiveness in community with others.

Measures: These learning outcomes will be evidenced in the student’s papers, action-research labs, written self-assessments, oral exams, dialogue with faculty and other students, and thesis.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP SKILLS IN MAKING CONNECTIONS WITH THE BIGGER PICTURE AND INQUIRING INTO WAYS OF CREATING CHANGE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, GREATER EQUALITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Master’s students will continually practice, in their reflections in their readings and in different situations in doing action-research, connecting “micro” issues and perspectives with “macro” dynamics and perspectives continually. Students are to demonstrate an awareness of the connections between immediate situations and the “bigger picture”–to formulate and develop their own, holistic perspective, as a guide to their studies and to their own professional and/or community leadership plans.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence:

  1. The student will identify a “micro” as well as a “macro” perspective on their topic of study.
  2. The student will identify the connections between the “bigger picture” and the immediate, everyday experience.
  3. The student will use the identified connections to suggest concepts, action plans and/or research questions to more deeply examine the topic of concern, and to guide their future studies and/or professional or community involvement, and more generally.
  4. The student will identify at least one way in which an awareness of a micro/macro connection is important in their area of specialization.

Outcomes: The development, use and refining of the student’s holistic perspective on the topics of concern to them will be evidenced in the writings in their papers, reflections on readings, and self-assessments; in their projects in the action-research labs, as well as in dialogue with faculty and fellow students, and oral exams.

THE STUDENT WILL BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE CLEARLY TO THEIR AUDIENCE(S), IN THEIR OWN VOICE AND ON TOPICS THAT MATTER TO THEM, AND LEARN TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS

Master’s students will be able to write and to discuss ideas and practices in their interdisciplinary field of study of Marriage and Family Therapy, and in their specific area(s) of specialization. They will do so in depth and with clarity, and by communicating the relevance of different circumstances and theoretical perspectives.

Faculty will support and challenge each student’s development in this learning goal area, and will evaluate their progress in achieving the following required learning outcomes:

In their writing . . .

  1. The student will demonstrate an awareness of at least one possible audience, and that shows an awareness of the needs, interests and perspectives of that (those) audience(s).
  2. The student will write about general principles in relation to, and/or illustrated by, specific situations, examples and stories.
  3. The student will demonstrate an awareness of the impact of varying situations and contexts.
  4. The student will effectively use more than one perspective to understand nuances in their topic of study.
  5. The student will identify more than one theoretical perspective and/or strategic/practice approaches that they have considered in their studies and inquiries.
  6. The student will be able to discuss how they arrived at their conclusions—their insights, questions, and/or recommendations.

Further, throughout their studies, Master’s students will continue to refine and develop further the following essential communication skills expected of graduate students:

  • Writing clearly and in an organized fashion;
  • Writing in their own voice, and from their own perspective;
  • Using their papers to further develop and fine-tune their thinking and understanding of the ideas and practices being studied;
  • Engaging in collaborative dialogue with faculty and students to: 1) more deeply engage themselves and others in thinking more deeply and inquisitively about the topic being discussed, 2) to develop further, theories and/or practices in their area(s) of specialization, and 3) contribute to their own learning and the learning of others.

Measures: The student’s writing skills will be evidenced in their papers, thesis, written self-assessments, and critical reflections on readings. Their oral communication skills will be evidenced in their dialogue with faculty and other students and in oral exams. Their collaborative skills will be evidenced primarily in their collaboration with other students and those beyond the WISR community of learners, which in some cases, will be manifest in the student’s papers, thesis and written self-assessments.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP THE CAPABILITY OF PURSUING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES, AND/OR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENTS, APPROPRIATE TO THEIR CAPABILITIES, EXPERIENCE, AND INTERESTS

For those MFT/LPCC students, employability or career advancement in their field of counseling psychology and progress toward State licensure will be important,

they will:

  1. Qualify for associate MFT status with the Board of Behavioral Sciences, and if they have taken the additional courses toward LPCC licensure and wish to do so, they will also qualify for associate professional counselor status with the BBS;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of counseling career paths that incorporate their interests, values and purposes.
  3. Have sufficient competence in the field to obtain work as an associate MFT (or associate professional counselor) in a non-profit agency, and/or in private practice under the supervision of a licensed therapist/counselor;
  4. If they so choose, proceed toward licensure as an MFT and/or LPCC, and successfully gain the necessary supervised hours, and pass the required exams for licensure.
  5. If they so choose, be able to use their knowledge and skills in a professional position in a related field, and/or as a community leader, should they decide not to proceed toward licensure;

For those more concerned with community involvement than employment, the above learning outcomes apply in terms of leading to what the student considers to be meaningful community involvement.

Measures: The above outcomes will be evidenced in surveys of students, recent alumni, and the employers, coworkers, and/or clients of recent alumni. In addition, evidence will be found in the students’ written self-assessments, oral exams, thesis, and especially, employment and/or community involvement in the first two years post-graduation.

In surveying students and alumni to obtain evidence with this Program Objective, WISR will evaluate:

1.The satisfaction of students and recent alumni—how, if at all, are they a) satisfied with how their WISR learning has contributed to their realizing these objectives, and b) able to identify some specific examples of how their WISR learning has contributed to these objectives.

2.The performance of recent alumni—in surveys, their employers, coworkers, and/or clients will express satisfaction with the professional, community and/or leadership contributions of WISR alumni.

THE STUDENT WILL BECOME KNOWLEDGEABLE IN THEIR MAJOR FIELD OF STUDY, AND IN THEIR PARTICULAR AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION

Master’s students in this program will become knowledgeable about, and confident in, their knowledge of, the details–including the strengths, limitations, and realms of applicability–of a variety of theories, perspectives and practices in their field of Marriage and Family Therapy, and they will become competent in at least one area of specialization within their broad field of study. Taken together, the learning outcomes described below represent a constellation of qualities characteristic of the “competent” level of knowledge and skills according to the Dreyfus model of stages of developing toward expert knowledge and skills. See for example: 1) https://www.nateliason.com/blog/become-expert-dreyfus   2) https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a084551.pdf  and 3) http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/ai/cache/Socrates.html

Proficiency” is the next stage in developing toward expert knowledge and skills, and upon completing the Master’s, students will be ready to take on, and learn by addressing, the challenges involved in becoming “proficient”. This is the domain and stage of learning for those pursuing a doctorate.

Faculty will support and challenge each student’s development in this learning goal area, and will evaluate their progress in achieving the following required learning outcomes:

  1. The student will demonstrate knowledge of at least three theories and strategies of practice in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, and
  2. The student will be able to critically examine those theories and practices, so that they can identify and articulate, the circumstances in which each is most likely to be most useful and valuable, given their strengths and limitations.
  3. The student will be able to engage in conscious and deliberate planning and make critical comparisons of alternative courses of action.
  4. In the process of critically examining theories and principles of practice in the field, the student will show an awareness of the inherent uncertainty, complexity and subtlety in using such theories and principles.

More specifically:

  1. The student will identify and compare alternative courses of action.
  2. The student will identify, and explain the relevance of, their recommendations for a chosen plan of action.
  3. The student will identify some uncertainties and dilemmas that experts in their area(s) of specialization face, and
  4. The student will identify and propose a possible strategy or line of action and inquiry that takes into account those uncertainties and complexities.

Measures: The attainment of these learning outcomes will be evidenced manifest in student papers and action-research activities, in the student’s written self-assessments and oral exams, especially, and also in dialogue with faculty and other students. The student may show readiness, and/or initial engagement in addressing the demands of becoming more holistic, creative and proficient in their area(s) of specialization—as evidenced in the student’s Master’s thesis, written self-assessments, and oral exam.”

MFT students must have at least 306 hours of supervised experience in a practicum that meets State requirements.
Also, students discuss their practicum experiences with their faculty adviser(s) and in seminars, and write one to two papers critically analyzing insights from these experiences.

 

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 faculty members, two WISR students or former students, 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.

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!

 

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