MA in Counseling Psychology

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Program Description

MA in Counseling Psychology

Pacifica Graduate Institute

MA in Counseling Psychology

Classes begin throughout September

Dedicated to offering students unique and evidenced-based comprehensive training in the art of marriage, family, and individual psychotherapy and professional clinical counseling with an appreciation for the systemic and immeasurable dimensions of the psyche.

Our Unique Counseling Psychology Program

About Counseling Psychology

For over three decades, Pacifica’s M.A. Program in Counseling Psychology has offered distinctive and comprehensive training and emphasis in the art, science, and practice of marriage and family therapy, professional clinical counseling, and depth psychology. As preparation for licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling, this rigorous academic program emphasizes both theoretical understanding and experiential training in clinical skills. Pacifica students have outstanding pass rates on the California LMFT exams. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences reports that 94% of the Pacifica graduates taking the MFT standard written exam from 1/1/2016-12/31/2016 passed the exam, which ranks higher than the state average of 75% for that time period.

Students in the Counseling Psychology Program pursue two and a half years of coursework in Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Clinical Counseling, Theory and Praxis, and Humanities and Depth Traditions.

Research studies prepare students to explore and contribute to the continuing development of scholarship within the marriage and family therapy, professional clinical counseling, and depth psychological tradition. This underlying emphasis invites a curiosity about the psyche and encourages respect for the diversity of life and human experience. The supervised practicum provides students the opportunity to apply clinical counseling techniques in a clinical setting. Students continue to learn multi-theoretical perspectives and supervisory styles while working with individuals, couples, families, and groups. Interdisciplinary courses in literature, mythology, religion, and culture deepen students’ ability to link archetypal themes to sociopolitical and personal issues in the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

“Pacifica’s Masters Program in Counseling Psychology integrated a structured academic and experiential program with my own career and personal development goals. The emphasis on depth psychology not only afforded me a paid traineeship but immediately upon graduation, I was offered employment at several therapeutic agencies and private offices where I am furthering my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I am proud that the education I received at Pacifica is helping me make a difference in the world.”
-Alonso Dominguez, Counseling Psychology Program Graduate

Program Benefits

Students in the M.A. Counseling Psychology Program learn to:

  • Become proficient in theoretical orientations that offer perspective and provide meaning to systemic patterns and human behavior.
  • Demonstrate process and clinical skills.
  • Understand and apply evidence-based clinical assessment procedures.
  • Identify underlying psychological and systemic dynamics of human interaction.
  • Determine and implement effective interventions and evidence-based treatment plans and demonstrate knowledge of family systems theories and apply understanding to case conceptualization assessment, and treatment in clinical practice.
  • Enhance client functioning and well-being via multi-culturally sensitive referrals and collaborative treatment team consultations.
  • Understand individual, systemic, community, political, and biologic aspects of diversity and demonstrate knowledge and respect for diversity.
  • Assess, diagnose, and treat the symptoms and characteristics of behavioral addictions, substance use, and dependence.
  • Students are knowledgeable and apply evidence-based assessment procedures to client cases and demonstrate awareness of community mental health and diversity-related considerations.
  • Apply current legal and ethical standards and guidelines while working with diverse populations and demonstrate knowledge and application of legal and ethical standards in scholarly work and supervised practicum as they pertain to marriage and family therapy and professional clinical counseling.
  • Students will identify and integrate systemic depth psychological perspectives of human interaction and demonstrate competence in the field of marriage and family therapy and professional clinical counseling.
  • Demonstrate an evolving capacity to self-assess and articulate one’s own strengths.

“Attending Pacifica has been a powerful experience for me. The once-a-month weekend ‘retreats’ allow me to form meaningful and genuine relationships with fellow students while gaining effective counseling skills from the extremely knowledgeable professors. I appreciate being around people who are dedicated to personal growth, following their passions, and helping others. I look forward to having many life-changing and transformative experiences at Pacifica.”
-Kristen Lewis, Counseling Psychology Program Student

Scholarships

The Peace Corps announced the launch of a new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program in partnership with Pacifica Graduate Institute that will provide two graduate school scholarships available to returned Peace Corps volunteers who are accepted to the Masters in Counseling Psychology Program. Contact admissions counselor Lori Myers at 805-879-7320 or lmyers@pacifica.edu for more information.

The Education Assistance Scholarship is sponsored by Pacifica Graduate Institute and offered to new and returning students based on extreme financial hardship and strong academic excellence. Awards are made annually at the beginning of each academic year. The award is $1,000 to be equally divided over the academic year. For students in the Masters in Counseling Psychology Program, enrolled in the 3rd year, the award is $500. This scholarship is not renewable and students must apply each academic year.

The Founders Scholarship is sponsored by Pacifica Graduate Institute and offered to newly admitted students entering the Masters in Counseling Psychology Program based on extreme financial hardship and strong academic excellence. The Founders Scholarship will be awarded to 4 students in the amount of $4,000 and is renewable provided recipients meet the required 3.5 cumulative grade point average.

Program FAQs

Does a student need to have a B.A. in psychology or extensive background in psychology to qualify for admission to this M.A. program?

A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or a state-approved institution is required to enroll. While we encourage students with a psychology background to apply, students with a variety of educational backgrounds may be considered for admission to the Masters in Counseling Psychology Program. Given our interdisciplinary approach, previous background or readings in the fields of depth psychology, mythology, literature, religion, and art are of significance in enhancing a student’s experience in the program.

Does receiving the M.A. degree from Pacifica qualify a student to meet the academic requirements to sit for the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) licensing exams?

Yes. The coursework in the M.A. Counseling Psychology Program meets the educational requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California. After completing a master’s degree from Pacifica, one must meet the BBS internship and examination requirements in order to apply for the California Marriage and Family Therapist license (LMFT). Please see the Board of Behavioral Sciences website at www.bbs.ca.gov for further information about licensing requirements. Applicants from other states are strongly encouraged to obtain licensing information and requirements from the licensing board of their particular state since requirements vary from state to state. (See Disclaimer to Out of State Students at the end of this document.)

Does receiving the M.A. degree from Pacifica qualify a student to meet the academic requirements to sit for the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)?

Yes. The coursework in the M.A. Counseling Psychology Program meets the educational requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California. After completing a master’s degree from Pacifica, one must meet the BBS internship and examination requirements in order to apply for the California Marriage and Family Therapist license (LMFT). Please see the Board of Behavioral Sciences website at www.bbs.ca.gov for further information about licensing requirements. Applicants from other states are strongly encouraged to obtain licensing information and requirements from the licensing board of their particular state since requirements vary from state to state. (See Disclaimer to Out of State Students at the end of this document.)

How long is this master's program and how is it structured?

Students attend classes in this program for 2.5 years or 10 quarters (see curriculum overview). The schedule consists of nine three-day sessions and a seven-day summer session each year, during the first two years and six three-day sessions in the final year. Classes meet from approximately 9:00am to 9:00pm during the first two days of each session and from 8:30am-4:30pm on day 3.

What are the supervised practicum requirements for graduation?

Students must complete 280 direct service hours in a supervised practicum in their home community. Students may begin their supervised practicum after successfully completing the spring quarter 2016 courses, and after all site, documentation has been submitted and approved.

What expenses, beyond tuition and residential costs, should I consider?

Students will want to factor into their school budget expenses for books, personal psychotherapy, and a thesis editor. Generally, students allow at least $2,000 per year for personal therapy, and approximately $600-$1,200 for a thesis editor, depending on the student’s writing abilities and level of editing assistance needed.

How much work is required outside of class?

Class assignments consist of readings, discussion posts, papers, and/ or projects. In the first year, students study approximately 20-25 hours per week depending on individual learning styles. In the second year, students study approximately 30 hours per week, which includes an average of 10 hours spent at a supervised practicum site. Some online coursework will also be required.

Curriculum Overview

When students begin their studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, they join a cohort of like-minded students who are also enrolling in that particular degree program. The majority of students remain with the same cohort throughout their academic journey. A very real sense of community is soon established as students collaborate within their cohorts and share the intense experiences that are part of graduate-level work at Pacifica. Close personal and professional bonds are formed, often lasting long after studies are completed and extending into graduates’ new careers.

Masters in Counseling Psychology classes take place in three-day sessions approximately once each month during fall, winter, and spring. There is also a seven-day summer session each year. The program enrolls students every fall.

Degree Requirements for Graduation

Two comprehensive examinations and a master’s thesis are to be completed in partial fulfillment of degree requirements. Students work closely with the instructors of Clinical Practice and Directed Research courses during the second year of the program in preparation for the comprehensive examinations and master’s thesis processes. For a full description of all requirements, consult the current edition of the Pacifica Student Handbook.

The curriculum content areas required by the Board of Behavioral Sciences in the State of California are covered by the following Counseling Psychology Program courses. Each student is responsible for determining and remaining informed of licensure requirements in his or her own state.

Admission Requirements

  • Program values students whose backgrounds include work in social, religious, or human services; academic training in psychology or the humanities; and experience in personal therapy. Successful applicants will also display scholarly writing skills and an interest in research.
  • Application Requirements:
    • Personal Statement (3-5 pages)
    • Resumé/CV
    • 300 word essay writing sample
    • 2 letters with recommendation form
    • Official transcripts – must have a bachelor’s/master’s degree from a regionally accredited or state–approved institution of higher education
This school offers programs in:
  • English


Last updated January 21, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Oct. 2018
Duration
Duration
3 years
Full time
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Locations
USA - Carpinteria, California
Start date: Oct. 2018
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USA - Santa Barbara, California
Start date: Oct. 2018
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Dates
Oct. 2018
USA - Carpinteria, California
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USA - Santa Barbara, California
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End date Request Info