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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://www2.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:

Program Goals

1. Achieve 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 (*and also for LPCC licensure for those pursuing that additional option)

2. Demonstrate in all the areas required by the State, “competent” knowledge and skills, as defined by the Dreyfus Model of Knowledge and Skill Development.

3. Become knowledgeable about, and confident in, their knowledge of, the details of a variety of theories, perspectives and practices in their broad 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 for LPCC licensure for those pursuing that additional option)

4. Become competent in at least one area of specialization within Marriage and Family Therapy. 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).

5. Bring to the practice of the MFT profession, and their area(s) of specialization, an awareness of the relevance of multicultural concerns and perspectives, as well as of the connections between specific issues and such larger matters as social justice, equality and environmental sustainability.

6. Practice skills of “learning how to learn” 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. Demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge in each of the knowledge and skill areas required by the 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. (In addition to areas mentioned below, this knowledge includes therapeutic appraisal/assessment and psychological testing, human sexuality, psychopharmacology, case management and advocacy, crisis and trauma counseling, cross-cultural counseling, aging and long-term care.)
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the strengths, limitations and uses of theories, principles, and methods of a variety of psychotherapeutic orientations directly related to marriage and family therapy.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of strategies, and issues in using strategies, of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning with children, couples and families.
  4. Identify the key developmental issues from infancy to old age and how they affect treatment planning.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of interventions, and challenges and issues with interventions, for child, spouse/partner, and elder abuse.
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of factors affecting, and treatment planning for, substance abuse and addiction.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of legal and ethical issues affecting clinical practice.

B: MFT Program Outcomes Using the Dreyfus Theory of Expert Knowledge—the student will be a competent, developing professional, Marriage and Family Therapist.

In order to become a competent professional, Marriage and Family Therapist, and to be able to practice as an Associate MFT in the State of California, the student will:

Demonstrate skills in evaluating specific situations and contexts in order to decide between alternative perspectives and strategies when working as a future Marriage and Family Therapist, and with their specific area(s) of specialization in mind. This level of expertise is that of the “competent” person as defined by the Dreyfus Model of Knowledge and Skill Development.* [*see description of the stage of “Competent” below]

Specific degree program learning outcomes used by WISR faculty to assess and guide student achievement of this this stage of expertise are that the student will:

  1. demonstrate that they can critically examine theories, principles, and methods of Marriage and Family Therapy and counseling psychology practice, in order to identify the circumstances in which each theory, principle or method is most likely to be useful and valuable, given the strengths and limitations of theories, principles and methods of practice.
  2. demonstrate conscious and deliberate planning, and make critical comparisons of alternative courses of action, and identify and explain the relevance of their recommended plan of action.
  3. demonstrate an awareness of the inherent uncertainty, complexity and subtlety in using such theories, principles, and methods in the professional practice of Marriage and Family Therapy and counseling psychology. And consequently, in the process of critically examining theories, principles, and methods of practice in the field, the student will
    1. identify uncertainties and dilemmas faced by competent professionals in the field, and
    2. identify two or more possible practices and directions for inquiry that take into account those uncertainties and complexities.

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:

C: Self-Directed Learning.  Demonstrate skills as a self-directed learner, including a critically-minded, intentional and improvisational learning.

D: Action-Research. Use methods of participatory and action-research in the pursuit of specialized knowledge and competent practice.

E: Multiculturalism and Inclusiveness. Demonstrate an awareness of issues of diversity and inclusiveness, and also demonstrate competence in working with diverse populations

F: Social Change and Justice. Demonstrate skills in making connections with the bigger picture and in 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.

G: Communication and Collaboration. Communicate clearly to their audience(s), in their own voice and on topics that matter to them and learn to collaborate with others. More specifically, the student will demonstrate that they can do so in ways that demonstrate an understanding of situational and contextual variations, alternative viewpoints, and how to judge and weigh evidence.

H: Build Bridges to the Future. Demonstrate 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. Further, in their studies as a student, they will begin to build bridges to their post-graduate involvements, including especially in their Master’s thesis.

*About the “Competent” Stage of Expert Knowledge and Skill Development in the Dreyfus Model:

“As you progress through the Advanced Beginner stage, you add more and more recipes and maxims to your experience with the skill that help you perform better and better. Eventually, you hit the point where it’s completely overwhelming and you have to develop rules about what recipes to apply when. The development of these rules is the key characteristic of the Competent. You have a better sense of what is relevant and what isn’t, and you can draw on a wide collection of recipes based on those situational rules. . . The second characteristic of the Competent is that since you’re picking your rules and using those rules to apply different recipes, you become emotionally involved in the outcome.” (From: https://www.nateliason.com/blog/become-expert-dreyfus  ) And:

“The competent performer thus seeks new rules and reasoning procedures to decide upon a plan or perspective. But such rules are not as easy to come by as are the rules and maxims given beginners. There are just too many situations differing from each other in subtle, nuanced ways. More, in fact, than can be named or precisely defined, so no one can prepare for the learner a list of what to do in each possible situation. Competent performers, therefore, must decide for themselves in each situation what plan to choose and when to choose it without being sure that it will be appropriate in that particular situation. . . . As the competent performer become more and more emotionally involved in his tasks, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw back and to adopt the detached rule-following stance of the beginner. While it might seem that this involvement would interfere with detached rule-testing and so would inhibit further skill development, in fact just the opposite seems to be the case. As we shall soon see, if the detached rule-following stance of the novice and advanced beginner is replaced by involvement, one is set for further advancement, . . .” (From: http://www2.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/ai/cache/Socrates.html  )

While outcomes may appear to overlap or repeat at different degree program levels (BS, MS, EdD), specific indicators related to the appropriate stage of learning are incorporated into each outcome. This is described in detail in the Table, “Progression of Increasingly Higher Stages of Expertise, and Program Outcome Indicators for Each Degree Program.”

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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