Golden Gate University offers a license-eligible Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. This degree program provides students with the academic and clinical training required to practice relationally informed clinical work and to prepare alumni for employment in a variety of mental health settings, including community mental health agencies, hospitals, schools, and private practice. Our students learn to practice from a stance of cultural humility and to maintain ethical and best practice standards.
The program maintains a strategic partnership with the Psychotherapy Action Network, an organization that aims to organize, formulate initiatives, and collectively advocate for mental health policy that is based on the complexity of the individual and not simply on the identification of discrete symptoms. This is consistent with our program philosophy, which envisions psychotherapy as a complex process of individual growth and change and the therapeutic relationship as a key element in successful treatment.
Traineeship is an integral part of our program, providing an opportunity for students to apply the skills learned in class to the clinical encounter. Students are required to complete 300 face-to-face clinical hours under clinical supervision and to concurrently attend our practicum seminar over the course of at least three trimesters. Although faculty and staff are available to assist, students who intend to pursue licensure outside the state of California are responsible for determining the traineeship requirements for the relevant states, such as additional face-to-face hours or particular supervisor qualifications, and for working with faculty and staff to make sure that any additional requirements are met.
Our curriculum meets the MFT licensure requirements as set forth by section 4980.36 of the California Business and Professions (Cal. B&P) code. The program satisfies all the educational requirements set by the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners and provides some hours of supervised experience fulfilling part of the practical experience requirements. Our curriculum also meets the educational requirements for Licensed Professional Clinical counselor (LPCC) licensure as required by section 4999.33 of the California Business and Professions (Cal. B&P) code. The curriculum also meets the educational requirements for MFT and/or LPCC licensure in some other states. If you intend to pursue licensure outside the state of California, speak with a faculty member in the Department of Psychology to discuss the licensure requirements in your particular state of interest.
Student Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology will possess the skills and knowledge to:
- Demonstrate comprehensive and integrative knowledge of the field of counseling psychology relevant to mental health professionals, including human development, psychopathology, and group, family, couple, and individual dynamics.
- Demonstrate knowledge of ethical and best practice standards that exist for professionals in their field.
- Demonstrate the capacity and willingness to practice psychotherapy from a stance of cultural humility.
- Demonstrate the capacity to practice individual, couple, family, and group psychotherapy from a relational and systemic lens.
- Demonstrate knowledge of research designs and parameters of psychological research, particularly within the field of counseling psychology, and the capacity to critically assess psychological research.
Personal Psychotherapy Requirement
Students entering the counseling profession benefit professionally, personally, and academically from personal psychotherapy. During the program, students must complete 50 hours of psychotherapy with a licensed clinician or a therapist under supervision by a licensed clinician (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, MFT, LPCC, or LCSW). Students may select individual, couple, family or group psychotherapy or some combination of these. If the psychotherapy requirement presents an unmanageable emotional and/or financial burden, it may be deferred to post-graduation or waived entirely with the permission of the Program Director.
Traineeship Readiness Requirement
Before applying for a traineeship, a student must advance to Traineeship Candidate status. A student must apply for Candidacy before the end of their second trimester of enrollment. To apply for Candidacy, a student must complete the Traineeship Candidacy form, which must be submitted to the Department Chair. This form, in addition to feedback from faculty and any atypical reports that have been submitted by professors due to academic or behavioral issues in the classroom, will be reviewed by the Program Director to assess the student’s academic and emotional preparedness to begin traineeship and continue on the path to pursue licensure as a psychotherapist. In addition, the student must have completed or plan to have completed by the time their traineeship will begin at least PSYCH 320, PSYCH 321, and PSYCH 326 and have made substantial progress toward completing their courses on psychotherapy theory (PSYCH 323, PSYCH 324, PSYCH 325, and PSYCH 339). Candidacy also requires that students verify that they have started the process of accruing personal psychotherapy hours or have applied for a waiver or modification of the personal psychotherapy requirement, as required by the program, and have confirmed a path to completion of their remaining courses through meeting with their academic advisor. Upon receiving Traineeship Candidate status, the student may begin working with the Department’s faculty and staff to apply for traineeships. International students in F-1 or J-1 visa status must also have their employment authorization eligibility confirmed by their academic advisor/DSO. In the event that a student is not advanced to Candidacy status, the student will be notified in writing.
If there are concerns about a student’s academic or emotional readiness for traineeship or psychotherapeutic practice, a Traineeship Candidacy Committee of at least two faculty members will be convened and, whenever possible, a plan will be developed with the student to address gaps in academic performance or emotional readiness. Similarly, if a student’s traineeship placement is terminated for any reason, their readiness to participate in another traineeship will be evaluated by the Candidacy Committee according to Candidacy guidelines. If reports are submitted regarding academic or behavioral issues in the classroom after Candidacy has been approved, the Committee may reconvene to review those reports and require an in-person meeting with the student. In rare cases, the Committee may decide that the student has failed to demonstrate professional and personal responsibility (as evidenced by violations of professional conduct, interpersonal trust, or ethical practice) and require students to leave the program.
Undergraduate Psychology Pathway Programs
As a pathway to the graduate-level counseling programs, students who complete certain undergraduate-level courses at Golden Gate University as a part of completing the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology or a Psychology concentration with either the Bachelor of Arts in Management or Bachelor of Science in Business may have the comparable graduate-level required courses waived from the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, the Graduate Certificate in Counseling Skills, or the Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution program requirements.
The following courses are eligible for this waiver option: PSYCH 102 Lifespan Development: Theories and Applications satisfies the PSYCH 302 Lifespan Development: Theories and Applications for Therapists requirement. PSYCH 120 Principles and Methods of Counseling satisfies the PSYCH 320 Therapeutic Communication and Counseling Skills requirement. As a consequence of having these courses waived, the total number of units required to complete the program will be reduced accordingly. Note: Students who have not completed (or are expected to complete) one of the Bachelor programs listed above are not eligible for this waiver.